Rorate Caeli

Cardinal O'Malley's Methodist reaffirmation

Less than a year and a half ago, Sean Cardinal O'Malley traveled from Boston to Washington, D.C. to attend a traditional Latin Requiem High Mass for U.S. pro-life leader Nellie Gray, and spoke from the pulpit after the funeral.  Also during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, Cardinal O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, administered the sacrament of confirmation using the traditional Latin books at his cathedral.

Fast-forward to the current pontificate, when Cardinal O'Malley is, as one secular publication observed, "the only North American member of the Cabinet that Francis formed to advise him."  The charity toward traditional Catholics quickly changed.

Now we have learned Cardinal O'Malley proactively asked a female Methodist minister to "re-affirm" his baptism with an "anointing" at a Protestant church this month in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

During a special ecumenical worship service in Sudbury, Cardinal Sean O'Malley asked the Rev. Anne Robertson of Plymouth to administer a baptism reaffirmation ritual to him. (George Martell/Pilot New Media)

The local newspaper, the Patriot-Ledger, reported on the female Methodist minister's "completely unexpected" request from the cardinal here:

“What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him,” she said. “It was him being willing to accept that from my hand – to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that.”

A Rhode Island native, the Rev. [Anne] Robertson was the only female clergy member who assisted at a special 50th anniversary worship service at Sudbury United Methodist Church.


As part of Sunday’s anniversary service, the 500 who filled Sudbury United Methodist to overflowing were invited to receive a drop of consecrated water on their forehead and be told, “Remember your baptism and be thankful.” The ritual resembles the ceremonial receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday, but isn’t a formal United Methodist sacrament.

Cardinal O’Malley and New England United Methodist Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar led the ritual in the sanctuary. The Rev. Robertson and a Catholic priest were on their way with small bowls of water to a side room, for others watching the service on a large-screen TV.

She paused with the priest at the cardinal’s pew, so they could receive the baptism water from Cardinal O’Malley. The next moment, the cardinal quietly asked the Rev. Robertson to administer the water for him.

“My heart immediately went to my throat,” she said. “To be asked that by the man who might be pope someday – I was stunned. I was choking back tears for hours.”

Same here.

[h/t reader]