Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley was the likely successor to Cardinal Bernard Law, said John Allen Jr., a reporter for National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper that covers the Roman Catholic Church. Law resigned as bishop in December in the midst of the clergy sex abuse scandal rocking the church.
Allen, who made his comments in interviews Monday with CNN and other broadcast media, did not cite his sources. A senior Vatican official told The Associated Press that an announcement to name a successor was "imminent," and could come Tuesday or Wednesday. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said O'Malley has been one of several candidates under consideration.
Deacon Sam Barbaro, the spokesman for the Diocese of Palm Beach, said he was not aware of O'Malley's possible move and could not confirm the report.
Father Robert Bullock, founder of the Boston Priest Forum, designed to address the priest abuse problem, said O'Malley will have a huge job before him if named archbishop.
"It will be a daunting task for the archbishop to rebuild trust and confidence, to heal the surviving victims, to settle all the lawsuits, and to restore models of credibility," he told CBS radio station WBZ-AM in Boston.
Bullock expects an O'Malley-run archdiocese to be different.
"I would expect that there would be a good deal more openness, listening, accountability," he said.
O'Malley, who turned 59 on Sunday, has cleaned up scandals in two dioceses — in Fall River, Massachusetts, which was rocked a decade ago when the Rev. James Porter pleaded guilty to molesting 28 children, and most recently, in Palm Beach. He was appointed bishop there only last year and worked where two previous bishops were implicated in sex abuse scandals.
When he was named to the Palm Beach job last September, O'Malley said he planned to implement at least some of the policies he started in Fall River.
"The whole church feels the pain of this scandal and is anxious to try to bring some healing and reconciliation to our families and communities that have been so shaken by these sad events and by the mishandling of these situations on the part of the church," O'Malley said. "I see there are great needs here and I will do my best to meet those needs."
The system established in Fall River includes referring victims to social workers unaffiliated with the church and conducting background checks, including a criminal records check. Any priest, seminarian, employee or volunteer whose position involves access to children must take part in an abuse prevention workshop and complete a detailed questionnaire about his or her past.
In the Porter cases, the diocese paid for therapy, medication and residential treatment for the victims.
O'Malley was born in Lakewood, Ohio, and served as bishop in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, before his transfer to Fall River in 1992. In the 1970s, he ran the Catholic Hispanic Center in Washington and served as vicar for the Hispanic, Portuguese and Haitian communities.