.- Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo, head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is one of the two Americans Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to be elevated to the cardinalate, and the first Texan prince of the Church.
Referring to the decision, at a news conference Wednesday Cardinal-designate DiNardo said "It says something about Texas and how wonderful Texas is in the terms of the growth of our Catholic faith." He called the choice "very humbling and surprising" and offered his full loyalty and obedience to the Pope.
The cardinal-designate and other observers saw his elevation as recognition of the numerical growth of Catholicism in the southern United States. 1.3 million Catholics live in the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, while altogether there are 6.5 million Catholics in Texas. He credited his elevation to the work of all the previous bishops, priests, and vowed religious of his diocese. He especially thanked his predecessor, retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.
The 58 year-old cardinal-designate was ordained a priest in his hometown of Pittsburgh and spent six years working at the Vatican in the Congregation for Bishops. In 1997 he was named bishop of Sioux City, Iowa where he shepherded 100,000 Catholics and, in his own words, "fifteen thousand square miles of corn fields." He was appointed archbishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
"This is, at the same time, a unique and historic honor for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, indeed for the Catholic Church in that region of our country," Fr. David M. O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America told Reuters. The cardinal-to-be is a university alumnus and a trustee.
Cardinal-designate DiNardo was among the 23 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI. He is among the eighteen cardinals-designate eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pontiff. Pope Benedict said he would make the 23 men “princes of the Church” in a ceremony at the Vatican to be held November 24.