Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Cardinal Seán’s Profile

Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap.

Cardinal OMalley, photo by Gregory L. Tracy
(Pilot photo by Gregory L. Tracy)

Cardinal Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap. is the ninth bishop and sixth archbishop in the more than 200 year history of the Archdiocese of Boston.

He was born in Lakewood, Ohio, June 29, 1944, son of the late Theodore and Mary Louise (Reidy) O’Malley. He attended St. Gabriel and Sacred Heart Elementary Schools in Pennsylvania and St. Fidelis High School, a high school seminary conducted by the Capuchin fathers, in Butler, Pa.

He prepared for the priesthood at St. Fidelis Seminary, also in Butler, and at the Capuchin College in Washington, D.C. He was professed on July 14, 1965 in the Capuchin Order, a religious order dedicated to following in the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi.

On Aug. 29, 1970, Pittsburgh’s Auxiliary Bishop John B. McDowell ordained him a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in religious education and a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese Literature, both at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he also taught from 1969 to 1973.

In 1973 he began serving as Executive Director of El Centro Catolico Hispano in the Washington Archdiocese before being named Episcopal Vicar for the Hispanic, Portuguese and Haitian communities and executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Social Ministry in 1978. It was during these early days of his priesthood that Cardinal O’Malley developed a strong commitment to the issues of social justice and care for new immigrants.

Pope John Paul II appointed him as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands on May 30, 1984. The Most Rev. Edward J. Harper, CSSR, the bishop of St. Thomas assisted by Washington’s Archbishop James A. Hickey and one of the capital city’s auxiliary bishops, Bishop Eugene Marino, SSJ, ordained him a bishop on Aug. 2, 1984 at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Thomas, V.I.  He became the diocesan bishop of the Caribbean diocese, succeeding Bishop Harper, on Oct. 16, 1985.

On June 16, 1992 Pope John Paul II announced the appointment of Bishop O’Malley as the sixth bishop of Fall River. At the time, the Fall River Diocese was reeling in the aftermath of the case of Father James Porter, one of the first high-profile clergy abuse cases in the country.

Cardinal O’Malley was installed at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption on Aug. 11, 1992, the Feast of St. Clare, a Franciscan feast day. As Bishop of Fall River, he was widely credited with bringing healing to the diocese following the Porter scandal, settling over 100 clergy abuse cases, meeting with victims and instituting a “zero-tolerance policy” for clergy accused of abuse of minors.

During his 10 years in Fall River, he was involved with the wider community both within the diocese itself and in the Commonwealth. He was active in the work of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, especially on pro-life issues.

While Bishop of Fall River, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops, which was held at the Vatican in the fall of 1998. He has also served as Apostolic Visitator for several seminaries in Central America and the Caribbean.

On Sept. 3, 2002, Pope John Paul II named him to be the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, which had seen its previous bishop resign six months earlier after admitting to abuse of minors. He was installed at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens on Oct. 19, 2002.

After less than a year in Palm Beach, on July 1, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Boston, which at the time was experiencing its own clergy abuse scandal that had resulted in the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law.

Cardinal O’Malley was installed archbishop on July 30, 2003 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He immediately set about meeting with victims of clergy sexual abuse, settling new and pending cases, and implementing mandatory child safety training programs.  He gained world-wide attention for his decision in April 2004 to sell millions of dollars’ worth of archdiocesan property, including the archbishop’s mansion, to settle clergy abuse claims.

Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to cardinal at the consistory held March 24, 2006 and gave him the titular church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The Holy Father also named him a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

During a trip to Rome to take formal possession of his titular church in September 2006, Cardinal O’Malley became the first cardinal in the world to launch a personal blog,, which he continues to update weekly.

In the late 2000’s, with the immediate effects of the clergy abuse crisis in Boston largely passed, Cardinal O’Malley turned his attention to the long-term spiritual and fiscal health of the archdiocese. He implemented plans to conserve parish resources, launched the Campaign for Catholic Schools aimed at strengthening and expanding the existing schools, and stabilized the archdiocese’s lay-employee and clergy pension systems as well as the clergy health and retirement funds.

He has also put a great emphasis on vocations and outreach of the Church to youth, including expanding the archdiocese’s use of the Internet and social media and encouraging participation in pilgrimages to the International World Youth Days and the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

After the unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict in 2013, Cardinal O’Malley found himself the subject of international media attention when Vatican observers began to speculate that he could be chosen by his fellow cardinals as the next pope.

Shortly after Pope Francis’s March 2013 election, the Holy Father selected Cardinal O’Malley to be the only North American member of his Council of Cardinal Advisors — commonly called the “Group of 9” or simply the “G9” — who advise the Holy Father on the restructuring of the Roman Curia.  The council began its meetings in October 2013 and continues meet regularly with the Holy Father every two months. Pope Francis has also asked him to lead the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which held its first meeting in May 2014.

Cardinal O’Malley is an active member of the United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops and he currently serves as outgoing chairman of their Committee Pro-Life Activities. Previously, he headed the Commission on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He is also a member of the USCCB Administrative Board, a member of the committees on Migration and Pro-Life Activities and the subcommittees on the Church in Africa and the Church in Latin America.

Throughout his years as bishop, Cardinal O’Malley has served on numerous other commissions and committees, including Missions (of which he was chairman), Priestly Formation, Hispanic Affairs, Migration, as well as serving on the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services, the Association for the Development of the Catholic University of Portugal and on the board of trustees of his alma mater, The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

73 responses to “Cardinal Seán’s Profile”

  1. la scrive emminenzia anzitutto per augurarla un santo natale di pace e gioia nel signore. sono cappuccino della provincia di Siracusa(italy) e da alcuni anni che la accompagno con la preghiera e con l’entusiasmo del vostro lavoro pastorale. credo che il BLOG ci voleva e davvero un canale di comunicazione assai importante per tutti, compreso i cristiani della sua diocesi. auguri di buon natale a lei e che la vergine santa la protega e la illumini sempre nel suo servizio alla chiesa e alla diocesi di boston. buon natale e un anno nuovo di gioia e pace a lei, alla diocesi e a tutto il popolo americano . shalom by Raffaele

  2. Hello, I wanted to say Congrats on the Blog, and Podcasting. I was born catholic, but not really practicing, but I do still watch the church. Embracing technology is nice to see from the church. If you need help, I am willing to give a hand. Merry Christmas.

  3. Your Emminence
    I have just visited your blog for the first time after seeing an article about it on cnn. I think your ideas of using bloging and podcasting to reach people are great. The more ways that are availabe to people reach the church has to be good and i hope your efforts are succesul.
    Thomas McSpadyen, Scotland, UK

  4. This is the first time I’ve visited this site. How awsome is our God. It’s about time we’ve used the gift of technology to get the word out. As we know, it DOES belong to God!

    My memory of you, Cardinal Sean, is when you were Bishop of Fall River. I was touched by your simplicity. I’ll never forget when you were re-assigned to Florida and you visited the Holy Spirit conference at the Cape. After your humble goodby, you left on foot, walked out of the arena and all around the perimeter to your awaiting vehicle without pomp and circumstance. Now that you are in the “RED” so to speak, you still convey a simplicty with power, much like Jesus! It is a true blessing to me to have been touched by our ministry. God bless all that he calls you to do. Be assured of my prayers.

  5. You Eminence,
    Congratulations with your wunderful blog. It is a modern way to bring the life of Christ to us. I hope you shall have much visitors and the all come back often. I am a Xaverian brother, I live in Knokke, Belgium. There are also brothers from our congegation in the States and I am sure they are proud to have a bisshop with a modern vision in our Catholic Church. Go on Monseigneur! Jozef cfx.

  6. Your Eminence,
    Pax Christi.
    I do appreciate your blog and more so your message. This is truly a great tool, one which our students at the Campus appreciates also.

    Keep on writing. God bless your ministry in Boston.

  7. Do you still hold that it does violence to children to be raised by same-sex couples? That’s ok. We all make mistakes.

  8. I heard of your blog today. I look forward to articles teaching various facets of the Catholic faith plus local and worldwide happenings. A good subject: the differences between a bishop, archbishop and cardinal and their particular duties.

  9. Dear Cardinal Sean, Thank you for bringing your ideas and events to us on the web. This is like a lamp in the darkness.

    I wish more of our Catholic leaders would make use of this technology to reach out to the faithful and those who are searching for faith.

    God Bless you, Carmela del Sagrado Corazon, OCDS

  10. Your Eminence,

    I read your sotry on and think your leadership in the tecnology area is fantastic. All my prayers for a successful evangilization to the rest of the church!

    All the best in this Christmas season.


  11. your eminence it is a pleasure to find your blog, it gives me a chance to see other dioceses and their operation. i live in lewiston ny, north of niagara falls which is in the buffalo diocese. please pray for us. MIKE GALLAGHER

  12. Dec. 21/06 Today is my Mothers birthday and if living would be 118 years old. She and my Father were parents of twelve children and I am the youngest. I read where you were born in Ohio and when we drove to Boston from Atlantic Canada we would often see Registered Autos from your State of Ohio. My Mother would often ask, ” where is zero H ten”? I recall many happenings growing up and one is that my Father was a daily Communicant and often took my place as an Alter Boy. He would often say never leave your Church because of an individual as they are human as we all are and always Keep The Faith.
    Dominus Vobiscum

  13. Your Eminence,I live in Sydney,Australia,and receive the
    Catholic news daily on my computer.I wish to thank you for
    the wonderful items that you show on your website.There
    have been some great stories on the Catholic news,one recently was from a Fransican Friar in Russia,and there was a lovely story on the Chaplin to the NY Fire Dept.,who was
    killed in the World Towers explosion.I pray that god will give
    you all the blessings to be able to continue with your web-
    site,and look forward to receiving it.God Bless

  14. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I just read about your blog in the Florida Catholic and I couldn’t resist visiting. This is my first visit to a blog, ever !

    I grew up in the Fall River Diocese (1950-1968) and lived in the Archdiocese of Boston (1968-2000), prior to moving to Florida.
    I am so impressed by how you are providing leadership in the Catholic Church. You are truly acting like a shepherd.

    As I read your blog, I got a real sense of the universality of the Catholic Church. What you are talking about in Boston, and in your travels, matches what I am hearing about here in Florida.

    My husband and I attended Mass on Thanksgiving at our new home parish, St. Margaret Mary in Winter Park, FL. It has become a tradition for us. The church was full, as always, and it was a very uplifting way to start our Thanksgiving holiday.

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower. It was like visiting my childhood, without having to
    experience the New England weather.

    I have bookmarked your site for future visits. My other favorite Catholic sites are the “Sacred Space” in Ireland ( and the American Catholic (

    Thank you for your openness in sharing your life as a Roman Catholic Cardinal.


    Janet Cameron-Barry
    Boston College, 1972

  15. Your Eminence,

    It was great to meet you in person last Sept. when you celebrated 30th anniversay of Korean Catholic community at St. Philip Neri Sept. this year.
    I was pleasantly surprised to find your blog and read with great interest. Thanks for sharing your reflections and insights.


  16. Beloved Cardinal Sean,

    I, and a few of my friends, will be in Rome for Easter week of 2007, and we are hoping to get tickets for any/all of the celebrations going on. Unfortunately, we are not sure how to do so and have had little luck in determining the best way to go about it. I am hoping that you will be able point me in the right direction. Thank you very much for all of your services and leadership, and I hope that you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

    with peace and love in Christ,
    Leah Tangney
    Boston College 2008

    p.s. keep up the wonderful work with your blog! What a blessing to your archdiocese, for us to have such easily accessible input into the life of our Cardinal!

  17. Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
    Thank you for being such a faithful Shepherd and embracing the truths of the Catholic Church. You are leading the children closer to God as Jesus wants you to do. Know that you are in my daily prayers and I ask God to give you the courage and strength to continue your work on earth.
    Yours in Christ,
    Maryanne Linkes

  18. Your Eminence,
    I wanted to introduce myself during the General Meeting and had the opportunity. Owing to shyness, though, I just smiled (and you smiled back). I wanted to thank you, Cardinal, for your leadership. Thank you for doing so much to reclaim the Church’s integrity. Your service, I’m sure, has preserved or restored the faith of many.
    God bless you.
    PS – keep up the great work with the blog!

  19. Your Eminence:

    I am thoroughly enjoying your blog updates. Thank you for sharing your life and ministry with us. Most of all, I am grateful for your humility and prayerfulness. In the words of the old Latin greeting: Ad mutos annos. May God continue to bless you and our Blessed Mother intercede for you with her Divine Son. Rest assured of my prayers.
    Respectfully in Christ,
    Father Paul A. Burke, Atlanta, GA

  20. Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

    During the last few years we have witnessed efforts by industry, government and the church to become more efficient. With the advent of technology, many staff positions have been eliminated and organizations have merged.

    I sometimes wonder if the USCCB might take a look at the number of diocese we have with a look at possible mergers and elimination of duplicate staff effort.

    The plus might be the ability to deploy more clergy to the parishes where we need them so desparately.

    Thank you for all you do.


  21. Cardinal Sean:

    Thanks so much for being front and center and so accessible to us. It makes our faith come alive.

    God bless you,
    Susan Montalbano

  22. Dear Cardinal,
    I have struggled with returning to Church since you took it upon yourself to make the Gay marriage issue a cause that you have attempted to make a political issue that the church has taken on. What has any gay or lesbian ever done to you? Leave them alone. You chose to enter the priesthood and remain celebate…some would say that was an unnatural way of life. If two people are responsible individuals and love each other who are you or anyone else to say that they can not marry?

    This week I told myself that I was going to church. I go in , sit down start to read the bulletin and then I saw a white piece of paper with a letter from you about the Constitutional Convention. Again, you are using the church as a political machine…something I thought was not suppose to happen. The mixture of church and state leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths…why must you continually focus on a group of people
    who never did anything to you? My brother is gay. He was an altar boy, grew up in an Irish Catholic Family where the church was a central part of our lives. He is a walking saint. Always does for others. He goes to church weekly, helps out the pastor , gives lots of his hard earned cash to the church. Yet he must put up with the letters like the one today, plus listen to people in churh who make comments about about gay people. The look in his eyes is hearbreaking.

    I don’t understand.