American Cardinals Sean O’Malley and Timothy Dolan would both make “excellent choices” to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, former Vatican ambassador Ray Flynn declares in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview.
O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, and Dolan, his counterpart in New York, are both considered outside chances to be the next pontiff.
And Flynn is convinced either would be a worthy head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church.
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Flynn even envisioned an American Pope in a 2001 novel. “I predicted he would come from the Boston area, and I also said that his name would be Sean,” Flynn, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 1993 to 1997, tells Newsmax. Flynn also served as Boston’s mayor from 1984 to 1993.
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Flynn, 73, who was named to the Vatican post by President Bill Clinton, was referring to his book, “The Accidental Pope,” which he co-wrote with Robin Moore.
“I believe that even more now,” Flynn says. “Because when you see the unique personality of Sean O’Malley, his humbleness, and what he did for Boston when he came here. The church was rocked with the [sex-abuse] scandal; he dealt with that very, very effectively.
“He stopped living in a mansion. He moved into a minority neighborhood of Boston right next to public housing. What a message that sent,” Flynn continues. “He wasn’t trying to become a big reformer, but that’s in fact what he did. He brought hope and confidence back to the Catholic Church at the time it was rocked with the clergy sex-abuse scandal.”
Dolan, Flynn says, “also comes from very humble roots, St. Louis, and he moved to Milwaukee as Archbishop and is now Cardinal Archbishop of New York.
“He has done great work working with the Jewish community, with the Muslim community, evangelicals, Catholics.
“Tim Dolan is a real healer; he’s somebody that brings people together. Both Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Dolan, I believe, would make excellent choices for consideration to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.”
The general congregation of cardinals met on Monday to begin the process of selecting a successor to Benedict, who is now Pope emeritus. They’re meeting at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City — and could set a date for a conclave to elect the next Pope by the end of the week.
The hope is to have a new Pope by Palm Sunday, Flynn says. Palm Sunday falls this year on March 24.
“They look at each candidate with the vision of who would be best able to lead the Catholic Church,” he tells Newsmax. “What they’ll do is they’ll decide, right now, what are the issues most important for the future of the Catholic Church. We all know that there have been scandals — and that’s why it is very, very important that they get this part of it straight, get this part of it right, and then they’ll then decide who’s the best person to lead the Catholic Church in a new direction or a direction that’s going to be positive for world opinion and for Catholics throughout the world.”
One such issue, Flynn says, is religious freedom — reflected in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lawsuit against the Obama administration last year over the birth-control coverage mandate under Obamacare.
Though a pro-life Democrat, Flynn tells Newsmax that “this is the most important issue that Catholics have ever faced in their lifetimes and in the modern history of the Catholic Church. Catholics have to get off the sidelines and have to take a real positive, assertive, activist role and being more involved in the political process.
“Not just complaining about what’s going on,” he points out, “but affecting the political outcomes because if this can happen to the Catholic faith — in terms of the government telling them what they can do, what they can’t preach, programs that they must administer, programs that they can’t administer in their institutions, whether it be a hospital or orphanages or any kind of situation — it’s a real sad sign for our democracy, for our Constitution.”
Flynn credits Dolan with standing “toe-to-toe” against the Obama administration over the issue.
“More Catholics are starting to understand the seriousness of this issue. We’re not seeing this in the newspaper. We’re not seeing this on national TV, but this focus of growing unrest with these kinds of programs coming out of the White House is starting to mobilize, open the eyes of Catholics throughout the United States.
“Sometimes, it takes a little bit of time for people to get mobilized,” Flynn tells Newsmax. “Another thing is people probably figured that this couldn’t happen in the Catholic Church: The White House, the president, telling the Catholic Church what they must do with the hospitals and orphanages and institutions of the Catholic Church.
“That’s what they’re doing. That’s what the White House is doing — and I don’t believe that Catholics will tolerate it,” he adds. “They will get involved. They will be mobilized. It’s just a question of how, when and who — and that’s what this conclave is all about.”
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