Cardinal O’Malley, seen by some as contender, says no one goes to conclave with papal hopes

02/22/2013 BRAINTREE, MA Cardinal Sean O'Malley (cq) greeted parishioners following a mass for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (cq) at the Pastoral Center (cq) in Braintree. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley greeted parishioners after the Mass. Credit: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, whose name has surfaced among some Italian Vatican-watchers as a possible candidate to be the next pope, told the faithful gathered at a Mass today that no cardinal goes to the conclave with the ambition of being pope.

“In these days there will be endless speculation about candidates and outcomes. I assure you no cardinal goes into the conclave with the ambition of being chosen for this overwhelming responsibility,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley presided at the noon Mass at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center in Braintree. He is expected to leave for Rome soon, where he will be part of the conclave that will choose the next pope. About 200 people attended, listening and sometimes laughing at the wit of O’Malley’s homily.

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O’Malley said of Pope Benedict XVI, who is taking the unusual step of resigning his position, that “I am saddened at the prospect of losing his eloquent clarity at preaching the Gospel to us.”

The Globe reported earlier this week that there was a growing buzz about O’Malley among the Vatican-watchers.

Asked at a news conference last week about whether he would be interested in the job, O’Malley said with a laugh, “I haven’t lost any sleep about it, and I have bought a round-trip ticket, so I’m counting on coming home.”

Asked if he wanted to be pope, O’Malley said, “I don’t think that it’s anything that I would aspire to. ... It’s a very, very challenging position. It’s a very lonely position. It’s a very diffcult task, but we’re there as cardinals to pray and encourage each other, knowing that someone needs to do it and hopefully we will be able to serve what God’s will is.”

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