from another thread....
He's (Cardinal Mahoney of L.A... ed) the USA's premiere churchman -- at least on paper. He is the archbishop of by far the largest archdiocese in by far the richest and most influential nation in the world.
On paper, his diocese is actually not as influential as some others in this country.
That's simply not true.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has FAR more influence than any other archdiocese in the USA -- be it Chicago, New York, DC, etc.
Mahony may not show-up on EWTN, but that dosen't mean he dosen't have influence.
I don't want to reopen the closed discussion about which, if any, American Cardinal is most papabile. (Though if anybody is in Vegas and wants to put down ten bucks on Cardinal George for me, I'll send you a sawbuck for the betting ticket.)
However, this suggestion does open up an interesting discussion as to which U.S. diocese have the most influence and which bishops are the most influential.
As concerns primacy, technically the U.S. does not have a "primate" as do some other countries. I guess we are just too democratic for that. We don't even have a papal nuncio, afterall. He's called the "pro-nuncio".
If we did have a primate, this would by historical custom, be the Archbishop of Baltimore (presently Cardinal Keeler). Baltimore was the first diocese for the U.S., originally covering the entire land mass. However, Baltimore has long ceeded it's signifigance in importance as a U.S. city to other places. Ever since Washington, D.C. was made it's own diocese about 50 years ago, Baltimore no longer even covers the nation's capital.
The media centers which have been covering the nations' reaction to the pope's death would seemingly have us believe that the only places which matter and are representative are New York, Washington, and L.A. Of course, that's mostly because it is where the press have headquaters. But it also shows that they are important places in the U.S.
Going on things like size, we would point to L.A., Chicago, and New York.
Influence of what is happenning in various places for the Church and coming out of there to affect the rest of the Church raises a legitimate point.
Money is no small matter. How much a diocese gives to various Church apostolates carries pull.
Church politics and who can move who in what ways means something.
Personality also plays an important role. Who are the leaders that move, shake, or mediate?
Of course, intellectual and spiritual heavyweights who make an impression and to whom other bishops look to for guidance often become the people that end up guiding the American Church in major ways.
My perspective....I believe that there is an informal primacy of honor in the U.S. One bishop usually ends up being the most prominent and influencial guiding force in the American Church at any particular period in time. Typically, since the early 20th century, this has alternated between the Archbishops of Chicago and New York, with Boston once or twice having had the leader to follow. The present prelate of honor in the U.S. is very clearly and unambiguously Cardinal George. He is the man to whom the others look and who they stop to listen to. Before him, it was Cardinal O'Connor, Cardinal Bernardin, and so forth.