The gracious act of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in elevating me to the College of Cardinals is a recognition of the importance the Holy See places on the Archdiocese of Washington, the Church in the nation’s capital. I am humbled and grateful to our Holy Father for his trust in me as shepherd of this flock and I renew my pledge of fidelity, affection and loyalty to him.
Yesterday I learned of this announcement, the day the Church celebrates the North American martyrs. In the Church’s liturgy in memory of these missionaries, only two are recognized by name. The rest are simply listed as companions. That struck me as applicable to this honor today. In this wonderful Church, clergy, religious and lay faithful all work so hard on behalf of the Gospel, but since you cannot name everyone, the Church names the bishop.
My thoughts immediately turned to the Holy Father’s visit to Washington just over two years ago and the great privilege I had in welcoming him, the Chief Shepherd and Vicar of Christ, who came among us to strengthen us in our faith.
I had the joy of telling our Holy Father that not all that far from here in 1634 the first Catholics arrived in the colonies that later formed the United States. From those modest beginnings has come forth a Church truly representative of the Gospel’s message of hope. Today in his kindness to the Church of Washington, the Holy Father has renewed his support and love, and we in turn express again our bonds of faith and affection for him, the Vicar of Christ.
In accepting this honor, I renew my pledge, in the words of Pope Benedict, to “repropose the perennial truth of Christ’s Gospel” as this local Church carries out the New Evangelization in announcing the good news of Jesus Christ. Today as the Holy Spirit is urging the Church to rekindle in people’s daily lives a new awareness of and familiarity with Jesus, the Spirit is also charging me to deepen my commitment in my service as shepherd of this archdiocese."
--From an email sent by our Archdiocese today.