VATICAN CITY — 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.
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.