|Cardinal O’Malley! Please, Lord.|
The cardinals are setting aside time for prayer together for guidance in selecting a new leader for the Roman Catholc Church. They’ve asked us to do the same. So, I mentioned this request at Mass this morning. After Mass a lady of a certain age came up to me effusive in her pride in being a Catholic these days. “St. Peter is joyful in heaven, Father, because the whole world is waiting to see who the new pope will be. Then she said something like this: “Peter was tortured and crucified and now he’s up there smiling and giving the Lord the elbow while saying ‘Hey, Lord, look at the world-wide interest in who the pope is going to be. I think we’re finally winning!'”
There certainly is wide interest in this selection process. The cardinals are watching and listening to each other during these days of formal meetings before they enter the conclave and the world is watching the cardinals. Vatican News Service reported yesterday that over 5000 reporters have been issued credentials. So, five thousand investigators, feature writers, journalists and gossip columnists are gathering around the Catholic family as we watch and pray for a new leader. All these reporters want insider stuff, scoops.
The cardinals are surprisingly open during their interviews. Cardinal George, for example, has been describing a beauty-pageant, talent show process: One man is suggested and evaluated for good features, e.g., languages spoken, administrative ability, history of management of sexual abuse cases, commitment to the New Evangelization, perhaps, even, holiness. Then, Cardinal George reminds us that inevitably there is a pause while that candidate’s star is clouded by negatives: He’s too old; too young; too American; non European (black); not enough gravitas.
I keep changing my opinion but I now favor the chances of Cardinal Sean O’Malley from Boston. He’s smart, not self-serving and has handled Boston’s terrible sex abuse scandal with firmness and compassion.
I like him because as a Capuchin monk, he wears sandals and has a beard. Maybe, even to the cardinals he looks like a pope. When he’s asked about his chances, he replies simply that he has a return ticket to Boston that he intends to use.
Mostly, though as he walks into the daily sessions in his sandals, he doesn’t look like he’s trying to fill Benedict XVI’s shoes, the red ones.