Cardinal O'Malley: Haven't lost sleep over papal chances

(CBS News) BOSTON -- Leave it to others to point to Cardinal Sean O'Malley as a papal contender; he's having none of it.

"I haven't lost any sleep about it, and I have bought a round-trip ticket, so I am counting on coming home," he says.

Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez
Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez
CBS News

But that hasn't stopped prominent American Catholics from making O'Malley's case. Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez worked with O'Malley in poor Hispanic neighborhoods during the 1970s.

"I don't think he would deviate on doctrinal matters, but he would -- I think he would change a lot of the pastoral things -- the role of women in church activities, I think it would increase a lot, the role of lay people," Suarez says.

O'Malley speaks six languages, worked in Latin America and belongs to the Capuchin order, known for simplicity.

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Brother Celestino Arias lives in a Boston friary O'Malley often visits.

Brother Celestino Arias
Brother Celestino Arias
CBS News

"He's dealt very firmly with the scandal in several diocese now," Arias says. "People can criticize particulars, but he has been firm and consistent in his critique, and I think for the church to regain some of its credibility that it's lost -- this is vital."

O'Malley inherited the child abuse scandal when he came to Boston in 2003. He's tried to restore the diocese's credibility, in part by reaching legal settlements with more than 500 abuse victims for $85 million.

Bernie McDade was abused by a priest. He complains O'Malley was slow to release names of alleged pedophile priests.

Bernie McDade
Bernie McDade
CBS News

Asked whether O'Malley would make a good pope, McDade says, "If he can open up and see that there is more to this than just the settlements in his job, he probably could be something special for this church."

Cardinal O'Malley says the papacy is something that he has never aspired to. But if he is called, he says it will be God's will.


  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.

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