"I'm very happy that he did not get elected because I just think for New York he's a perfect fit," said Monsignor James Lisante, pastor and author.
The cardinal himself consistently downplayed his chances of becoming pope as did others who doubted there would be an American chosen.
But experts say there is no doubt Cardinal Dolan will have more and more influence as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, walking a fine line right between the re-invigoration of the church and the rhetoric against gay marriage, for example.
"They've spent a lot of money, been very outspoken about it. It's not going to work, they're not going to persuade people on this," said Paul Baumann, Commonweal Magazine Editor.
Yet if anyone can put a positive spin on a difficult topic, it's Cardinal Dolan.
On his recent deposition regarding the cleanup of a damaging sex abuse scandal he said, "Because they had said, 'Would you be willing to answer questions about your happy years in Milwaukee?"
To the budget constraints that demand action here in New York.
There will be plenty for the cardinal to talk about and plenty of reason for the Vatican to listen.
"The Romans love him and I think the larger church is saying we have to watch this man because we know how good he is, as the face of the Catholic Church," Lisante said.
Perhaps his biggest fan is his mother, who's very happy that Cardinal Dolan is staying put.