Decision Came Just Before Pope's Retirement

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn church had something special to celebrate at mass Sunday morning, courtesy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Before he left the papacy, Benedict elevated the Church of St. Joseph, at 856 Pacific St. in Prospect Heights, to a cathedral.

The pope emeritus informed parish leaders of his decision shortly after announcing his resignation. But parishioners did not hear of the honor until this week.

“Today, this church is in the center of a great redevelopment in this section of Brooklyn, just a block away we have the Barclays arena,” said Msgr. Kieran Harrington, administrator at St. Joseph, “and this will be, after the housing is constructed, one of the most densely populated areas of the City of New York.”

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio submitted a petition for the elevation of the church last year.

Then-New York Archbishop John Hughes established the Church of St. Joseph in 1850, to serve the burgeoning immigrant population of the area. Bishop DiMarzio is pastor of the cathedral.

With the elevation, St. Joseph is now a co-cathedral for the diocese of Brooklyn, which includes both Brooklyn itself and Queens. St. James Cathedral Basilica in downtown Brooklyn had been the only cathedral in the diocese since it was founded in 1853.

St. Joseph is one of the largest churches in the diocese. It can accommodate 1,500 people.

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