ROME—Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley today said he was looking forward to returning to Boston, expressing what sounded like relief that he had not been chosen pope even as he reflected on his satisfaction in having taken part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
“I never imagined as a child that someday I would be part of a conclave,’’ said O’Malley, who was named cardinal in 2006 and took over as leader of the Boston Archdiocese in 2003.
He described the quiet humility and disarmingly approachable personality of the new pope, a native of Argentina whose given name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“It was beautiful to see how he was able to hush hundreds of thousands of people,’’ O’Malley said, referring to the pope’s address to the throngs gathered at St. Peter’s Square Wednesday night after his election.
O’Malley said he had lunch with Francis before he was chosen pope. He seemed very weighed down by what was happening, but O’Malley said that after the election, Francis seemed to be at peace.
O’Malley said he was happy to get back to Boston for Holy Week celebrations and indicated he was happy that the papal lifestyle would not be his.
“He’s a prisoner in a museum,’’ O’Malley said of the pope, drawing laughter from Boston area reporters. “It’s not a wonderful life.’’
He recalled how the late Pope John Paul II used to sneak out of the Vatican so he could go skiing.
“I hope that Pope Francis will be able to sneak out occasionally to go to a tango show,’’ O’Malley said, referring to the national dance of Argentina.
O’Malley expressed approval that a Latin American cardinal had been chosen pope, saying this was significant also for Boston with its growing immigrant community.
“I am looking forward to inviting him someday to Boston,’’ O’Malley said.David Filipov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davidfilipov