Pope creates 22 new cardinals, including three from U.S., Canada

New U.S. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan greets fellow cardinals after receiving his red hat from Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals from 13 countries — including three from the United States and Canada — placing red hats on their heads and calling them to lives of even greater love and service to the church.

The churchmen who joined the College of Cardinals Feb. 18 included Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former archbishop of Baltimore; and Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.

In their first official act in their new role, the new cardinals were asked to join their peers in giving the pope their opinion, in writing, on the canonization of seven new saints, including Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, an American Indian, and Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii.

The pope announced at the consistory that the canonization ceremony would be celebrated Oct. 21 at the Vatican.

Cardinal Collins said, “I am delighted that my first action as a cardinal was to join with the College of Cardinals in affirming the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who has been such an inspiration for the people of our First Nations and so many others in Canada and the United States.”

Cardinal Dolan also mentioned the consultation on the canonization of Blessed Kateri, who was born in what is now New York state, and Mother Marianne, who served there before going to Hawaii.

“As grateful as I am for being a cardinal,” he told reporters later, “I really want to be a saint. I mean that, but I have a long way to go.”

St. Peter’s Basilica was filled to overflowing for the ceremony, and several thousand people sat in a sunny St. Peter’s Square watching on large video screens. Choirs from New York and from several Italian dioceses provided music for the service.

At the end of the ceremony, the College of Cardinals had 213 members, 125 of whom were under the age of 80 and, therefore, eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. [more]