The Washington Times - March 11, 2013, 01:54PM

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The global media is in place to bear witness and offer chatty analysis, the debate and discussions are done just 24 hours before Catholic cardinals begin their conclave and select the next pontiff. Analysts have declared that their likely choice is a hard-nosed manager versus an inspiring man of faith.

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But maybe what they need is a savvy American in touch with faith issues, tricky politics and the 24/7 media marketplace, say some.

“An American pope may be an idea whose time has finally come,” says Forbes contributor Thomas Basile, who points out that the U.S. remains a charitable mother lode of benefit to the church; American Catholics contributed $70 million to the Holy See in 2011.

Mr. Basile also reasons that a forward-thinking U.S. pontiff could be a fundraising dynamo on his own, and be quite at home under the microscope of endless social media and press coverage. But there’s more.

“America’s first freedom is the Freedom of Religion,” Mr. Basile observes. “An American pope is uniquely positioned to drive a message of freedom on behalf of the church and all people of faith around the world. The message of religious freedom delivered by the Holy See is one that has universal importance, particular in regions where governments and religious extremists imperil Christians or political dissenters.”

Mr. Basile adds, “The American church’s present fight against intrusions on the rights of conscience over Obamacare’s mandates also gives an American Pope increased credibility in articulating the importance of standing up to secular institutions and other forces that seek to reduce freedom.”