New cardinal from Texas ponders role in Catholic faith
Nov 19, 2007
The state's first Roman Catholic cardinal says that for now his primary duties will remain leading the 1.3 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as well as pursuing his interest in Catholic education on a national level.
(The Associated Press, Nov. 18, 2007) HOUSTON — Some cardinals have used the spotlight to address social and political concerns, but others have carefully tried to avoid it.
Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo said that on broader issues, he expects that Houston's diverse religious and ethnic landscape would draw him into more interreligious dialogue and issues of immigration.
"I guess I'm telling you in a way, that I haven't discovered any one thing yet, but this thing will probably grow," DiNardo said. "I'm relatively new. Who knows what will happen? I'd like to keep open to the spirit as we say."
DiNardo leaves Houston on Monday for a Vatican ceremony that will welcome him into the top ranks of Roman Catholic clerics.
On Saturday, DiNardo will kneel before Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square and accept the red biretta that symbolizes his membership in the College of Cardinals.
The cardinals take on additional duties at the Vatican and sometimes serve as advisers to the pope. DiNardo will be among 120 members younger than 80 who one day will choose Benedict's successor.
DiNardo describes himself as a traditionalist, a cleric in line with the doctrinal teachings of the church and its traditions.
On the church's positions against abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research, DiNardo said he would "be not only down the line but absolutely convinced of it."
But Catholic teachings and DiNardo's opinions on topics such as immigration would be considered relatively liberal by U.S. standards, he said.
"We put in our statements that a country needs to protect its borders," DiNardo said, "but the overly punitive way in which the issue of immigration reform is being handled today is just unworkable."
DiNardo will have plenty to do as administrator of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese, said the Rev. Leon Strieder, an associate professor of liturgy and sacraments at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston.
"He hasn't done all that much in terms of the world stage," said Strieder, who has known DiNardo since they were students in Rome in 1972. "I think he is very much at the beginning. I will be curious to see what all he ends up doing."
DiNardo's new position gives him a visible platform from which to speak his mind.
"DiNardo is going to have to figure that out for himself, what kind of role he wants to play," said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "There is no question that a man in a red hat sticks out in a crowd."