By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Pope Benedict XVI announced the creation of 23 new cardinals today, including 2 Americans. The crop of new Princes of the Church includes 18 electors, meaning cardinals under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote for the next pope.
One of those Americans, longtime Vatican veteran John Foley, was widely tipped for the honor, but the other, Archbishop Daniel Nicholas DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, was a surprise. Most experts believed the honor would go instead to Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
DiNardo, born in Steubenville, Ohio, and a priest of the Pittsburgh diocese, is also a veteran of the Roman scene, having served in the Congregation for Bishops from 1984 until 1990. He worked there for a year under the future Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who at the time was the Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.
Aside from DiNardo’s personal biography, the red hat is also considered a signal of the shifting Catholic population in the United States, away from its traditional center on the East Coast toward the Southwest.
The other major surprise is that the new red hat in Ireland went to Archbishop Seán B. Brady of Armagh, instead of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
A consistory, meaning the ceremony in which these nominees will formally become members of the College of Cardinals, is scheduled to take place in Rome on Nov. 24.
The appointments bring the total number of American cardinals to 17, and the number of cardinal-electors to 13, both representing the second highest totals in the church after Italy.
Despite the rapid shift of Catholic population to Africa, Asia and Latin America, where two-thirds of all Catholics today live, only five of the new cardinal-electors come from the global South: a Brazilian, a Mexican, an Indian, a Kenyan, and the archbishop of Dakar in Senegal. Today’s appointments actually strengthened the European dominance in the College of Cardinals. Prior to the announcement, 51 of the 104 cardinal-electors were Europeans, or 51 percent; 11 of the 18 cardinal-electors named today are Europeans, representing 61 percent.
Foley, 72, is the only man ordained both the priesthood and to the episcopacy by the late Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia. He has waited unusually long for the honor. Appointed to head the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 1984, Foley was mentioned as a possible cardinal in seven straight consistories under Pope John Paul II as well as the first under Benedict XVI in March 2006.
Foley has been a fixture of church communications for the last four decades. His voice is familiar to English-speaking Catholics around the world as the televisions commentator of the pope’s public liturgies, including his Masses for Christmas and Easter.
Foley stepped down last June, when the pope appointed him to the largely honorary post of Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Benedict XVI also announced today that he had intended to name the oldest Polish bishop, Ignacy Ludwik Jez, as an “honorary” cardinal over the age of 80. Jez, who was 93, had spent three years in the Dachau concentration camp. Yesterday, however, Jez collapsed in Rome during a pilgrimage and died in an ambulance en route to the Gemelli Hospital.