VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) – Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been elevated to cardinal.
“It’s a great day for all of New York,” said a jubilant Dolan at the North American College in Rome following Saturday’s ceremony at the Vatican. “This is the hat I want to put on the Empire State Building and the home plate at Yankee stadium and the Statue of Liberty because it’s for all of New York, it’s not for me.”
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Dolan was one of 22 new cardinals elevated by Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday.
Approaching the most solemn honor of his life, Dolan’s essential nature could not be contained. He waved, gave thumbs up and smiled broadly as he greeted fellow priests and bishops of the Catholic church.
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Before taking his seat, he looked around the magnificent basilica and then spotted some of his family members, giving them an enthusiastic wave.
Benedict was wheeled into St. Peter’s Basilica aboard the moving platform he has been using for several months to spare him the long walk down the center aisle. Benedict, who turns 85 in April, spoke in a strong voice as he told the cardinals they will be called upon to advise him on the problems facing the church.
In remarks at the start of the service, Benedict recalled that the red color of the three-pointed hat, or biretta, and the scarlet cassock that cardinals wear symbolizes the blood that cardinals must be willing to shed to remain faithful to the church.
“The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters even unto shedding their blood, if necessary,” Benedict said.
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Dolan smiled as he approached the pope to receive his skullcap, biretta and ring, a day after he got a heartfelt papal thumbs-up for his animated speech to cardinals about spreading the faith.
Benedict termed Dolan’s remarks Friday “enthusiastic, joyful and profound,” according to a Vatican summary of the closed-door meeting.
At the end of his remarks, Benedict said: “And pray for me, that I may continually offer to the people of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy church with a firm and humble hand.”
Dolan’s sister-in-law Beth pumped her fist in the air as the he thanked the pontiff for the high honor.
Following the ceremony, Dolan spoke with reporters about his moment with pope during the ceremony.
“He thanked me again for yesterday which meant a lot,” Dolan said. “He did have a little trouble getting the ring on my finger which was a little embarrassing.”
But the newly appointed cardinal said he hasn’t forgotten the meaning behind the title.
“It’s all about humility and it’s all about service and love and staying close to God and his people,” he said. “It’s not about power and prestige.”
As of Saturday, Italy will have 30 cardinals out of the 125 under age 80. Only the United States comes close with 12, including Dolan and Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, the former archbishop of Baltimore who is now grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which raises money for the church in the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, the staff at the seat of the New York Archdiocese has been hard at work revamping the cathedral to reflect the Cardinal’s new title.
Workers spent Friday changing the color of the Bishop’s throne, which sits on the altar, as well as the color of carpeting around the throne itself from green to red. Red reflects the Cardinal’s new status.
Also, Cardinal Dolan’s new coat of arms was revealed. The galero, which is the hat at the top, changes from green to red.
Another row of tassels has been added to either side, again a reflection of his new title.
The cathedral’s master of ceremonies Joseph Tyrrell explained the significance of the changes.
“Red is used liturgically for Catholics for feasts of martyrs and for the Holy Spirit. So if you’re becoming a cardinal, you’re getting ready to shed your blood,” he said.
But before Dolan returns home, he’ll have several more events to attend in Rome.
After a reception at Pontifical North American College, the new cardinals will receive family and friends at the Vatican.
Sunday at St Peter’s, there will be a papal Mass of thanksgiving and a papal blessing.
Then on Monday, Cardinal Dolan will be made available to the media. He’ll celebrate Mass and then the party will have a farewell dinner.
Finally on Tuesday, Dolan and company will fly back to New York City.
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