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Cardinal Dolan Returns From Vatican With Higher Profile Than Ever

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is finally back home after more than three weeks in Rome.

He was mentioned as a possible pope, helped elect the new one and returned with his profile higher than ever.

He missed St. Patrick's Day, but he returned home in time for Easter. Cardinal Dolan was back at his residence behind St. Patrick's Cathedral on Friday and spoke with CBS 2's Tony Aiello.

Aiello: "Time to eat some corned beef that you missed out last week?"

Dolan: "I'm dying for a hot dog! But it's a Friday in Lent. I can't do it, darn it! I'll have to wait until tomorrow!"

After 23 days in Rome, his status as a Catholic Church leader has risen to new heights.

"I think it has made him more of an international figure," said Rev. James Martin of America Magazine.

Martin said reports from Rome indicate Dolan was an influential voice in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

"Italy has fallen in love with him and so [have] I. If I can pat myself on the back, I think we did a good job," Dolan said.

And while Dolan has said he doesn't know the new pope well, Martin has no doubt the cardinal's voice will be heard at the Vatican.

"He's a unique voice, and also as president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, to help the pope understand the church in America. So I imagine the pope will be calling on him pretty frequently," Martin said.

Aiello: "What's your hope for the months and years going forward?"

Dolan: "I have gotten to know him. He's an easy man to get to know. There's a warmth about him, a radiance about him, so I feel coming home I feel closer to him than I did beforehand and I think the whole world is gonna sense that."

Ever since Paul VI back in the 1960s, newly elected popes typically try to get to New York within a year or two of taking office.

Cardinal Dolan said he hopes to get Francis here by the fall of 2015, when he's scheduled to be in Philadelphia for the World Day of Families.

Pope Francis will make history on Saturday when he travels to a small town outside Rome to visit and dine with the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict.

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