Washington D.C. archbishop now a cardinal
Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington D.C. was included with 23 other men that Pope Benedict XVI elevated recently to the College of Cardinals, the Catholic Church’s most powerful body, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Wuerl, who became archbishop of Washington D.C. in 2006, was a shoo-in to becoming a cardinal. In 2008 he organized Benedict’s highly successful visit to Washington, The Washington Post said.
Furthermore, former Washington Cardinal Theordore E. McCarrick turned 80–a cardinal must be 79 or younger to vote in papal elections, and usually, only one cardinal is permitted per diocese, The Washington Post reported.
The Washington Post said Wuerl will be the titular head of the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, a popular tourist attraction for its marble statue of Moses, made by Michelangelo.
Wuerl told The Washington Post that becoming a cardinal was “exciting [and] humbling.” He said the three major challenges in the church are secularism, materialism and individualism.
Cardinal Wuerl told The Washington Post he would address these challenges by giving more emphasis to “new evangelization” that was begun by Benedict to “help people reconnect with their faith.”
Wuerl, who shepherded his native diocese of Pittsburgh for 18 years prior to Washington D.C., is known for being very diplomatic and gifted in mediation. Parishioner Kathleen Asdorian, 67 of Silver Spring told The Washington Post that Wuerl would bring stature to the archdiocese adding, “He is a phenomenal catechist, and very bright, a real intellectual.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Wuerl used the same tailor in Rome that he had as a seminarian in the 1960s, Gino Barbiconi. Although Barbiconi retired, he still made Wuerl’s scarlet vestments for consistory, or the ceremony for cardinals.
Barbiconi proudly said, “I did it when he became a priest, I did it when he became a bishop and I’m going to do it when he becomes a cardinal,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Wuerl ordered two sets, one to remain in Rome for many anticipated cardinals’ meetings. A complete set includes two cassocks—a scarlet one for liturgical services, and a formal black one with scarlet trim for meetings with the pope and other important occasions, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
During the consistory, Benedict placed a three-cornered red cardinal’s hat on the Wuerl as he pledged faithfulness to God and Church. The Associated Press said of the 24 new cardinals, Wuerl got the loudest applause from a delegation of 400 people from the U.S.
They included family, friends and Catholics who wanted to support Wuerl. When the crowd clapped appreciatively Wuerl smiled slightly, then bowed before the pope, The Washington Post reported.
Work cut out
The 24 new cardinals have their work cut out for them. In a pre-consistory meeting with the pope the issues discussed included the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse, the recent ordination by the Chinese church of a bishop not chosen by the pope, the hostage-taking and massacre of churchgoers in Iraq, and the newly-created Ordinariate for disaffected Anglicans in England, The Washington Post said.
In a statement, the Vatican said guidelines on the church’s rejoinder to the clergy sex scandal will be disseminated to all bishops’ conferences. They include prevention of clergy sex abuse, education on the protection of children, and improved screening of candidates for the priesthood, The Washington Post said.
The AP said Benedict has handpicked 40 percent of all the cardinals, who share his conservative, traditional thinking, making it likely that the future pope will continue the path set out by Benedict.