Who’s the most powerful Catholic in America?

by Lorena O’Neil, Ozy.com | USAToday.com  |  published on March 23, 2014

Despite his highly influential religious office, he makes time to sit with the people, comfort the sick, and help the poor. He often forgoes traditional fancy threads and maintains a quiet, humble disposition. He is, above all things, a pastoral man.

If you think we’re talking about Pope Francis, think again.

His support transcends ideology. Both conservatives and liberals seem to really love him.

If you were to see Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley walking around in his characteristic brown smock, with a small ego but a big laugh, you might not even realize that he is the single most important American prelate. As one of the eight cardinals Pope Francis famously selected to advise him in April 2013, and the only one from the United States, O’Malley has the ear of the pope.

As Francis stirs a worldwide resurgence of interest in the Catholic Church, it’s worth noting that American Catholics have a pastoral cardinal of their own who’s shifting views of the church. Yesterday, Pope Francis named O’Malley one of eight members in the new Vatican anti-abuse commission confronting child sex abuse scandals. He is the lone American on the commission.

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