.- You donât have to be named OâBrien to become a cardinal, but it seems to help. Just after Cardinal Edwin OâBrien became a member of the College of Cardinals on Feb. 18, he was welcomed by a man with the same last name, Cardinal Keith OâBrien from Scotland.
âOâBriens are descendents of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, and Iâm sure Edwin, like me, can trace his ancestry directly back to him.
âSo it is only fitting that the two of us should be Princes of the Church at this present time,â laughed the Scottish Cardinal OâBrien.
The American Cardinal OâBrien was also amused that their family name is currently the only one to appear twice in the 213-member list of the Churchâs Sacred College of Cardinals.
âI know there have been a lot of OâBrien bishops, but I doubt there have ever been two Cardinal OâBriens. Itâs a great distinction, and I thought of that pretty soon after I was appointed,â the American cardinal told CNA.
The two men met at the Rome headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
Cardinal Edwin OâBrien was appointed their Pro-Grand Master by Pope Benedict in Aug. 2011. The order supports the Church in the Holy Land, particularly the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, through prayer and good works.
Coincidentally, Cardinal Keith OâBrien is also a member of the order.
He explained to CNA that their next Scottish investiture is later this year and will include a pilgrimage to the historic island of Iona, the launching pad from which St. Columba re-evangelized much of Europe in the 6th century.
âGiven Americansâ love of history and heritage, I do hope that Cardinal OâBrien, or âCardinal Edwinâ as we will call him to distinguish between us, will be able to join us for that.â
Cardinal Edwin OâBrien said he didnât know much about his Scottish counterpart, although he had read enough to know âhe is a very strong leaderâ among the bishops of the British Isles in âspeaking up for the Church.â
In return, the Scottish cardinal said he also knew âa littleâ of his fellow cardinalâs work in Baltimore, and was âdelightedâ to have him as a fellow member of the Sacred College where both, being under the age of 80, are eligible to vote for the next Pope.
âI just hope that when thereâs a conclave for a new Pope that they get the initials right and donât mix us up in any way at all, if we are ever considered to be in the running,â joked Cardinal Keith OâBrien.