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By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday (Oct. 17) said he will elevate 23 men, including two Americans, to the highest ranks of the Roman Catholic hierarchy when he makes them cardinals at a ceremony next month in Rome.
Eighteen of the newest cardinals will be under the age of 80, and thus eligible to vote for the next pope.
They include Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo, 58, of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop John P. Foley, 71, a longtime Vatican official from Philadelphia who currently serves as Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
While Foley’s appointment was long expected, DiNardo’s came as a surprise to many. The selection seems to reflect the rising importance of the southwestern United States, with its growing population of largely Hispanic Catholics.
“There’s been talk for years about a cardinal from the Sun Belt, but everyone expected San Antonio or New Orleans, because those are much older (archdioceses),” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. “I guess the Vatican chose to go with population size.”
With 1.3 million Catholics, Galveston-Houston is the largest archdiocese in the Sun Belt and the 10th largest in the American church.
“This is … a unique and historic honor for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, indeed for the Catholic Church in that region of our country,” said the Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, president of the Catholic University of America.
The list of new cardinals is also notable for the absence of Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, 66, who had been widely predicted to receive a red hat. The reason, Reese suggests, may have been to avoid two cardinal electors from the same diocese. Wuerl’s predecessor, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, is only 77.
The new appointments will bring the total number of American cardinal electors to a historic high of 13, more than 10 percent of the electoral college. Four other U.S. cardinals are over the age of 80.
In addition to the two Americans, the newest cardinal electors include five Italians, two Spaniards, two Africans, two Latin Americans, a Frenchman, an Irishman, a Pole, a German and an Indian.
Benedict also named five new cardinals over the age of 80, who will not be eligible to vote in papal elections. They include two Italians, a Spaniard, an Argentine and an Iraqi — the archbishop of Baghdad, Emmanuel III Delly.
The pope said he had intended to confer the same honor on a Polish bishop, Ignacy Jez of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, who “yesterday suddenly passed away” at the age of 93.
In his announcement, which he made at the conclusion of his regular Wednesday audience at the Vatican, Benedict noted that his appointment of 18 cardinal electors will raise the total number of those eligible to vote for pope to 121, just over the limit of 120 established by Pope Paul VI.
The new cardinals will receive their titles, red hats and rings of office at a ceremony, called a consistory, on Nov. 24.
The other American cardinals under the age of 80 include: Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, Edward Egan of New York, Francis George of Chicago, Adam Maida of Detroit, Sean O’Malley of Boston and Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.
In addition, three U.S. cardinal serving in Rome — Bernard Law, formerly of Boston; William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and William Stafford of the Apostolic Penitentiary — are eligible to vote.
McCarrick, of Washington, and William Keeler, 76, the archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, retain their votes until they turn 80.
Retired U.S. cardinals include Edmund Szoka (Detroit), William Baum (Washington), Anthony Bevilacqua (Philadelphia) and Avery Dulles, a theologian at Fordham University in New York.
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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