Governor, dignitaries welcome Texas' first cardinal of Catholic Church
Dec 14, 2007
Just over two weeks ago, at the Vatican in Rome, Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, bent down to kiss the ring of Pope Benedict XVI at ceremonies to install DiNardo and 22 others as the newest cardinals of the Catholic Church.
(MyWestTexas.com, 12/13/2007) AUSTIN -- Just over two weeks ago, at the Vatican in Rome, Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, bent down to kiss the ring of Pope Benedict XVI at ceremonies to install DiNardo and 22 others as the newest cardinals of the Catholic Church.
"I said to the pope, 'Holy Father, the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston loves you and wishes to be in communion with you,' and Pope Benedict looked at me and said, 'Texas needed a cardinal.'"
The story met with the loud approval of some 400 Catholics, interfaith representatives and Austin politicos gathered Wednesday at a luncheon, hosted by Gov. Rick Perry and honoring DiNardo, who with his installation last month became the first-ever cardinal, or "prince" of the Catholic Church from Texas.
DiNardo, who made it known as recently as during his time as archbishop, that he still preferred to be called "Father Dan," humbly gave credit to Joseph Fiorenza, his predeccesor as archbishop in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese.
"I feel I should take the red hat they gave me as cardinal, cut it in half and give half it it to Archbishop Fiorenza," DiNardo said.
Fiorenza, former Bishop of San Angelo, the diocese encompassing Midland-Odessa, presided over "the intense growth of the Catholic presence in the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston," according to DiNardo.
"He retired, and had to sit back and watch as the kid from Pittsburgh got the red hat," DiNardo quipped.
There are seven million Catholics in the state of Texas with nearly 80,000 in the San Angelo Diocese.
DiNardo noted a number of issues he would continue to work for as cardinal, including health care, working conditions, immigration, and pro-life issues, which all 15 bishops in the state work on passionately and in tandem.
"All these issues I find important and will work for, and I think I can state it all by saying we want to promote the human person," DiNardo said.
Formerly bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, who began his work in the church as a priest in Pittsburgh, DiNardo said he felt the pope has recognized that the state of Texas is crucial to the dimension and dynamic Catholic presence in the world. DiNardo said he hopes to work closely with Pope Benedict "as he has become an increasingly strong voice in his first two years in office for peace and accord among all nations."
DiNardo also said he felt part of the pope's reasoning for appointing him as a prelate was to take advantage of his leadership in the southern region of the United States, using it as a way to join the two Americas together and therefore further perpetuating the concept of what DiNardo calls "global faith and reason," taking advantage of the love and devotion of Catholics in the southern hemispehere with the progressive nature often found of those in the northern hemisphere.
DiNardo, who will continue to serve as archbishop of Galveston-Houston and in that capacity will serve as leader of that region's Catholics, joked that he wasn't sure exactly what roles he would be given as cardinal, but said, "As soon as I find out I'll let all of you know." Showing his jovial nature and sense of humor throughout his brief talk, DiNardo said his job now is to attend the untold number of functions being held in his honor and "try to look halfway intelligent in front of all these great Catholics."
"Honor is given me, but honor is also given to the dynamic Catholic presence in the state of Texas," he said. "We are now some seven million. We have taken our place in terms of working for the common good with the people of this state and to the extent that I can contribute to that, I want to do that."
In his introduction, Perry said DiNardo was "living proof that the Catholic faith is alive and well in Texas, and called DiNardo a man of faith, wisdom, courage and service; a blessing to our state and an inspiration to everyone."
Speaking with the media afterward, DiNardo said his notes of congratulations were numerous, but one in particular was memorable.
"I received one from a child at a school who wrote, 'Congratulations, cardinal. Now get to work.' "