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Midtown Friars Share Their Impressions Of A Papal Contender

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New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is not the only American who is said to be under consideration as the next pope. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, who according to some Vatican experts is emerging as one of the top candidates for the job, has spent much time in a Capuchin friary in Midtown. NY1's Manhattan reporter Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

Sean Patrick O'Malley, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, is an unmistakable presence among his fellow cardinals. He is the only Capuchin friar and wears the traditional brown habit meant to symbolize simplicity.

Now, O'Malley is also standing out because some experts say he is one of the front-runners to be the chosen as the next pope.

His Capuchin Franciscan brothers at St. John the Baptist Church in Midtown know O'Malley well. Priests there say O'Malley visits their friary often.

"His personality is quiet, firm, humorous and strong," said Rev. Francis Gasparik, one of the Capuchin Franciscans.

The brothers say, ironically, O'Malley loves the anonymity and privacy he finds in New York. He stays in a simple room in the friary and says Mass at a plain altar.

O'Malley's last visit to St. John the Baptist was only two weeks ago, just before he headed off to Rome for Pope Benedict XVI's resignation and the upcoming conclave.

"He came in very, very quietly. He has his own keys, he stayed and left before anybody saw him," Gasparik said.

They all agreed that O'Malley would make an excellent pontiff. He is known for ably dealing with the sex scandals that rocked the Boston archdiocese.

The friars said O'Malley's most impressive trait is his mastery of languages. He speaks English, Italian, French, Portugese and Spanish.

"When you reach out to people throughout the world, if you're able to speak their language, I think it makes people feel much more that you're part of who they are," said Rev. Tom Faiola, a Capuchin.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is also considered a long-shot candidate, meaning just like the Yankees and the Red Sox, this could be another "Boston vs. New York" showdown.

"Cardinal Dolan, as you know, is a big personality. Cardinal Sean is a quiet fellow," said Rev. Jack Rathschmidt, a Capuchin.

"I would reframe it and say it's not a New York/Boston thing, it's a Capuchin versus everybody thing. Who doesn't want our guy in?" said Rev. Francis Gasparik, another Capuchin.

If some Vatican pundits are correct, it could be their guy leaving a life of simplicity for the Church's grandest position.

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