Texan Cardinal

New American cardinal reflects on red hat


The Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo was officially raised to the cardinalate at a Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica Saturday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

 He discussed the honor at a news conference after the Mass.

"It is a distinctive honor, not just for Texas, but the whole South of the United States, and certainly for Houston," the new cardinal said. "We are proud of it, that the first cardinal ever in the South has been named. It is [an] honor, [a] responsibility and pretty humbling for this kid from Pittsburgh."

Cardinal DiNardo, originally from Pittsburgh, was ordained a priest there.  He spent six years working at the Vatican in the Congregation for Bishops, and in 1997 was named bishop of Sioux City, Iowa.  He was appointed archbishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

During the Mass for the 23 new cardinals, Cardinal DiNardo, 58, climbed the white marble steps to the altar of Saint Peter's Basilica.  Kneeling before Pope Benedict XVI, he was given a red skullcap called a zucchetto.  Pope Benedict also placed a three-pointed biretta, colloquially called a "red hat," on Cardinal DiNardo's head. 

The cardinal later described the experience from his perspective, saying "I wanted to be very composed in terms of the sacred moment, but I have to admit at the very moment he put it on, my zucchetto was falling off," Cardinal DiNardo said after the Mass. "I had to push it back up. But once I stood up, he had a great smile, and he said, 'Peace of the Lord be with you.' And his smile and his encouragement were a great moment for me."

When the Pope called Archbishop DiNardo's name, a crowd of Texans cheered and applauded.  More than 500 travelers from the Houston area were present.

"I think Houston had the biggest" cheer, said Greg Friend of Spring, Texas, who was in the basilica for the first time with his wife, Beth. "I'm pretty sure we were the loudest."

At the news conference after the Mass Cardinal DiNardo discussed the state of the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston and his experience there. Describing the area's cultural diversity as "happy chaos," he said that celebrating the rich diversity of his flock was one challenge facing the archdiocese.

Cardinal DiNardo saw the red hat as a symbol unifying that diversity, saying "the unity of the faith with the Holy Father is also extremely crucial if you are going to keep all this working."

At a reception after the news conference, the cardinal spent nearly two hours greeting Houston-area faithful, shaking hands, exchanging hugs, and posing for photos.

One group of Spanish speaking Texans periodically burst into cheers as they progressed through the reception line.  "Se ve, se siente, DiNardo está presente," they chanted.  This translates to "You see it, you feel it, DiNardo is present."

As a cardinal, DiNardo will serve as an advisor to the Pope and a papal elector in an election choosing the successor to Pope Benedict.  He is also assigned a parish in Rome to be its titular head.  The cardinal said he would not take immediate possession of his titular church, St. Eusebius.

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