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Seán Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap (born June 29, 1944) is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently serves as the Archbishop of Boston, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006. O'Malley is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, commonly known as the Capuchins.

Early life and ordination

Seán Patrick O'Malley was born as Patrick O'Malley in Lakewood, Ohio, the son of Theodore and Mary Louise (née Reidy) O'Malley. O'Malley, his sister, and his older brother grew up in South Hills of Pittsburgh, and Reading, Pennsylvania. At age 12, he entered St. Fidelis Minor Seminary in Herman, a boarding school for students considering joining the Franciscan order. While there, in addition to studying the normal high school subjects, he also studied Spanish, Greek, German, and Hebrew, and he was active in theater.

On July 14, 1965, at the age of 21, O'Malley professed his vows in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and took the name Seán in honor of St. John the Apostle. After he was ordained a deacon, he spent a brief period in Easter Island, Chile. He was ordained a priest on August 29, 1970, at age 26, by Bishop John Bernard McDowell, an auxiliary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

After graduating from St. Fidelis, he attended Capuchin College in Washington, D.C. and The Catholic University of America, where he is now a member of the Board of Trustees.

Professor and pastor

He graduated from CUA with a master's degree in religious education and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literature. He once said of his alma mater, "I have a great affection for Catholic University. I studied there, received my doctorate there and even taught there for a couple of years. It’s always a joy to go back to see the progress that they have made."[1] O'Malley served as a professor at The Catholic University from 1969 to 1973.

In 1973, he was asked to minister to Latinos living in the D.C. area at the Centro Católico Hispano (Hispanic Catholic Center). The Centro was founded in 1967 by the Archdiocese of Washington, and it was originally headed by the Spanish missionaries, Fr. Rutílio and Sister Ana María; it is an organization which provided educational, medical and legal help to immigrants. He opened a Spanish bookstore and founded El Pregonero, the first Spanish newspaper in the D.C. area. In 1978, Cardinal William Wakefield Baum appointed him episcopal vicar for the Portuguese, Hispanic, and Haitian communities, and he became the executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Social Ministry. He was also named knight commander of the Order of Infante D. Henrique by Portugal in 1974 for his service to its people.


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O'Malley was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Saint Thomas on May 30, 1984 by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following August 2 by Bishop Edward John Harper, CSSR, with Archbishop James Hickey and Bishop Eugene Marino, SSJ, serving as co-consecrators.

He served as coadjutor for one year and then succeeded Bishop Harper as Bishop of Saint Thomas on October 16, 1985, upon Harper's resignation. While in the Virgin Islands, he worked with the homeless, and opened a home for people with AIDS. He was made an honorary chaplain of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1991.

As a bishop in New England, O'Malley first attempted to settle the sexual abuse scandal in Fall River diocese. In Palm Beach, he tried to overcome the abuse scandal there too. He also worked closely with the Portuguese and Hispanic population, which make up a large percentage of the Catholics in the United States.

In 1998 John Paul II appointed O'Malley to the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops. In 2003, he became the archbishop of Boston, succeeding Cardinal Bernard Law, who had resigned as a consequence of the scandal there.


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Cardinal O'Malley speaks to students at St. Paul's Catholic Church, home to the Catholic community at Harvard University, 30 April 2006

Pope Benedict XVI elevated O'Malley and 14 others to the rank of cardinal in the consistory on March 24, 2006, as announced on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, February 22, 2006. O'Malley, who was assigned the titular church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, was one of two Americans to be elevated on that day (the other was William Joseph Levada, who succeeded Pope Benedict as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2005). In the following May, O'Malley was named as a member of both the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Roman Curia. In late September 2009, he became a member of the Presidential Council of the Pontifical Council for the Family, on the same day as an American couple and a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis were named as consultors.

On September 19, 2006, O'Malley became the first cardinal with a personal blog, As of Christmas 2006 he began offering a regular podcast as well.[2] He views the podcasts "as yet another tool [he] can use to reach the young people in our Church who more and more are turning to the Internet for their information."[3]

O'Malley will be able to participate in any future papal conclaves held as the result of a sede vacante beginning prior to his 80th birthday on June 29, 2024.



Cardinal O'Malley has said that the Democratic Party has been persistently hostile to pro-life groups, adding that the support of many Catholics for Democratic candidates "borders on scandal."[4] In spite of intense pressure not to speak publicly at Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral, due to the latter's long-standing support for abortion rights, O'Malley agreed to assist at the funeral Mass and led a prayer, because, he said, "as Archbishop of Boston, I considered it appropriate to represent the Church at this liturgy out of respect for the Senator, his family, those who attended the Mass and all those who were praying for the Senator and his family at this difficult time." He appreciated the Senator's work for social justice, but saw in Kennedy's lack of support for the unborn "a tragic sense of lost opportunity".[5][6] He reportedly refused to deny communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians living within his diocese.[7]

Lifting of the SSPX excommunications

Template:Ambox/small He has defended Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift the excommunication of the four bishops of the society of Saint Pius X.[8]

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

In a letter to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which had been under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, O'Malley said that "the Church is grateful for all that your communities have done and continue to do to advance the mission of the Church, especially in the areas of health care, education, social services and pastoral ministry, as are highlighted in the exhibit".[9]

Sexual and other abuse politics

He has settled 101 abuse claims and claims to have initiated a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse. He also instituted one of the first comprehensive sexual abuse policies in the Roman Catholic Church.[10]

Apostolic Visitor to Dublin

In June 2010, after the Ryan Report and Murphy Report on the abuses by the Church in Ireland, Cardinal O'Malley was named along with others to oversee the apostolic visitation of certain dioceses and semanaries in Ireland. Cardinal O'Malley was named to as the Visitor to the diocese of Dublin and its suffragan sees, Ferns and Ossory and Kildare and Leighlin. He will report back to the Holy See on what steps have been taken since the reports where issued, and what else needs to happen.[11]

Episcopal succession

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External links

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