This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz
That’s the surprising distinction that Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ann Rodgers explores:
The City of Champions can claim a new American title: No. 1 in producing cardinals for the Catholic Church.
With the expected elevation of Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., four living cardinals will have grown up in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl is also the fourth former bishop of Pittsburgh to receive the red hat. No other U.S. diocese has four living members of the College of Cardinals, said Rocco Palmo, an ecclesiastical analyst who blogs at Whispers in the Loggia.
After the Nov. 20 ceremony, three of the 13 Americans eligible to vote for the next pope will be Pittsburghers.
“It just seems that the ethos of Pittsburgh is something that [Pope] Benedict sees as a template for effective leadership in the church,” Mr. Palmo said.
Cardinals advise the pope, and those under 80 vote in papal elections. With 20 new electors, there will be 121 eligible to vote.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl, who is from Mount Washington, was bishop here from 1988 to 2006. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston grew up in Castle Shannon and was a priest here; Cardinal Adam Maida, the retired archbishop of Detroit, is a native of East Vandergrift and was a parish priest and canon lawyer here; Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston attended first through sixth grades at St. Gabriel in Whitehall and spent eight years at the former St. Fidelis Capuchin seminary in Butler County.
Former Pittsburgh bishops who became cardinals were Bishop John Dearden (1950-1958), who became archbishop of Detroit; Bishop John Wright (1959-1969), who later worked at the Vatican; and Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua (1983-1988), the retired archbishop of Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh has a large pool of future talent. Another six of its priests are diocesan bishops: Bishop Paul Bradley of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska; Bishop Bernard Hebda of Gaylord, Mich.; Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I; and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh.
“It’s in the water,” quipped the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center and author of several books on the U.S. hierarchy.
He believes that Pittsburgh’s flight of cardinals is actually due to savvy bishops who sent talented priests to work at the Vatican.
“A lot of these guys worked in Rome as priests, where they came to the attention of the leadership in the Vatican. They make friends. They see that they’re hard workers, see that they’re loyal, see that they have the Romanita [finesse] necessary for this kind of leadership. So they are trusted, and they get promoted to bishop and archbishop and to positions where they can become cardinal,” he said.
“Bishops who are willing to let good men go over to Rome to work are well-liked in the Vatican.”