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Haverhill

February 21, 2013

Locals wonder about Cardinal O'Malley becoming pope

(Continued)

Kearney, who has led All Saints for two years, said the talk about O’Malley becoming pope “shows the respect the cardinal commands.”

”If he’s selected, he’d be an excellent choice,” Kearney said.

It has been widely suggested that because the United States is the world’s most powerful nation, it’s unlikely that the cardinals would choose a pope from this country. Indeed, going back hundreds of years, the powerful Catholic countries — France, Spain and Austria-Hungary — never had one of their cardinals elected to the papacy.

For about 450 years, until Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, became Pope John Paul II in 1978, all of the pontiffs came from Italy, which was divided into many small city-states for most of that period.

Dennis Shank, 62, of Lawrence, a lifelong Catholic and parishioner of St. Patrick Church, is among those who don’t think an American cardinal will ascend to the papal throne.

”He’s (O’Malley) not going to be pope,’’ he said. “It won’t happen. The Vatican will not elect an American. America is a superpower. To have the holy father picked from that superpower is too much. They’re not going to pick a pope from an existing superpower.

”Cardinals who enter the conclave thinking they’re the next pope will leave the conclave a cardinal,’’ he said. “We can remember back to 1978 at the death of John Paul I. Everyone expected another Italian. Instead they picked a Pole. And when John Paul II died, they picked a German. I do not believe anybody from North America will be picked, and that includes Canadians.’’

Catholics believe there is only one vote that truly counts when the new pope is elected: That of the Holy Spirit, whom the cardinals call upon when they sing the ancient hymn “Veni, Creator Spiritus” (Come, Holy Spirit) during the conclave.

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