Image: Timothy Dolan
Lucas Jackson  /  AP
In this 2009 photo Archbishop Timothy Dolan takes part in a  service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Pope Benedict XVI on Friday 2012 named Dolan as one of 22 new cardinals he will elevate them in a ceremony on Feb. 18.
NBC News and news services
updated 1/6/2012 11:51:22 AM ET 2012-01-06T16:51:22

A "humbled" Archbishop Timothy Dolan said on Friday his elevation to cardinal by Pope Benedict is more of an honor for New York than for himself.

One of 22 newly named cardinals from around the world, Dolan was the only one representing an Archdiocese in the United States. One other American, the former archbishop of Baltimore, Edwin O'Brien, who heads the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was also promoted.

Dolan's elevation means that New York will have a cardinal for the first time since 2009, when Edward Cardinal Egan stepped down. He would also be eligible to be one of the secretive conclave of cardinals that will elect a new pope when Benedict XVI dies.

“My major duty is still to be archbishop of New York, so that’s the biggie but there might be a few added responsibilities to the wider church,” a jubilant Dolan said Friday on NBC's TODAY Show, after being congratulated by Matt Lauer and Al Roker. “I would probably be, for instance, appointed to a couple of what they call congregations which would be the Vatican’s version of cabinets.”

The election of a new pope is "the weightiest responsibility" for a cardinal, Dolan said.

“It’s the cardinals of the world under 80 who would enter conclave to elect him,” Dolan said. “God willing I'm not going to have to do that for a while.”

'Humbled and grateful'
Eighteen of the new cardinals including Dolan, 61, are under 80, young enough to be eligible to enter the secret conclave.

"Yes, I'm honored, humbled and grateful. But let's be frank. This is not about Timothy Dolan. This is an honor from the Holy Father to the archdiocese of New York," Dolan told a news conference after morning Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

"It's almost as if Pope Benedict XVI is putting the red hat of the cardinal on the top of the Empire State Building or upon the Statue of Liberty or home plate at Yankee Stadium or on the spires of this great St. Patrick's Cathedral," Dolan said.

The Archdiocese of New York, with some 2.6 million members, has been at the center of heated policy battles within the U.S. Roman Catholic community, particularly in the 1980s and '90s over the church's position on homosexuality and AIDS education.

By being named cardinal, Dolan follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, including Edward Cardinal Egan, John Cardinal O'Connor, Terence Cardinal Cooke and Francis Cardinal Spellman.

Dolan was named archbishop of New York in 2009 after serving as the archbishop of Milwaukee.

'Great joy'
The pope announced the names "with great joy" following an Epiphany Mass that ended the Vatican's main Christmas celebrations. He said they will be formally elevated at a Feb. 18 ceremony in Rome.

The 18 new cardinals under 80 are:

  • Santos Abril y Castello, (Spanish), Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
  • George Alencherry, (Indian), Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church in India
  • Giuseppe Bertello, (Italian), President of the Government of the Vatican City State
  • Giuseppe Bettori, (Italian), Archbishop of Florence
  • João Braz de Aviz, (Brazil), Prefect of the Congregation for Religious
  • Domenico Calcagno, (Italian), President of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See
  • Francesco Coccopalmerio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
  • Thomas Collins, (Canadian), Archbishop of Toronto
  • Timothy Dolan, (United States) Archbishop of New York
  • Dominik Duka, (Czech), Archbishop of Prague
  • Wim Eijk, (Dutch), Archbishop of Utrecht
  • Fernando Filoni, (Italian), Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
  • Antonio Maria Veglio, (Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees
  • Manuel Monteiro de Castro, (Portuguese), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  • Edwin O'Brien, (United States), Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
  • John Tong Hon, (Chinese), Bishop of Hong Kong
  • Giuseppe Versaldi, (Italian), President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  • Thomas Woelki, (German), Archbishop of Berlin

The four new cardinals over 80 are:

  • Karl Becker (German), a priest and professor
  • Prosper Grech, (Maltese), a priest and professor
  • Lucian Muresan (Romania), an archbishop
  • Julien Ries, (Belgian), a monsignor and professor

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Archbishop Dolan elevated to Cardinal

  1. Closed captioning of: Archbishop Dolan elevated to Cardinal

    >> honored to have the archbishop of new york timothy dough lon, also president of the u.s. conference of catholic bishops and he was our guide at the vatican not long ago when i had an audience with the pope. your excellency, happy new year to you.

    >> what a segment from the dietary snacks.

    >> no harm intended i promise you.

    >> before and after.

    >> you come this morning with really wonderful news.

    >> well, thanks. yes, i was today at the vatican pope benedict xvi , announced the epiphany, january 6th is the 12th day after christmas we don't celebrate it this america but he announced he was making new cardinals.

    >> are you allowed to high five a new cardinal?

    >> thank you, al.

    >> you got a phone call ?

    >> i got a phone call yesterday so i only found out 24 hours in advance. archbishop called so i only knew 24 hours ago. i promised you when we were in rome last may that great visit, thanks again, i promised i'd let you guys know so i gave you advanced notice.

    >> archbishop, what will your differences be in duties as you go forward?

    >> my major duty is still the archbishop of new york so that's the biggie but there may be a few added responsibilities to the wider church, the church universal . i would probably be for instance appointed to a couple of what they call congregations, the vatican 's versions of cabinets to the pope. duty wise not much of an increase.

    >> huge responsibility in the cardinal in the event of a election of a new pope takes place you take part.

    >> you're right, that's the weightiest responsibility for the cardinal. when the pope dies, it's the cardinals under 80 who enter conclive to elect him. god willing i'm not going to have to do that in a while. that's the heaviest responsibility a cardinal has.

    >> you'd be spending more time in rome ?

    >> you want to come? let's go.

    >> yes, he's already ready.

    >> i remember the restaurant down the street from the vatican .

    >> so do i. exhibit "a."

    >> will you be there more often than you are now?

    >> probably, because as i mentioned to al the appointment is some congregations on the vatican , their version of cabinet offices. i might have to go a little bit more often. so.

    >> you are called by some the face of the catholic church .

    >> thanks.

    >> in the united states , and this is a terrific honor just for people biographically if you're not as familiar with this man, born in st . louis.

    >> stol st

    >> st . louis, missouri.

    >> fan of the cardinal?

    >> i said the only cardinal i wanted to be was stan muciel.

    >> since you're a fan of the cardinals now you have this brand new honor we'd bestow this upon you.

    >> champions of the world. you saw what someone gave me today a baby cardinal.

    >> how cute is that?

    >> al you want to pass the head?

    >> congratulations.

    >> thank you, matt. happy new year. let's go back to rome .

    >> absolutely.

    >> soon to be card know timothy dolan , thank you. we're back after your local news and a look at your

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