Monday, March 11, 2013


Cardinal Sean O'Malley
[Cardinal Sean P.] O’Malley has repeatedly dismissed the notion that he is a contender, and he continued to do so Sunday at his titular church. (All cardinals are assigned as honorary patrons to a Roman church; O’Malley’s is Santa Maria Della Vittoria.)

Clad in a red cardinal’s cassock for Mass, he silently climbed the steps of the church — a Baroque masterpiece resplendent with elaborate frescoes and marble sculpture, most notably Bernini’s masterwork, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa.

The Rev. Rocco Visca, a member of the Discalced Carmelite friars who run Santa Maria Della Vittoria, lavished praise on the cardinal as he opened the service, calling O’Malley humble and a friend to the friars. He said he hoped that this would be O’Malley’s last visit as a cardinal and that the church would be his first stop after he became pope.
Santa Maria Della Vittoria
The titular church of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who heads the Archdiocese of Boston in the United States, is pictured to the left.
Today, the cardinal priests have a loose patronal relationship with their titular churches (their names and coats of arms are inscribed on plaques in the churches, and many raise funds for their church's maintenance and restoration), but they no longer participate in the actual management of the churches. There are now 143 presbyteral titular churches. Likewise, the cardinal bishops are given only honorary title to the 7 suburbicarian dioceses, and the cardinal deacons are given a similar relationship to the churches of their 69 deaconries.
The Ecstasy of St Teresa
To the left is a photo of Bernini's magnificent sculpture, The Ecstasy of St Teresa. The sculpture follows closely the descriptions in her writings of Teresa of Ávila's ecstatic experiences during prayerful contemplative meditation.

In answer to my playful question in the title of the post, I believe the chances that Cardinal O'Malley or any prelate from the United States will be elected pope are slim to none.  The view of the US and its leaders from the outside is, all too often, as power-hungry and desirous of ruling the world, and few cardinals wish to put the power of the Vatican in the hands of an American.  Besides, the Italian cardinals think it's time to put an Italian back on the papal throne.  Barring an agreement on the election of an Italian, the next choice might be a cardinal from a third-world country or from a country in one of the Americas, but not the United States.  There you have my predictions, which are not specific, nor should they in any way be considered conjectures from an expert in papal elections.