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The Other Papabile American: Seán Cardinal O'Malley

© Patrick HERTZOG / AFP

Seán Cardinal O'Malley is a Franciscan known for his good handling of sex abuse cases

Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 03/08/13

His poverty and work with the developing world would also shift the attention away from the establishment intellectuals and the European elite. His austere lifestyle would set an example for the whole Church and could put the Church into “readiness for battle” mode – a mentality that more and more Catholics feel is vital. 

O’Malley’s orthodoxy on doctrinal and moral matters and his commitment to the pro-life cause would endear him to conservatives, while his work for peace and justice would make him a bright star of those of a more progressive bent.

Would Cardinal O’Malley have the backbone to be Pope? Some think he is too soft and easy going, too likely to bend and give way. He has virtually no experience of the Vatican system and the Curia, and he has told interviewers that he has a round trip ticket to Rome and intends to use the other half, indicating that not only does he not believe himself to be a likely choice, but he also does not covet the white cassock. 

Cardinal O’Malley reminds us about the uniqueness of each Cardinal of the Church. An American who is a Capuchin friar, who has dedicated his life to the Church and the New Evangelization could be exactly the inspired choice – a man who could bring together rich and poor, developed world and developing world and be the focus of unity for all Catholics.

That’s the main job qualification, isn’t it? The more we learn about Cardinal O’Malley, the more we understand the buzz in Rome and the anticipation that he might not only be the inspired choice, but an excellent successor to Peter.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his blog and browse his books at

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