O'Malley, a papal contender, gives homily in Italian
Boston archbishop among three Americans in running for papacy11 March, 17:30
It was standing-room only at O'Malley's titular church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, where both the faithful and the media crowded to hear the Capuchin Franciscan celebrate mass and deliver a homily in Italian - a sign that Vatican watchers say could be interpreted as an audition for becoming the bishop of Rome.
O'Malley, who at sometimes struggled to find the proper pronunciation, opened with a joke about the church's famous statue of Saint Teresa in Ecstasy by Bernini.
"When I first took possession of this beautiful church, I said, joking, I thought I might take the statue home to Boston with me," he said to a chuckling audience. "The response was, 'Napoleon already tried'".
His homily focused on the classic Lenten themes of the Prodigal Son and Christ the Good Shepherd, "for whom every sheep is precious".
Through the steady bursts of flashbulbs, his mild but steady voice carried a message of welcome for those who have left the church, and one of openness for the church itself to receive the lost.
But it was early in his homily that he made it clear, as he has in the past, that he has no intention of being raised to the throne of St Peter.
"I wish to assure you I will return to Boston as a cardinal after the conclave, and perhaps I'll take St. Teresa with me," he said. O'Malley is among three cardinals from the US who have been widely touted as papal candidates going into the conclave starting Tuesday. The other two are New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl. All three face hurdles, mainly a longstanding bias in the College of Cardinals against electing a pope from the world's last superpower, but also from the laity. Last week, the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) named all three on their 'dirty dozen' list of cardinals who should not be considered based on their records on the sex abuse scandal in the Church.