No big deal for this cardinal-to-be

No big deal for this cardinal-to-be

When a diocesan ordinary is elevated to the College of Cardinals, it is usually a time of celebration, not just for the new cardinal and his family and friends, but for his entire archdiocese. It is traditional for a large traveling party to be organized with representatives from across the archdiocese, major benefactors, Knights of Malta, Knights of Columbus, and so on.

However, it seems that in Boston the mantle of cardinal will rest a little heavily on its archbishop. The way O’Malley spoke of it to reporters after his appointment, you’d think he was being sentenced to hard time.

Still it’s remarkable that, on the very day of the happy announcement, a prominent civic leader in Boston would say, for the record, that he was “uncomfortable” with this honor for the archbishop, in fact “very saddened by the appointment.”

Who would make such a gratuitously nasty comment? Some anti-Catholic bigot? A longtime enemy of the archbishop? A bitter critic of the Pope? No, it was Sean O’Malley.

More evidence that he’s going to be a different kind of cardinal comes from the fact that the Archdiocese of Boston has announced today that it is not organizing the traditional traveling party. If individuals and groups want to go to Rome on their own for the ceremonies, the chancery will release schedules and coordinate invitations, but that’s it.

Perhaps that’s some of O’Malley’s humility and lack of real desire for this honor showing through. Perhaps it’s a recognition that on the heels of the Scandal, parish closings, and public fights over gay marriage, gay adoption, and what not, an ostentatious celebration in Rome might be seen as being in bad taste.

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