The Washington Times - March 20, 2013, 11:55AM

Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Wednesday the U.S. “almost had a chance at power” of the papacy, asserting that Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley nearly got elected pope.

“We almost made it big,” Mr. Biden said. “We almost had a chance at power. We came that close, that close.”

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Cardinal O’Malley, leader of the Boston archdiocese since 2003, was said to be a contender for the papacy in the conclave that elected Pope Francis of Argentina. Mr. Biden led the U.S. delegation to Rome to attend the installation of the new pope.

Mr. Biden made his comments at the Naval Observatory in Washington as he welcomed Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to the vice president’s official residence. He joked that the vote for pope was swayed because Terry Donilon, communications director to Cardinal O’Malley and brother of White House national security adviser Tom Donilon, “said something wrong.”

The vice president also read the first line of a poem by his grandfather called “My Mother’s Land A-Ruin,” the first line of which went: “Oh how I hate the name of England …” Mr. Biden asked members of the media to consider his recitation humorous.