When Pope Benedict XVI announced the list for his first group of named cardinals yesterday, some Catholics in Massachusetts were surprised to see their own Archbishop Sean O’Malley on the list--while others thought the elevation only fitting.
Cardinal-designate O’Malley was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II to oversee the Archdiocese of Boston during the height of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the epicenter of which fell largely in that Archdiocese.
According to the Boston Globe, Jim Marotta, an area parishioner, said yesterday that when the Archbishop arrived, "This city was hurting really bad…I think a lot of us were having some problems, and then the closing of the churches didn't help at all.
“And yet,” he said, “the man has still kept it all together."
Often controversial Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (D), himself a Catholic who has vocally opposed the Church on many issues, said that he sees the elevation as a “great personal tribute to [O‘Malley], and…an important day for Boston, because it's a recognition of the people of faith” there.
He called the city “a place of men and women, of families, that are strong believers, and I think it's a compliment to the people here in Boston and, I think, all families are looking forward to a future and a positive hopeful time in the future."
Likewise, Boston’s Catholic mayor, Tom Menino, who has been criticized by Cardinal-elect O’Malley for his stance on abortion and same-sex marriage, said yesterday that the “decision serves as recognition of the Cardinal-Elect's tireless leadership during difficult and trying times.”
He praised the Archbishop’s work with the immigrant populations which, he said, “mean so much to the future of the Church and our City.”
“…As a Catholic,” Menino added, “I am proud that the Holy See has honored the Archdiocese of Boston with a Cardinal-Elect. This reflects the national and world standing of the Archdiocese, the City and its people.”
Not all shared this enthusiasm over the appointment however. According to the Globe, Mitchell Garabedian, an area attorney who is still pursuing a number of abuses charges against the Archdiocese said that, "Many victims consider it a slap in the face that Archbishop O'Malley has been rewarded for a job not very well done."
Bishop Robert J. McManus, S.T.D., of the nearby Diocese of Worcester, MA, however, had nothing but congratulations to offer Cardinal-designate O’Malley. He also thanked the Holy Father “for elevating [O’Malley] to the College of Cardinals.”
“The Holy Father is assuring us”, he wrote in a statement, “by his decision that the community of faith in this part of New England, which is guided by Cardinal-designate O’Malley from the Metropolitan See of Boston, continues to be an important voice in the universal Church.”