New Yorker Among 22 New Cardinals

By Stacy Meichtry
Wall Street Journal
January 7, 2012

New cardinals' caps are carried at the 2006 consistory at the Vatican.

ROME—Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals—including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Edwin O'Brien, the former archbishop of Baltimore—refreshing the ranks of Roman Catholic prelates who one day will vote in the election of his successor.

Speaking to faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square on Friday to celebrate the Epiphany, the pope said he planned to elevate the prelates to the rank of cardinal during a Feb. 18 ceremony, known as a consistory.

As cardinals, the prelates will become "princes" of the church and close advisers of the pontiff.

The most important duty facing the future cardinals, however, is their responsibility to cast votes in a papal election, or conclave. Of the 22 new cardinals, 18 are under the age of 80, making them eligible to vote in the next conclave. The consistory will bring the number of voting-age cardinals to 125.

In naming his future cardinals, the 84-year-old pope drew heavily from archdioceses in Italy and from the Vatican's government, the Roman Curia. Italy's representation in the College of Cardinals will grow by seven votes, giving it a quarter of the total votes, up from 22%.

The incoming cardinals, therefore, will reinforce Western countries' dominance in deciding the future of the Catholic Church's leadership despite the church's waning influence in the West, particularly in Europe.

Three of the future cardinals hail from the developing world, which has become a source of growth for the Catholic Church in recent decades. They are George Alencherry, archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly in India; Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong; and Archbishop Joo Brz de Aviz, the Brazilian-born head of the Vatican's office for religious life.

The elevation of Archbishop Dolan and Archbishop O'Brien, whose title is Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, brings the number of American voting-age cardinals to 12.

In a rare departure from papal tradition, the pope decided to elevate the 61-year-old Archbishop Dolan while a second New York cardinal, retired Archbishop Edward Egan, 79, is still eligible to vote in a conclave.

"It's as if Pope Benedict is putting a red hat on top of the Empire State Building," Archbishop Dolan said in a statement, adding that he was "honored, humbled and grateful."

Over the years, Archbishop Dolan has earned a reputation as an uncommonly strong and charismatic recruiter of new priests at a time when the Catholic priesthood is struggling to grow in the Western world.

He has risen relatively quickly in the ranks. In the 1990s, he was rector at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In 2002, he became archbishop of Milwaukee, which was then reeling from scandal caused by widespread allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests. In 2009, the pope appointed him to head the Archdiocese of New York, one of the most high-profile jobs in the American Catholic Church.

Vatican analyst John Allen said Archbishop Dolan's media savvy, combined with his strong support for papal policies, have made him the Vatican's "go-to guy" in the American Catholic Church, where he serves as head of the U.S. Bishops Conference.

Mr. Allen, who recently published a book-length interview with Archbishop Dolan, said the prelate's push to revive priestly vocations and church attendance also dovetails with the pope's drive to "re-evangelize" the West.

"He's perceived as the premier evangelist in the American church with a unique force of personality," Mr. Allen said.



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