ROME — Cardinal Sean O’Malley listed clerical sex abuse, reforming the Church’s administration and Christian persecution as some of the issues he thinks the next pope will have to tackle.
“The new pope will also need to face the sexual-abuse crisis that is really worrying our people,” he stated in a March 4 interview with Catholic News Agency.
Another issue on his radar is the need to improve the relationships between the various departments of the Church’s central governing body, as well as with the universal Church.
“The relationship between the Church and the Muslim world is very important as well as the Church’s persecution in many countries and the lack of education in others,” Cardinal O’Malley added.
But Cardinal O’Malley also sees that there are positive developments for the Church, since it is “growing and flourishing.”
“We know that this is true, since 4 million young people are hoping to meet with the new pope in this summer’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro,” said the cardinal.
Cardinal O’Malley of Boston is currently attending preliminary meetings with fellow cardinals in preparation for choosing the new pope. The gatherings include both cardinals who can vote for the next pontiff and those who are above the age limit of 80.
At the first general meeting this morning, 142 cardinals were present, but 12 had not yet arrived in Rome.
“The meetings are very important because they give us the opportunity to know us better and to share information about the Church’s situation in different parts of the world,” Cardinal O’Malley explained.
“They also help us discuss about the Church’s governing body and the characteristics we should look for in a possible papal candidate,” he added.
And it’s important that cardinals with a “very rich experience and wisdom” share it with those participating in a conclave for the first time, including himself, Cardinal O’Malley said.
The assemblies are also a “spiritual retreat” that carry “a prayerful atmosphere of deep reflection and a searching of God’s will,” he explained.
As he and his brother cardinals continue to meet and prepare for the conclave, Cardinal O’Malley is hoping that it will be like a novena.
“This needs to be like the novena before Pentecost, so that the Holy Spirit can pour over us to help us find our new Peter,” he said.
In his view, the most important thing Catholics can do now is to pray, so that the Holy Spirit guides the cardinals in the upcoming papal election: “It’s important to pray with a lot of faith and to try to do our duty of being spokespeople of the Gospel and to try to live the New Evangelization, inviting others to follow Christ.”
Alejandro Bermudez contributed to this report from Rome.