As a Franciscan Friar, O'Malley Brings New Look

By Jules Crittenden
Boston Herald
July 2, 2003

The Catholic hierarchy has sent a specific message by appointing Franciscan friar and bishop Sean P. O'Malley to lead the troubled Archdiocese of Boston, friars and observers said.

"We are called to be peacemakers, to heal wounds, unite what has fallen apart and bring home those who have lost their way," said the Rev. David Convertino, a Franciscan friar at St. Anthony's Shrine in downtown Boston, quoting the order's 13th-century founder, Francis of Assissi.

"I'm sure that is what they (Vatican officials) had in mind when they appointed him," Convertino said.

O'Malley is a member of the Franciscan Capuchin order, one of seven closely related orders of the nearly 800-year-old Franciscan tradition that is traced back to St. Francis of Assissi's efforts to turn from the wealth and power of the medieval Catholic Church to Christian life as it was expressed in the gospels. Unlike other movements with similar goals, the Franciscans managed to avoid being deemed heretical, said Harvard Divinity School professor Harvey Cox.

"St. Francis never explicitly condemned the hierarchy for displays of wealth. He allowed the fact that this order existed and was living simply to reverberate and make its message that way," Cox said.

The Capuchin order was founded in the 16th century as a reaction to what was seen as the failure of the original order to strictly adhere to Franciscan rules of simplicity. Today, the different orders are closely affiliated, although they remain organizationally separate and are distinguished largely by the nature of their missions and dress - pointed, soft hoods for Capuchins; rounded, shaped hoods for OFM Franciscans. Capuchins today concentrate heavily on missionary work to Third World countries, while OFM friars are more likely to be found in parish and social service work domestically.

All Franciscans take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and living in a community.


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