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Clergy, laity praise new American cardinals

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Catholic News Service

Clergy and laity alike praised the naming of two new American cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI.

“This is an honor for these outstanding church leaders as well as an honor for the church in the United States,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., in a Jan. 6 statement. “As men of prayer, wisdom and dedication, they will bring many talents and graces to their new roles as advisers to the Holy Father,” said the archbishop, who is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, outgoing archbishop of Baltimore who was recently appointed pro-grand master of the Rome-based Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, were among the 22 cardinals named Jan. 6 by Pope Benedict.

Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York smiles as he addresses the news media at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York Jan. 6. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“As president of the USCCB and as former president of Catholic Relief Services, Cardinal-designate Dolan has brought both energy and grace to international and domestic matters,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“Cardinal-designate O’Brien’s experience with the military has made him a valuable consultant on USCCB justice and peace efforts,” he added. “His seminary background has proven especially insightful in development of our priestly formation programs.”

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Cardinal-designate Dolan’s predecessor in New York, said in a Jan. 6 statement from Rome that he had received a phone call from his successor with the news.

“I extended my heartfelt congratulation s and assured him of my prayers,” Cardinal Egan added. “This is wonderful news for the cardinal-designate and for the entire community of faith he serves so well.”

Cardinal-designate Dolan himself said in a Jan. 6 statement that he was “honored, humbled and grateful” at the honor. “This is about an affirmation of love from the pope to a celebrated archdiocese and community,” he added, “and a summons to its unworthy archbishop to serve Jesus, his church universal, his vicar on earth and his people better.”

“This news is a wonderful recognition of both bishops and their gifts and abilities, as well as an honor for the church in the United States,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington in a Jan. 6 statement. “The universal church is well served by these faithful and dedicated leaders.”

The Catholic University of America in Washington was quick to point out its ties to the two new U.S. cardinals-designate, noting that Cardinal-designate O’Brien currently serves on the school’s board of trustees, while Cardinal-designate Dolan was a former board member and a “double alumnus” of the university.

“I am delighted by the news that two leaders of the Catholic Church with close ties to The Catholic University of America will be installed as cardinals of the Catholic Church,” said a Jan. 6 statement by John Garvey, university president.

“This is truly a great day for the Catholic Church in New York, and across the U.S. and, indeed, the world, and a wonderful way to ring in the new year,” said a Jan. 6 statement by Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference.

Barnes noted that Cardinal-designate O’Brien is a native of the Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs, and a former priest and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. He also lauded the selection of Cardinal-designate Dolan.

“With his infectious joy, brilliant intellect and enthusiastic love of the Lord and his people, Cardinal-designate Dolan is truly a bright light in the American church,” Barnes said. “He already has become the face of the church in the United States. Now as a ‘prince of the church,’ his influence will truly extend worldwide.”

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, congratulated Cardinal-designate O’Brien, who serves as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore while waiting for his successor to be named.

He has been “a vocal and passionate advocate in the public square, and a highly regarded champion of the poor, the unborn, the immigrant, the prisoner on death row, the importance of marriage and the family, and the rights of students in our Catholic schools,” Russell said in a Jan. 6 statement. “At the same time, he has also strongly supported efforts to assist and encourage the church’s pastors and other leaders, and all Catholics in Maryland, to exercise their rights and responsibilities as faithful citizens.”