WBUR

O’Malley Downplays Talk He’s A Papal Front-Runner

Audio report above is WBUR’s Bob Oakes’ interview with reporter R.D. Sahl, who’s in Rome for the conclave.

BOSTON — Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley is downplaying new reports that he’s one of the front-runners to become the next pope.

This weekend, O’Malley led a poll among Vatican experts published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. He also topped a reader poll posted on the newspaper’s website.

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley arrives to his titular church of Santa Maria alla Vittoria in Rome to celebrate Mass, Sunday. (Domenico Stinellis/AP)

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley arrives to his titular church of Santa Maria alla Vittoria in Rome to celebrate Mass, Sunday. (Domenico Stinellis/AP)

The cardinal led a Mass in Rome on Sunday. It’s expected to be his final public appearance until the conclusion of the conclave to elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

“Pews were packed with the faithful, and every other nook and cranny in the church was taken up by reporters and photographers, reflecting the strong interest — at least in the Italian press — about Cardinal O’Malley and his chances of becoming the first American pope,” said reporter and Boston University journalism professor R.D. Sahl, who’s covering the conclave for WBUR.

According to Sahl, after the Mass, in English, O’Malley “in reference to his own chances, assured them he would be back as their cardinal after the conclave.”

O’Malley and 114 other cardinals begin the conclave Tuesday in the Sistene Chapel.

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