BOSTON (CBS) – Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s name has surfaced at the Vatican as a possible successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who is retiring at the end of this month.

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That’s according to John Allen, the senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter in Rome.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

“The novelty of the last couple of days is that out of nowhere, among a lot of very seasoned Italian Vatican watchers, all of a sudden the name of Cardinal Sean O’Malley has begun to surface as another guy who might get a serious look,” Allen told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Tuesday.

Allen says the reason O’Malley’s name is jumping out is his profile as a reformer on the church’s clergy sex abuse scandal and his simplicity. He still wears a brown habit as the head of the Boston Archdiocese.

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The so-called “pope watchers” have also mentioned Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

“I think the election of any American is a long shot. For a long time there was almost an informal taboo against the idea of an American pope, on the grounds that you can’t elect a pope from a superpower,” Allen told WBZ.

“I think some of that has changed because America is no longer the only superpower.”

Allen said we won’t know if O’Malley, 68, has any real traction as a papal candidate until the end of the month, when most of the cardinals will be at the Vatican for Pope Benedict’s farewell.

O’Malley downplayed any suggestion last week that he may be considered.

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“I haven’t lost any sleep about it,” he said.  “I have bought a round-trip ticket (to Rome), so I’m counting on coming home.”