Rome, Italy, Feb 20, 2012 / 11:44 am America/Denver (CNA).
Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien says he will faithfully serve Pope Benedict XVI with his “whole heart.” The emeritus Archbishop of Baltimore made his promise as he knelt to receive his red biretta and cardinal’s ring from the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica on Feb. 18.
“I said to the Pope, ‘I want to serve you as best I can, with my whole heart, and that with the grace that God gives me I will seek to serve you with my whole heart,’” he told journalists at a press conference moments after the consistory.
“So I want the grace and I want those prayers that will prompt that grace from the Good Lord, I hope.”
Cardinal O’Brien said he was “humbled and overwhelmed” by the ceremony, which he described as “Very impressive. Very simple, I think, and very solemn.”
The 72-year-old New Yorker is one of 22 new cardinals that were created this weekend by Pope Benedict. Their role is to assist and advise the Pope in the governance of the Church and, when the current Pope passes away, to elect the next pontiff.
“One hopes that it won’t happen too soon,” said Cardinal O’Brien, who pointed out that he “may precede the Pope to that gate of Heaven.” If he is alive when it comes time for a new Pope, the election “will certainly be a weighty responsibility” that will “always be in the back of one’s mind.”
Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal O’Brien as the Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem in Aug. 2011. The order supports the Church in the Holy Land, particularly the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, through prayer and good works. The new job requires Cardinal O’Brien to permanently move to Rome, but he will not do that until his successor as Archbishop of Baltimore is installed, he said.
He told the media is particularly looking forward to the upcoming Year of Faith that will begin Oct. 2012. Cardinal O’Brien believes it will “be celebrated on every level of the Church,” and will involve “not just prayer but study and good works.”