NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be elevated to cardinal on Saturday, but before the big ceremony, Dolan was the keynote speaker to the College of Cardinals on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI led the Cardinals in prayer, with Archbishop Dolan joining the Pontiff at the front of the hall, just to his right in a position of honor.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports
Apologizing for his rusty Italian, Dolan peppered his remarks with his trademark good humor. He told the cardinals that evangelizing in today’s world required its missionaries to live and spread the faith with love, joy and “sorry to bring it up, but blood.”
He noted how cardinals wear scarlet cassocks to symbolize their willingness to shed blood as martyrs for the faith and make a pledge during the consistory to die as martyrs, if necessary.
“Holy Father, can you omit the ‘shedding of your blood’ when you present me with the biretta?” Dolan asked the pope. “Of course not! We are but ‘scarlet audio-visual aids’ for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus.”
While the subject matter was deadly serious, Dolan’s delivery lightened the mood of the otherwise somber Vatican. The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, took pains to tell journalists how appreciative the cardinals were of Dolan’s “lively” remarks.
WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb With Reaction From Cardinal Egan In Vatican City
Edward Cardinal Egan pinch hit, as he put it, at a St. Peter’s Basilica Mass that Cardinal-designate Dolan was scheduled to celebrate after all the Cardinals-to-be were called to a meeting with the pope.
Along with Egan, dozens of New York priests and hundreds of pilgrims celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair of the first Pope, St. Peter.
Marion Imperatore of Dutchess County spoke to CBS 2′s Tony Aiello about the experience.
“It’s thrilling, just thrilling. This is the seat of Christianity!” she said.
“He missed his own Mass! But he was here in spirit, definitely here in spirit,” added pilgrim Lanette Turicchi.
Egan said that Dolan’s speech to the College of Cardinals and the pope about the new evangelization went very well.
“Oh, his talk was very very fine. He spoke in Italian and I think you know you get a little rusty when you’re away for a while, eh? But he did a very very good job and he had a couple of little jokes in there, you know,” said Egan.
Cardinal Egan said he was watching the Pope during the talk and in Egan’s words “I can assure you he enjoyed it thoroughly.”
The cardinal-designate has been making the rounds while in Italy. Wearing an NYPD cap, he greeted pilgrims Thursday at the famed restaurant “Cecilia Matella.”
“He is just accessible all the time. We got back to our hotel last night after Mass and he was there,” said Putnam County resident Diane Sclafani.
Back here at home, crews at St. Patrick’s Cathedral are getting ready for Dolan’s return.
The bishop’s throne, located on the altar, is being changed from green to red, the cardinal’s colors. The carpet surrounding it also will be red.
Dolan is one of 22 men who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal on Saturday. Cardinals are the pope’s top advisers. The elite group of churchmen will eventually elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
As of Saturday, Italy will have 30 cardinals out of the 125 under age 80. Only the United States comes close with 12, including the two new red hats going to Dolan and Cardinal-designate Edwin O’Brien, the former archbishop of Baltimore and native of the Bronx who is now grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which raises money for the church in the Holy Land.
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