Cardinal O’Malley seen as top contender for pope
UNDATED (WHDH) -- Cardinal Sean O’Malley has made such an impact on Boston’s community -- but it turns out, he actually has been getting a lot of attention in Italy as well.
Over the weekend, a leading Italian newspaper named O’Malley as a top contender for the most powerful position in the church. He's the talk of the town in Rome.
“All the buzz that's going on right now, all the taxi drivers, all the hotel workers they all love their ‘cappuccino cardinal,’ our own Cardinal Sean O’Malley,” said Scot Landry, Archdiocese of Boston.
Cardinal O’Malley has emerged as a popular choice for pope, and those who know him say there are a lot of reasons.
“He’s a special priest, he's Franciscan, he speaks multiple languages, he's very humbled, down to earth and he's super intelligent and he knows the business of the church really well,” said Terrence Donilon, Archdiocese of Boston.
Being a Franciscan -- seen by many as the simplest order of the priesthood --makes him a favorite to the Italians. He also speaks seven languages including Italian, which he showed during a Mass Sunday.
Cardinal O’Malley also speaks Spanish and has done work in Latin America. With 40 percent of Catholics now living in Latin America, that's seen as an advantage.
Those who have met him also say the cardinal is straight forward.
“He knows what he's talking about. He’s very direct, he doesn't pussyfoot around and I like that,” said Mike McKeating, who met Cardinal O’Malley.
And he's faced the church's sex abuse scandal head on. In Boston, he's worked to make sure any abuse is reported immediately. He's also called on the next pope to face the crisis worldwide.
“Being an American isn't something that's going to hold him back. He's one of the best preachers we have in the church; he's one of the best evangelists we've had in the Church,” said Landry.
And the cardinal has used technology to spread the word. He blogs, records podcasts and even uses Twitter, pushing the church into the 21st century.
When 7News asked the cardinal before he left for Rome what he thought of all the speculation about the possibility he could become the pope, he was humble, and mostly laughed off the buzz -- saying he bought a round-trip ticket.