Feb. 23, 2006 — The leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in the Virgin Islands welcomed the announcement that former V.I. Bishop Sean P. O'Malley will be elevated to the position of cardinal. Pope Benedict XVI announced Wednesday that O'Malley and another American archbishop were among 15 new appointments.
O'Malley, 61, the archbishop of the diocese in Boston, served eight years as Bishop of the Catholic Church in the Virgin Islands beginning in 1985.
Virgin Islands Bishop George V. Murry said the Catholic community is proud of the latest developments at the Vatican.
"It's a great honor both for Archbishop – now Cardinal – O'Malley, and for the diocese where he now serves," Murry said. "We are also honored that he served here for eight years.
"That he was chosen by the Holy Father indicates the Pope's trust in him," Murry said, adding that it is a distinguished honor for O'Malley to have been named to what the "Pope has himself called a Senate of Cardinals that help to advise the Holy Father on the direction in which the church should go."
When O'Malley left the Virgin Islands in 1992, he took an assignment in Fall River, Mass., and later in Palm Beach, Fla., before being named archbishop of Boston.
O'Malley was named coadjutor bishop to the territory in 1984. O'Malley spent a year in preparation for leadership of the local diocese which he assumed in 1985 from the late Edward J. Harper. O'Malley, who was honored by the Holy Family Parish last month, served as bishop through August 1992.
Dr. Alfred O. Heath, who attended O'Malley's installation in Boston a few years ago, said Wednesday that he was "ecstatic" and "overwhelmed" that "this deserving honor has been bestowed."
Heath described O'Malley as "a long-time friend, a true shepherd and advisor."
"This honor is justly due," Heath said, recalling O'Malley's presence at the dedication of the Sea View Nursing Home, which Heath owns.
"And I look forward to congratulating him in Rome when I attend his elevation ceremony – if not sooner."
A Boston Chronicle online newspaper story Wednesday said that elevation ceremonies are tentatively scheduled for March 24 in Vatican City.
During his tenure in the Virgin Islands, O'Malley oversaw the launching of many outreach activities under the Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands banner, including Bethlehem House Shelter for the Homeless.
O'Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan friar, has been known for his low-key style. He wears the simple brown robe and sandals of his order and chose to live in the rectory of Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross while selling the mansion that had been used by his predecessors. The proceeds of the sale went to raising money for the Archdiocese of Boston.
O'Malley is also known for his conservative stand on church doctrine, including his opposition to gay marriage. As archbishop of Boston, O'Malley negotiated an $85 million settlement with 554 persons molested by priests and started a financial reorganization of the archdiocese which included closing more than 80 churches.
O'Malley said Wednesday in a prepared statement from his office in Boston that he was humbled and honored to have been chosen for elevation to Cardinal. "In the immediacy of receiving this honor from the Holy Father, in a spirit of charity, I ask for the prayerful support of the people of Boston as I assume this important role in the life of the Church."
In the Virgin Islands, Bishop Murry extended congratulations and offered the prayers of Catholics here. "All of us are praying for him and we are wishing him the best as he takes on this new challenge…a new and distinguished position."
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