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A cardinal-archbishop like none before him

Pope Benedict XVI places the red biretta on the head of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at the March 24 consistory. Pilot photo by Gregory L.Tracy

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VATICAN CITY — Once more, the Archdiocese of Boston has a cardinal-archbishop — yet one unlike any of his predecessors. For the first time in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston — and only the 10th time in Church history — the Holy Father has elevated a Capuchin friar to the position of cardinal.

On March 24, Cardinal-designate Seán P. O’Malley, together with 14 other cardinals-designate was elevated to become a prince of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

Foul weather plagued Vatican City the days preceding the consistory, and the dark threatening clouds looming overhead indicated rain would not be far away. Nevertheless, the entire College of Cardinals, hundreds of bishops and thousands of invited guests, many of them waving flags from their native countries, filled the seats in St. Peter’s Square to witness this pontiff’s first Ordinary Public Consistory.

As the choir sang the words of Psalm 32, “Exult you just in the Lord; to Him give praise,” the 15 cardinals-designate clad in their scarlet robes processed into St. Peter’s Square to animated applause and cheers. Cardinal-designate O’Malley, smiling widely, periodically paused in the procession to greet friends and family members.

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