The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date: July 18, 2003
The Vatican plays its best card
NCR Rome correspondent John L. Allen Jr. writes a weekly column, The Word from Rome, that appears on NCRonline.org. In his July 3 column, Allen wrote about why he thinks OMalley was appointed to the Boston archdiocese. Following is an excerpt:
Since Cardinal Bernard Law resigned on Dec. 13, 2002, I said often that OMalley would be the obvious successor if it werent for the fact he had just taken over in Palm Beach in October 2002.
Obviously, the calculation was that Boston is so important -- Archbishop Tim Dolan of Milwaukee told me June 30 that Boston is a weathervane for how things are going with the national crisis -- the Vatican felt compelled to play what it considered the best card in its deck.
I see three reasons why OMalley was that card.
First, he is a fix-it man on the sex abuse issue. He went to the diocese of Fall River, Mass., in 1992 at the height of the scandal surrounding Fr. James Porter. OMalley won high marks for his outreach to victims and for instituting tough policies for priests, lay employees and volunteers. He repeated the performance in Palm Beach. He struck the right notes at his July 1 news conference in Boston, stating clearly: Peoples lives are more important than money.
Second, OMalley is a known quantity in Boston because of his decade in Fall River. He is well liked and respected, which means that the early buzz on his appointment has been largely favorable. Former Boston mayor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn, for example, called it a Massachusetts miracle. OMalley will start with a large reservoir of good will, an asset that few other candidates for the Boston job could offer.
Third, OMalley is the kind of man who inspires trust as a pastor and as a spiritual leader, and at bottom the crisis in Boston is spiritual. People feel betrayed by their church and its leaders, and will be looking to OMalley to restore trust. A Capuchin Franciscan, OMalley has a reputation as a humble man of deep prayer and sincerity. He is no doctrinal radical, certainly; on theological questions, he is closer to Bernard Law than to Laws progressive critics. But what OMalley will bring is a change of style and of tone, and perhaps that in itself will be enough for some of the dark clouds to lift.
National Catholic Reporter, July 18, 2003
|Copyright © The
National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd.,
Kansas City, MO 64111
All rights reserved.
TEL: 816-531-0538 FAX: 1-816-968-2280 Send comments about this Web site to: email@example.com