Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Launching our 2023 Catholic Appeal

Hello and welcome!

One of the suggestions made during the meetings of cardinals before the start of the last conclave was the possibility of the new pope having a cabinet of cardinals who could serve as his advisors.  So, shortly after Pope Francis was elected, he established the Council of Cardinals, popularly called the C9 because it consisted of nine cardinals from throughout the world.  The Holy Father asked me to be part of it, and I have had the great privilege to work with him and the other cardinals in the preparation of the various reforms of the Roman Curia — the changes to the different dicasteries and other innovations that have been promulgated by Pope Francis and institutionalized in the document “Praedicate Evangelium.”

However, since that time, a number of the cardinals have retired.  So, the Holy Father told us that he was going to renew the Council of Cardinals, and his idea was to add new members but maintain some of the previous members for continuity.

As I’m sure many of you are aware, this week, the Holy Father announced the new makeup of the council.  Cardinal Gracias of India, Cardinal Ambongo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cardinal Parolin, and myself were asked to continue on, and the Holy Father named a series of cardinals from different parts of the world to complete the membership.

For the first time will have a cardinal from Canada with Cardinal Lacroix and from Brazil with Cardinal da Rocha.  From Europe, he has named Cardinal Hollerich from Luxembourg and Cardinal Omella from Spain.  And, because the president of the Vatican City State, Cardinal Bertello, was one of those who resigned, the Holy Father has named his successor, Cardinal Vérgez of Spain, to the council.

I’m very honored to have been invited to continue to be part of the Council of Cardinals and to work with my brother Cardinals as we try to support the ministry of Pope Francis in any way that we can.

On Thursday, I went to Boston College to participate in a conference organized by Boston College, Fordham and Loyola entitled “The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II and Synodality.”  The conference brought together cardinals, bishops and theologians to discuss the state of the Church and the Holy Father’s call for synodality.

The Holy Father is presenting to the Church this very important theme of synodality as a way of bringing people together in a process of prayer and listening to discern God’s will and to energize the evangelizing mission of the Church.  There is a lot of interest in this topic right now as we prepare for the Synod beginning in the fall.  So, bringing these bishops and theologians together was an important opportunity to have a dialogue on synodality and how the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are being implemented in today’s Church.

Following the summit, I made a quick trip to Florida to join the Catholic Leadership Institute’s annual gathering.

Since I was only there for a short time, I only had an opportunity to celebrate Mass for them and deliver an address before returning to Boston.

We are very grateful for the work of CLI and for all the training that they have conducted for the priests of the archdiocese and throughout the country.  They help our priests be good shepherds and good pastors possessing the leadership qualities that are sorely needed to be a servant-leader in our parishes.  So, I’m always happy to be supportive of this institution that has made such a positive contribution to the Church in the United States and throughout the world.

Saturday, we were very happy to host the New England Pueri Cantores Youth Choir Festival and Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  Pueri Cantores is an international Catholic choral organization for students with the mission of evangelizing and deepening faith through sacred music.

About 100 youngsters from choirs all over New England came together for a full day of rehearsal and prayer.  The guest conductor for the festival was James Kennerley, the music director at St. Paul’s Choir School.

They also prepared sacred music for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Reed.

I’m sure you’ll agree the music was just stunning!

Since it was a New England-area gathering, some choirs came from as far as two hours away in difficult weather to participate!  Those who came to the festival were:  St. Cecilia Youth Schola of Ste.  Marie Parish of Manchester, NH;  Blessed Sacrament Children’s Choir of Tolland, CT; Mount Royal Academy Choir of Sunapee, NH; The Boy Choristers of St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge; the choir of St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton; the St. Margaret of Scotland Children’s Choir from Beverly; Immaculate Heart of Mary School Chorus from Still River and members of our own Cathedral of the Holy Cross Youth and Adult choirs.

Sunday, I went to Immaculate Conception Church in Salem to celebrate a Spanish Mass marking the launch of our annual Catholic Appeal.

They have a very vibrant Hispanic community, and I was very happy to be there with Father Bob Murray to thank the people for their support of the works of the archdiocese that are maintained through the annual appeal.

At the end of the Mass, parishioner Angela Quintin gave a very inspiring witness talk on the importance of supporting the Catholic Appeal and the ways it impacts our archdiocesan community.

It was a great joy to celebrate this Mass at one of our oldest and most beautiful churches, and it was very encouraging to see such a vibrant community of young families and their great love for their parish and the Church.

Monday, I met with Sylvia Fernandez Del Castillo, the new director of our Pro-Life Office.  We were very happy to get together to talk about some of the activities and plans for the coming year.   Though Sylvia is new to this position, she has been working with our previous director, Marianne Luthin, for some time.  So, she has quite a bit of experience with the pro-life ministry in the archdiocese.

We are very grateful to Marianne who has made such a huge contribution to our pro-life efforts and remains involved with our office and the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities.  And we are also very grateful to Sylvia for her willingness to step into this role, which she has done with great enthusiasm and joy.

Tuesday, I participated in a Zoom meeting with staff members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.  Over the last few weeks, we have been able to hire staff from the various continents to work with commission members.  This is a very significant step forward in advancing the mission of the commission, and this was our first opportunity to have all our new staff members together.

This is a great sign of hope for this important ministry of the Holy See, and I’m very grateful to various foundations — and the Holy See itself — that made it possible for us to increase our commission staff so dramatically.

Wednesday, we had a meeting of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s Seminary.  It’s very nice that we are now able to gather once again with the members of the board instead of constantly having virtual meetings.

We are very grateful for the contributions our trustees make to the life of the seminary.  Each of them brings a great deal of experience and dedication to the mission of forming our new priests.

Thursday, I celebrated the funeral Mass of Msgr. Peter Martocchio at Immaculate Conception in Weymouth, the parish where he was baptized and raised.  Though he served in other parishes, he eventually returned to Immaculate Conception to serve as pastor for many years.

When he was pastor in Quincy, one of his altar servers was Father Bob Blaney, who later served in the parish with him.  Father Blaney was our homilist at the Mass, and he shared wonderful stories about the life and ministry of Msgr. Martocchio.

There is something beautiful about diocesan priests being rooted in the local Church, and Msgr. Martocchio was certainly rooted in the local Church, particularly Weymouth.

That afternoon, I met with Craig Gibson and Ed Delaney of the Boston Area Order of Malta, who came to update me on some of the recent activities of the Order.

Ed had also just returned from the chapter in Rome and presented me with a copy of the new constitutions.

Finally, we are poised to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Holy Father’s pontificate next Monday, March 13.

The Holy Father is always asking for prayers, and I think this is an especially important occasion to heed that call.  We have asked our parishes to hold special remembrances for the Holy Father over this coming weekend, and on Monday, the date of the anniversary itself, I will be celebrating a television Mass on CatholicTV for the Holy Father.

Our liturgical office has sent out the following prayer as a suggestion of how we can observe this very significant anniversary of our Holy Father:


Heavenly Father,

bestow your blessings upon our Holy Father Pope Francis

as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of his election as Supreme Pontiff.

Grant him good health and strength, and guide him by the light of faith.

May he continue to shepherd us in living the joy of the Gospel,

so that together with him we may bring the Good News of Christ’s love and mercy

to all the peripheries of the world.

Through Christ our Lord, Amen.


Please join me in praying for our Holy Father at this special time!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán