New role hasn’t changed first Texas cardinal
Jan 19, 2008
Even in the full attire required for a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Daniel DiNardo appears completely at ease.
(The Huntsville Item, January 19, 2008) With a sincere smile that reaches his warm, dark eyes, he carries himself as though he is surrounded by close friends, and he speaks with an affection both for those around him and for his new position.
“I’m still the same Dan DiNardo,” he said prior to baptizing and confirming nine inmates at the Wynne Unit. “While being a cardinal is a heavy responsibility, and I consider it a great honor to be a cardinal, I wouldn’t want to change my personality.”
DiNardo, who was elevated to cardinal on Nov. 24, 2007, is the first cardinal named from Texas.
In fact, he said, he is the first cardinal named who is from the southern United States.
“I was shocked when it was announced,” DiNardo said. “Now that it has happened, I find people who are both Catholic and non-Catholic are very pleased.
“I think it really says something that Rome has recognized this great growth in the Catholic population in the South — the faith is here and people recognize it.”
DiNardo, who is originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., served as a priest for 20 years before becoming a bishop in Sioux City, Iowa.
He later became the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, which he continues to oversee even with his new title.
With his new standing, DiNardo will serve as a member of the body of advisers for the pope.
While he will travel to the Vatican approximately twice a year for that purpose, he will remain a chief pastor of more than 1.3 million Roman Catholics in the Galveston-Houston area.
“Even though I had the title of cardinal added, I’m still the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, so it’s been awful busy,” he said. “Your schedule gets kind of messed up, but this is a great honor both for the diocese and for me.
“I’ll also have to go to Rome occasionally for meetings with the pope, because as a cardinal, you become more of a special adviser to the pope.”
During one of his meetings with the pope, DiNardo said the pope gave him a very straightforward reason for his new title.
“The pope said to me, ‘Texas needs a cardinal,’” DiNardo said. “Needless to say, I didn’t disagree with the pope.”
Not only does DiNardo take his interaction with the pope seriously, but he also places importance on how he relates to those he works with on a daily basis.
“Because I’m in the South, I have to make sure I’m paying attention to the pastoral and the human needs of people,” he said. “As a cardinal, if I sign a letter, it may have some effect and I take that very seriously.”
Since being elevated to his new position in the Catholic church, DiNardo said he has experienced things he may not have gotten to experience as an archbishop.
“Without being too specific, a national legislator wanted to talk with me recently,” he said. “We had a very frank but a very pleasant discussion, and I feel like we talked about a lot of issues that needed addressing.
“I don’t think, if I weren’t a cardinal, that it would have happened.”
Overall, DiNardo said his priorities have stayed close to the same principles he has always maintained.
“My major reason to be with the church is to preach, teach, celebrate the sacrament and to be with people,” he said. “Being with people is the part I love the most. In my opinion, it’s the best, most wonderful part of my job.”