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Cardinal O’Malley arrives in Rome for papal conclave

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley reads the newspaper during his flight to Rome for the conclave of cardinals.

Gregory L. Tracy/The Pilot

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley reads the newspaper during his flight to Rome for the conclave of cardinals.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has arrived in Rome, where he is joining the conclave of cardinals gathering to elect the next pope.

In recent days, O’Malley, head of the Archdiocese of Boston, has brushed aside reports that he is a long shot candidate for the papacy, which will be vacated by current Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday.

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Citing his health and old age, Benedict announced his intention to resign Feb. 11, shocking the Catholic world. He will be just the fifth pope to have resigned from the office, and the first in nearly 600 years.

O’Malley and the other cardinals in Rome will meet with Benedict Thursday morning for “a time of prayer and reflection” prior to the pontiff’s official resignation, a statement from the archdiocese said.

O’Malley flew out of Boston Tuesday, the archdiocese said, showing the cardinal relaxing with a newspaper in an airplane seat.

Todd Feathers can be reached at todd.feathers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.
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