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What it means to turn 80 as a Cardinal

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On 29 June, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley from Ohio will celebrate his 80th birthday, removing his right to vote in a future conclave. His tenure as the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will also come an end.

He is a founding member of the inner circle of cardinals that advises the pope on the governance of the church called the Council of Cardinals.

Created a cardinal in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, he stands out for his red hat with the brown habit of his religious order, the Capuchin Franciscans.

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“I’ve worn this uniform for over 40 years, and I presume that I will wear it until I will die, because I don’t expect to be elected pope, so I don’t expect to have a change in wardrobe,” he said.

As president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, he has spoken about the church’s urgent task in confronting the crisis of abuse. And he highlighted the focus must be placed on protecting children.

“The principle that was so clearly articulated by John Paul II, ‘there is no place in ministry for someone who harms a child,’ and that has to be a line in the sand,” he said.

Responding to criticism that the commission’s progress has been slow, Cardinal O’Malley reiterated its mission: improving the church’s response to sexual abuse.

O’Malley is the American cardinal with the most prestige at the Vatican with his current positions. And with his birthday, the number of American cardinals eligible to vote in a future conclave drops to nine.

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