He’s still Archbishop Dolan to you

It’s official: Archbishop Dolan will have to wait.

Pope Benedict this morning named 22 new cardinals, including the two Americans who were considered to be favorites: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

Dolan is on the outside looking in because Cardinal Egan is only 78 and is eligible to vote for a pope until he turns 80. The Vatican does not like to have two cardinals from the same diocese voting in a conclave.

Wuerl has been archbishop of D.C. since 2006, but had to wait for his red hat because his predecessor, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, didn’t turn 80 until July of this year.

Dolan should be a sure thing to see red in the next cardinal class, probably in two or three years.

He’s only 60, so he should have plenty of time to wear his eventual red vestments.

I didn’t see any predictions that Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore, a New Yorker with Westchester roots, would get a red hat. He’s already 71, but his predecessor, retired Cardinal William Keeler, will turn 80 next March.

You would think that O’Brien could have been slipped into this class. But some think that the archbishop of Baltimore may no longer be an automatic cardinal, with the country’s Catholic base redistributing itself, largely to the Southwest.

Anyway, Cardinal Egan released the following statement this morning:


It was with the greatest of pleasure that I learned today that His Excellency, The Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and His Excellency, The Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, are to be raised to the dignity of the Cardinalate by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  I have known Archbishop Wuerl since his seminary days when I was serving on the faculty of the Pontifical North American College.  He was an outstanding seminarian and has proved to be a most zealous and dedicated priest, Bishop, and Archbishop.  Archbishop Burke I have also known for many years.  When he was doing his doctoral work in Canon Law in Rome, I was a Judge of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and had many occasions to discuss with him Canon Law and his doctoral dissertation during its preparation.  He is a brilliant canonists and a most devoted Prefect of the Church’s highest tribunal on which I have the honor to serve.  Today I contacted both Archbishop Wuerl and Archbishop Burke to express to each of them my heartfelt congratulations and prayerful best wishes.


The new cardinals will be elevated at a consistory on Nov. 20

A semi-lucid thought

Ah, the morning after.

I’m so exhausted that I don’t know that I can wrap things up in any meaningful way (although that’s going to have to change, since I’m writing a pope wrap-up today for tomorrow’s paper).

44a2e2d14bfb4570b69629c19e17b3f01.jpgThere’s no reason that people should care all that much about what the media went through. But, boy, it was harsh. Waiting for hours — sitting, standing, riding in buses. More than a few people got cranky. I tried to keep my cool. It was nothing personal, I told myself. The powers that be had to keep the pope safe and the media were just in the way.

But we did get to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yankee Stadium and everywhere else. We got our texts of the pope’s homilies and talks (which I, for one, really needed. When I really, really tried to listen to the pope talk at St. Joseph’s Church, I simply couldn’t understand him).

So what did I take from the whole thing?

Yes, it was significant that Benedict spoke so often about the sex-abuse crisis. He clearly wanted to show that it had hurt him personally, but should he have said more about how and why it happened? Just a bit?

Yes, he challenged America’s Catholics to enjoy their nation’s freedoms and to fully engage its politics and culture without giving in to religious assimilation and the temptations of relativism. (I have to say, I’m kind of proud of the article I did a few weeks back about Benedict’s fear of relativism. This turned out to be one of the main themes of his trip.)

Yes, B16 did show some warmth and personality, particularly at the seminary. He’ll never be a great orator, but he won the people over, no doubt.

But the main thing I take away from the papal extravaganza is this: it’s about the office, not the man.

When I covered JPII a few times, I saw tens of thousands reaching for him, crying for him, and assumed that they were drawn to the man in white, the Polish fellow with the round face and undeniable charisma. And they were, to a degree.

But here comes Benedict. Very different personality. Very different style. German. Shy. Bookish. And the people reach out in the same way, cry for him in the same way.

The only conclusion that I can draw is that it’s about the papacy, not the pope. For Catholics, it’s about the man they believe to be the vicar of Christ, the successor to Peter — no matter who he is. (And for everyone else, it’s about the man who represents, spiritually, 1 out of every 6 people in the world.)

If someone else had been elected in 2005, the same crowds would have been out there. People still would have lined up for hours for a glimpse of the popemobile. People still would have called out “Papa! Papa!” but for a different Papa. There still would have been 25,000 kids at Dunwoodie, talking about how it was a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-to-see-the-pope.”

I’m not knocking Benedict, mind you. He got the job done and deserves a nice rest. But I’m sure that he would be the first one to say that it’s all about the papacy and not Joseph Ratzinger.

Looking ahead for a moment…

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives at JFK tomorrow morning, he’ll be greeted by Cardinal Egan and Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn.

You have to figure that Egan will share much of the papal spotlight for the next few days.

images.jpegSo I have to mention a report on Kreuz.net, which I understand to be a “traditionalist” Catholic website in Europe. The one paragraph report in German (which someone translated for me) says that Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will soon become the next archbishop of New York.

Levada’s name (that’s him) has been circulating for some time among those trying to figure out who may replace Egan.

‘I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles’

The pope’s homily, which he delivered just a while ago:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19). With these, the first words of the Risen Lord to his disciples, I greet all of you in the joy of this Easter season. Before all else, I thank God for the blessing of being in your midst. I am particularly grateful to Archbishop Wuerl for his kind words of welcome.

tjndc5-5jmn6qe7×8gh4evkdm5_layout.jpgOur Mass today brings the Church in the United States back to its roots in nearby Maryland, and commemorates the bicentennial of the first chapter of its remarkable growth – the division by my predecessor, Pope Pius VII, of the original Diocese of Baltimore and the establishment of the Dioceses of Boston, Bardstown (now Louisville), New York and Philadelphia. Two hundred years later, the Church in America can rightfully praise the accomplishment of past generations in bringing together widely differing immigrant groups within the unity of the Catholic faith and in a common commitment to the spread of the Gospel. At the same time, conscious of its rich diversity, the Catholic community in this country has come to appreciate ever more fully the importance of each individual and group offering its own particular gifts to the whole. The Church in the United States is now called to look to the future, firmly grounded in the faith passed on by previous generations, and ready to meet new challenges – challenges no less demanding than those faced by your forebears – with the hope born of God’s love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5).

In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32). I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead (cf. Acts 2:14ff.). I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country. As we have heard throughout this Easter season, the Church was born of the Spirit’s gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every race, language and people (cf. Rev 5:9) the good news of our reconciliation with God in Christ. Continue reading

And the day begins…

Papal odds and ends:

Watching the enormous procession for the papal Mass, I can’t help thinking how mysterious the whole thing must be to the great numbers of evangelical Christians across this nation.

tjndc5-5jmmp2b6j3nakrkzdm5_layout1.jpgThe media have, of course, reported extensively in recent years on the cultural influence of evangelicals. But evangelicals tend to be forgotten when the Roman Catholic Church is in the spotlight. You have to figure, though, that many evangelicals are watching the papal events this week and trying to figure out who everyone is.

For those who accept a priesthood of all believers and place little emphasis on liturgy, the Catholic hierarchy and Mass present a radically different conception of what Christianity is and means. This is obvious, but worth noting, I think.

This will be a full day for the pontiff. He’ll get several hours to rest after the baseball stadium Mass in DC.

At 4:45 p.m., he will give a much anticipated address to Catholic educators. Will he call for Catholic colleges and universities to foster a great Catholic identity? Will he say that diocesan education officials are getting the job done in preparing young Catholics for a lifetime of faith?

At 6:15 p.m, the pope will host a gathering of leaders of non-Christian faiths. Will he talk about the Catholic Church’s new dialogue with Muslims?

Immediately after the interreligious gathering, the pope will have a quick meeting with Jewish leaders. Will he address the Latin Good Friday liturgy and its prayer for the conversion of the Jews?

Anyway, Archbishop Wuerl just said: “Holy Father, welcome to Washington.” The baseball stadium is rocking…

Much food for thought in B16’s talk

Some thoughts on the pope’s address to his bishops:

  • On the one hand, to say that the sex-abuse scandal was sometimes “very badly handled” by the bishops is a pretty direct comment from the pope. On the other hand, it’s also terribly obvious. The pope talked about how society’s moral underpinnings are rotting, contributing to social problems like sexual abuse. But he did not say what contributed to the Catholic hierarchy’s misdeeds.
  • When Benedict talked about the influence of affluence and materialism, he could have been addressing the suburbs. He probably doesn’t even know that suburban kids go to high school in sports cars. “People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives,” he said.
  • Asking about the challenge of secularism, the pope said: “I believe that the Church in America, at this point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth.” This comment made me think that Benedict really does have a handle on what’ s going on in this country. It also made me wonder what he might say at Saturday’s youth rally in Yonkers. What “engaging and imaginative way” will he use to capture the attention of Catholic youth?
  • The pope’s answer to a question about the decline in vocations to the priesthood must have made some New Yorkers wince. The Archdiocese of NY is ranked near the bottom of all dioceses in the U.S. in terms of the percentage of Catholics who become priests. The pope said: “Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church.”
  • The speech, overall, was direct, clear and provocative. The more of this pope’s words that I read and hear, the less I am surprised.

‘…a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator’

And here are the pope’s remarks at the White House:


Mr. President,
Thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country’s first Diocese – Baltimore – to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans. I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society. America’s Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.

From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America’s Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society.

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.

The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society. Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.

For well over a century, the United States of America has played an important role in the international community. On Friday, God willing, I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization, where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations of all the world’s peoples. On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity – as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God’s bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the greater human family will continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish – a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.

Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!

Back with my press pass

Be glad you’re not waiting for media credentials to see the pope.

I just got back from several hours on line and, well, there are more than a few glitches.

But I’m back. I passed by St. Joseph’s Seminary while on the Westchester Cross County Parkway (which will be closed Saturday, by the way) and saw the great stage that is being constructed for Saturday’s youth rally. It should be something.

Here is the joint statement from the White House and Holy See on this morning’s meeting between the president and the pope:


His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush met today in the Oval Office of the White House.

President Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the Holy Father, wished him a happy birthday, and thanked him for the spiritual and moral guidance, which he offers to the whole human family. The President wished the Pope every success in his Apostolic Journey and in his address at the United Nations, and expressed appreciation for the Pope’s upcoming visit to “Ground Zero” in New York.

During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the United States of America, including moral and religious considerations to which both parties are committed: the respect of the dignity of the human person; the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa. In regard to the latter, the Holy Father welcomed the United States’ substantial financial contributions in this area. The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents. They further touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights.

The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region. The Holy Father and the President expressed hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the region.

The Holy Father and the President also considered the situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants, and the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane treatment and the well being of their families.

Someone’s taking his vitamins

tjndc5-5jlqu199sqg1as84e3tn_layout.jpgI wonder if my initial impression is shared by others.

Boy, the pope looks good for a fellow who is turning 81 tomorrow. He practically skipped down the stairs from the plane — and we’re talking about after a long flight.

I’m half his age, and when I take a transatlantic flight, I can hardly straighten my back for an hour afterward.

B16 looks strong and fit.

He’ll have to be to keep up with his schedule for the next week…