Rocco Palmo, who writes about Catholic issues at Whispers in the Loggia, has been hearing the rumors about Cardinal Roger Mahony taking on an understudy who would succeed him when he retires next year.
In a thorough consideration of the topic, he argues that the dominant storyline of the transition will be the possibility of a Latino archbishop:
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Just as the Angeleno see's roughly 3.5 million Hispanic Catholics would, on their own, constitute the nation's largest diocese... national trends indicate Rome's willingness to provide the burgeoning bloc with homegrown leadership.
There are at least two other storylines to follow as well:
First is the liberal/conservative angle. Some find Mahony to be too liberal, and are looking to Rome for some discipline. His successor will be understood, Palmo argues, either as a "thumbs up" from the Vatican or as a "crackdown."
And of course, there are the lingering effects of the sex abuse scandal. Though the archdiocese settled its claims for $660 million almost three years ago, the story still has legs -- at least as long as a federal grand jury continues its investigation.