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Pope Benedict XVI reshaped the College of Cardinals Friday by elevating 22 prelates, including the head of the Catholic bishops in the USA.
Pope Benedict XVI has included New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and former Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien among the 22 new cardinals to be welcomed at a Mass at St. Peter’s next month.
Dolan told the New York Post that 61, said he learned of the pope’s decision on Thursday from the Vatican’s ambassador in Washington.
“I called mom last night. She said, ‘It’s about time,’” Dolan said after celebrating Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
"I am honored, humbled, and grateful," Dolan said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "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."
According to the Washington Post, popes have traditionally wanted to ensure New York is represented in the College of Cardinals for any future papal election.
Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was preceded by retired Cardinal Edward Egan, who loses his vote in a papal conclave when he turns 80 in April, the paper reported.
O’Brien, 72, meantime, a Bronx native and Yankees supporter who served as as a military chaplain in Vietnam, was in 1997 named archbishop for the military services and in 2007 installed as archbishop of Baltimore, the Times reported.
He is currently also pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, meaning he is "the pope’s representative to Catholics in the Holy Land."
Cardinals are the pope's key advisers and elect his successor.
According to the Washington Post:
The larger story of Friday’s appointments — and an indication of how the next conclave may play out — is that the German pope continued his pattern of stacking the College of Cardinals with Europeans (mainly Italians) and with leaders of the Roman curia, the papal bureaucracy whose officials are often considered more conservative than prelates in dioceses around the world.
By contrast, Benedict’s predecessor, notably the late John Paul II, tried to to “internationalize” the College of Cardinals and make it more representative of the global church, the paper reported.
Figures show Church numbers growing in places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America but declining in Europe. Numbers are reportedly stable in North America, although in New York at least, Catholics are increasingly fractured on social issues, according to the WSJ.