Wednesday, October 20, 2010
By Timothy McNulty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., well known as the former bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, has been selected by Pope Benedict XVI to join the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl, 69, will serve as an advisor to the Pope and will be eligible to vote in a Papal election until his 80th birthday. A consistory to formally elevate the new Cardinals will be held Nov. 20 at the Vatican. A Mass with the Pope will be held the following day.
"This truly is an honor for the Archdiocese of Washington, the Church in the nation's capital, and for all of the clergy, religious and parishioners of this local Church who every day live out their faith in commitment and deep love for Christ," Cardinal-designate Wuerl said. "I am humbled by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's trust in me as shepherd of this flock and pledge to him my renewed fidelity, affection and loyalty."
Cardinal-designate Wuerl became the leader of the Archdiocese of Washington on June 22, 2006, after 18 years as the Bishop of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh native was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 17, 1966, and ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 6, 1986 in Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome.
In Pittsburgh today, his successor, Bishop David Zubik, said "Cardinal-designate Wuerl remains dear to our hearts. Today as our Holy Father honors him, he honors also our priests, religious and laity."
Bishop Zubik said he spoke to Archbishop Wuerl and congratulated him shortly after 6 a.m. today. He will travel to Rome for the Nov. 20-21 ceremonies.
The bishop noted it was the third time a Pittsburgh-native priest was named a Cardinal, following Adam Maida and Daniel DiNardo. Other former Pittsburgh bishops elevated to the College of Cardinals included John Dearden, John Wright and Anthony Bevilacqua.
"Cardinal-designate Wuerl's incredible gifts are well known, far beyond the region of southwestern Pennsylvania," Bishop Zubik said. "Everywhere he has served, the Church has benefitted enormously by his presence," the bishop said.
The Rome festivities will begin with a simple prayer ceremony where the cardinals receive their red hats, the bishop said, and will be followed the next day with a Mass where the Pope places rings on the fingers of the new cardinals.
Though named a cardinal, he will continue serving as Archbishop of Washington. His new duties will require more trips to Rome and perhaps performing special projects for the Pope.
Though his name has long been mentioned as a cardinal candidate, his onetime mentor was still shocked, Bishop Zubik said.
"As much as people would speculate, this is a shock to know that it actually did happen. When you think about the importance of the position of being a cardinal in the church --- to be one of the closest advisors of the Pope, and then also because of what is recognized by the public as being the most important part of a cardinal's life, which is to elect a new Pope when a Pope dies -- that's really something, when you consider it's only a little more than 120 who are called to that important role in the Church."