BOSTON (CBS) – Sean Cardinal O’Malley has been the Archbishop of Boston for nearly ten years.
Now there’s talk that he could become the next pope, chatter that he continues to dismiss.
“For us it must not matter where the Pope comes from, what color he is, how tall or how short, what language he speaks or doesn’t speak. What is important is that he becomes the successor of Peter, the Pope of Rome and of the world, the one destined to walk in the shoes of the fisherman,” he said in a homily February 22.
But what if his fellow cardinals chose him?
What do we know about Cardinal Sean? (as he prefers to be called)
He’s been a cardinal for seven years. O’Malley, 68, is best known as a reformer in the American Catholic Church when it comes to repairing the damage from the clergy sex abuse scandals that preceded him in Boston, Fall River and Palm Beach, Florida.
“I don’t know about that,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu in a rare interview last December.
“I think it’s been a team effort and many people have worked with me and I’m happy to say that I think some progress has been made.”
He’s helped settle more than 100 abuse cases, but does he believe the crisis is finally behind us?
“I think that it will always be a very important part of my ministry and certainly the responsibility of the church is to guarantee the safety of the children entrusted to our care,” he said.
“I think recent events with the universities, the Boy Scouts and other groups, show that in the not-too-distant past that this problem was not being dealt with well by the church or by other institutions. I think part of the reason was that there was no realization of the terrible damage being done to the victims of sexual abuse.”
Pope Benedict XVI thought so highly of O’Malley’s work he sent him to Ireland in 2011 to lead a review of the sexual abuse crisis in the Dublin Archdiocese.
Cardinal Sean is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. He reportedly has a basic command of Italian, which is essential for any pope.
Another reason O’Malley’s name is jumping out is his simplicity as a Capuchin friar. He still wears a brown habit and sandals as the head of the Boston Archdiocese.
Mathieu asked him how he gets through the New England winters without shoes?
“I’ve been doing it for over 40 years, so you get used to it. I wear socks during the cold weather. You learn to live with it,” he said.
Cardinal Sean sticks to a humble lifestyle outside of church as well.
“My favorite restaurant is the Victoria Diner. There’s usually either priests or policemen there, which I think is a good recommendation. They have a great menu and it’s reasonably priced,” he told Mathieu.
O’Malley is also active in church media with a blog, Twitter, and Catholic radio and television stations.
He blogs once a week and says he even takes photos at events with his phone.
“I think it’s a way for us to help people to appreciate the many good things that are happening in the life of the church,” he said.
“The blog is a way of reaching so many young Catholics who no longer read newspapers.”
Back in December, during a visit to the Vatican, Cardinal Sean witnessed the pope’s first tweet.
“The Holy Father reaches millions of people with his tweets. I’m not in the same league.”