Archbishop Dolan Is Named a Cardinal

By J. David Goodman and Sharon Otterman
New York Times
January 6, 2012

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan speaks to the media after celebrating mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, who has led the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for nearly three years, will be named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican announced on Friday.

The Archdiocese of New York is widely considered the spiritual heart of the American church. It counts about 2.6 million Catholics in a sprawling jurisdiction that includes includes Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and several suburban counties.

"As a kid, I just wanted to be a parish priest," the cardinal-designate said in an early morning news conference at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. "And to think that now the pope has named me a cardinal— that's awesome."

Eight of the ten archbishops in the history of the New York archdiocese have been named cardinals, so the announcement was not unexpected. Still, the timing was surprising, because Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the archbishop emeritus of New York, will not turn 80 until April. Cardinals under age 80 are eligible to vote in papal elections, and it is unusual, although not unprecedented, for a diocese to have two cardinals eligible to vote at the same time.

One person, however, was ready for the news: Archbishop Dolan's mother, Shirley, whom he called after receiving the news from the Vatican's representative in Washington on Thursday morning.

"She said it's about time," the archbishop said, laughing. "Only moms can say that. "

Archbishop Dolan, 61, who was born in Missouri and headed the archdiocese of Milwaukee before coming to New York, is highly respected among his fellow prelates, and he serves as the elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Dolan was among 22 cardinals-designate named by Pope Benedict XVI on Friday. Eighteen of them, including Archbishop Dolan, are under the age of 80, and are therefore eligible to participate in the conclave to elect a new pope if Benedict dies. There are ordinarily around 120 cardinals who serve as papal electors at any given time.

Vatican Radio carried the official announcement and the names of all those who will be elevated in a ceremony on Feb. 18.

Chosen to succeed Cardinal Edward M. Egan in February 2009, Archbishop Dolan, folksy and gregarious, has made a point of waking up early to lead Mass each weekday morning at St. Patrick's Cathedral. That is where he was on Friday, in ivory robes before about 100 worshipers to mark his elevation and the Feast of the Epiphany.

He lifted his eyes to the sky in gratitude as he said the words that would have extra meaning on this day, "All glory and honor is yours forever and ever." It was a special celebration, he said from the altar, "because of the new call to service."

In the news conference, he said he was "honored, humbled, and grateful" by his elevation to the top of the church hierarchy.

"It's as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium; or on the spires of Saint Patrick's Cathedral or any of our other parish churches," he said. He said becoming cardinal was not about himself but "about an affirmation of love from the Pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community."

The news was greeted warmly by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who said Friday of Archbishop Dolan, "He's a good guy. I think it's great for New York City and great for the church."

And Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, referring to the archbishop as "my friend," said in a statement, "Archbishop Dolan has been a faithful and dedicated leader, who has always put service to others as his first priority. Our state has been blessed by Archbishop Dolan's vision and leadership, and I offer him my support and friendship as he continues to lead the Catholic Church here in New York."

Since the late 19th century, nearly all the archbishops of New York have been named cardinals, including Cardinal Egan's immediate predecessors, John J. O'Connor, Terence J. Cooke and Francis J. Spellman, who all died in office.

The cardinals-designate named by the Vatican Friday also include Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who was archbishop of Baltimore until August 2011, and now serves at the Vatican as the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. About half of the new group currently serves at the Vatican as part of the Roman Curia, which is the central administration of the church.

An American was also ordained on Friday to the rank of archbishop, Monsignor Charles Brown, who is being sent as a Vatican diplomat to Ireland, which is reeling from the effects of a vast clerical sex abuse scandal. Monsignor Brown serves in the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the doctrinal arm which is also responsible for disciplining errant priests.

In recent months, Pope Benedict has been showing his age and begun using a wheeled platform to reach the main altar of Saint Peter's Basilica. But the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, has said that the pope had no particular maladies and paces himself as best he can for a man of his age.

The new appointments will raise to 214 the total number of cardinals, including 125 under age 80. About half of the cardinals are from Europe, including 52 Italians.

Vatican watchers say that since Pope Benedict was elected pope in 2005, the Vatican hierarchy has been increasingly dominated by Italians and Europeans, even as the majority of the world's Catholics live in Latin America and Africa. Pope Benedict has made two visits as pope to Africa and in March is expected to make his first visit as pope to Mexico and Cuba.


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