Updated 01/06/2012 11:01 PM
Archbishop Dolan Calls News Of Becoming Cardinal "Humbling"
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New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan announced Friday that he will be one of 22 prelates elevated to cardinal next month by Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinals act as the pope's key advisors, who will eventually choose his successor.
Dolan, 61, is the eighth archbishop of New York to be named a cardinal.
Speaking after an early morning mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown, Dolan said he was "honored and humbled" and congratulated the community in New York for also being recognized by the pope.
"It's almost as if Pope Benedict XVI is putting the red hat of the cardinal on top of the Empire State Building, or upon the Statue of Liberty or home plate at Yankee Stadium, on the spires of this great St. Patrick's Cathedral or any of our wonderful parish churches," said Dolan.
Dolan's elevation comes three years after he was brought from Milwaukee to succeed Edward Cardinal Egan as the archbishop of New York.
In a statement, Egan said, "I extended to him my heartfelt congratulations and assured him of my prayers."
A spokesman for the New York Archdiocese says the appointment is more than Dolan's personal acknowledgement from the pope.
"It's a great tribute to Archbishop Dolan himself obviously. He will now be a cardinal in the church. It is a sign of his status in the church and how he's looked upon, but at the same time it's a recognition of the importance of the church here in New York," said New York Archdiocese Spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
Historically, everyone who has held the New York archbishop position in the past 110 years has ultimately been awarded the red cardinal's hat.
News of Dolan's promotion Friday was well-received among city Catholics and elected officials.
"He seems like a really genuine human being and I'm a Catholic, a Christian, and it's excellent news. It will be beneficial and speak well of the city as well," said one New Yorker.
"He's a good guy and I think it's great for New York City and great for the church," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"It speaks volumes about the work he's done since becoming archbishop. He's very much been out there in all of the neighborhoods," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Even the New York Yankees weighed in on the announcement.
In a statement, the team's managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Dolan "has been a wonderful source of inspiration and spiritual guidance for the entire New York community during his tenure."
Since arriving in the Big Apple, Dolan quickly established himself as a folksy leader with a common touch since. But his conservatism shows through in his defense of Catholic values.
He opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, and he's continued Cardinal Egan’s work of consolidating schools and parishes to get the archdiocese’s finances under control.
Some say he did not do enough to punish priests accused or found guilty of sexual abuse, although he has met with survivors.
Some of his critics have even called him "media savvy" and therefore ripe for promotion.
In a statement, New York City S.N.A.P., an organization for clergy sexual abuse victims, said Dolan does not deserve the distinction, and adds, "Behind closed doors, he continues to be a shrewd manager who's determined and adept at keeping clergy sex crimes covered up."
Among the other holy leaders being elevated is Bronx native Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, the current Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The new cardinals will be formally elevated in a ceremony at the Vatican on February 18.
Timothy Dolan was ordained into the priesthood in 1976.
He spent seven years in Rome as the rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
He is a native of St. Louis and was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002.
He held the post for seven years until his installation as archbishop of New York in April of 2009.