American Pope Hopeful Sean O’Malley: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

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Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley.

The process to elect the next pope is under way, and the leading American candidate is 68-year-old Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley. Overall, he’s the fifth favorite pick among all candidates, according to betting website Paddy Power.

Here’s what you should know about this religious leader, his life accomplishments, and his running to be the next Pope.

1. He’s the Archbishop of Boston

Sean O'Malley

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley (born on June 29, 1944, in Lakewood, Ohio) serves as a religious leader for the Roman Catholic Church. He holds the position of Archbishop of Boston, and in 2006 he was elevated to the rank of Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. He is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, who are also referred to as the Capuchins.

2. He Holds a Ph.D. in Literature


O’Malley attended the Catholic University of America, where he graduated with a master’s degree in religious education and a Ph.D in Spanish and Portuguese literature. He was officially ordained as a priest on August 29, 1970.

3. He Was a Bishop in the Virgin Islands

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O’Malley served as a bishop in may different location throughout the world. On October 16, 1985, he was ordained as the bishop of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He was next appointed bishop of Fall River, Massachusetts, on June 16, 1992. On September 3, 2002, he became the bishop of Palm Beach, Florida. And finally, he was appointed archbishop of Boston on July 1, 2003.

4. He’s The Favorite Among Voters from an Italian Newspaper

Pope O'Malley

The Boston Globe listed the results of a poll conducted by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The newspaper polled religious specialists and readers about their favorite picks for the next Pope. Five specialists selected O’Malley as the the top pick. The specialists also voted for Odilo Scherer of Brazil (4 votes) and Angelo Scola of Italy(4 votes). The reader’s vote ended up voting for O’Malley as the top guy with 36.6 percent of the vote; 17.8 percent of the readers voted for Scola and 13.8 percent voted for Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines.

5. He Denied that He’s a Contender
The Boston Globe reported that during O’Malley’s Sunday Church service, he continued to dismiss the notion that he was in the running for the pick of the next pope. Candidates are forbidden from self-endorsement, so his denial is customary. Franca Giansoldati, a Vatican correspondent for Il Messaggero, another leading Italian paper, is one of O’Malley’s supporters and one of the people who wants him to be the next Pope. She stated that:

We need a new era in the church.

6. He’s the 5th Favorite Overall Among Pope Candidates

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According to betting site, O’Malley fifth-best overall to be the next pope. He moved up from sixth after cardinals failed to pick a winner on day one of the conclave; a longer deliberation increases the chances for an American pope. The number one candidate right now is Archbishop Angelo Scola of Italy.

7. He Has a Personal Blog


O’Malley is one of the first cardinals to start up a personal blog site. On September 19, 2006, he opened up He also offers a podcast on the site to loyal listeners.

8. He Maintains a Strong Stance Against Sexual Abuse
O’Malley has settled 101 sexual abuse claims and has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse. He spoke to the National Catholic Reporter about his thoughts on the key to reconciling with sexual abuse victims in the church:

Quite often, the victims who want to see the bishop are the ones looking for a path to reconnect with God [and] with their faith. Not all of them, but a lot of them are looking for closure. In many cases, when a victim asks to see the bishop, it’s because they’re looking for a path home.

9. He Worked as a Professor
O’Malley served as a professor for his alma mater, The Catholic University, from 1969 to 1973.

10. He Serves on a Catholic Board of Trustees
O’Malley serves as a member of the Catholic University of America’s Board of Trustees.

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