.- This morning, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien as the Archbishop of Baltimore and the acceptance of Cardinal William Keeler’s resignation.
Archbishop O’Brien was previously the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services which has 1.5 million Catholics, two auxiliary bishops and 300 priests in uniform.
At a press conference in Baltimore this morning, he was asked what he saw as the reason for his selection as the new head of the Archdiocese. He responded, “I’ll give you the Pope’s number (laughter)… They talk about seminary experience? I don’t know.”
Prior to his ordination as bishop, Archbishop O’Brien served as Rector at two seminaries, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
On a more serious note, Archbishop O’Brien noted that he looks forward to working with the two seminaries in the archdiocese and that he sees Pastor Dabo Vobis, a post-synodal exhortation from the late Pope John Paul II on priests, as his model.
Asked about the benefits of coming to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, O’Brien responded, “The historic nature of the archdiocese is a great benefit.”
The Archbishop sees his greatest challenges in leading his new flock as, “making known the benefits of our Catholic schools, recruiting young men for the priesthood, and serving the poor.”
Archbishop O’Brien succeeds Cardinal William H. Keeler, who has served as Baltimore’s 14th archbishop since 1989. The replacement of Cardinal Keeler is more than likely due to health reasons, since he underwent brain surgery in June for a non-life threatening condition and appeared visibly weakened at today’s press conference.
When questioned about his priestly background, O’Brien said, “I’m the only priest in family… I would say that it [the inspiration to become a priest] was the example of the Catholic community around me.
Archbishop O’Brien was ordained a priest in 1965 by Francis Cardinal Spellman and a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1996, serving as Archbishop for the Military Services since 1997. During his priesthood, Archbishop O’Brien has served as chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Vietnam.