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Cardinal discusses St. Paul with downtown crowd

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley speaks on the life of St. Paul during his ‘‘Christ Speaks in the City’’ lecture at the Old State House in downtown Boston Dec. 12. Pilot photo/ Neil W. McCabe

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Speaking on the life and ministry of St. Paul, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley Dec. 12 delivered the closing address of the fall season of the “Christ Speaks in the City” lecture series at Boston’s Old State House.

The Church is in the middle of its Pauline Year, which runs until June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, marking the 2,000th anniversary of Paul’s birth.

The cardinal said he had made a serious study of St. Paul as a seminarian, and his talk was a modest attempt to condense his reflections on St. Paul in the 45 minutes he was allotted.

While some of the topics the cardinal said he meant to address had to be left out in the interest of time, he said he was glad he was able to express the importance of Paul’s conversion and his contributions to the catholicity of the Church.

When he was growing up in western Pennsylvania, the cardinal said he knew of a non-Catholic church named for St. Paul that was eventually purchased by the diocese and promptly renamed The Conversion of St. Paul. “That would never happen today.”

More than 35 years ago, then as a Capuchin brother in Washington, the cardinal said he was speaking to a group of Cubans, including some veterans of the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion. He tried to illustrate the dramatic nature of this conversion which, he suggested to them, was similar to Fidel Castro becoming a great holy man of the Church.

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