Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals, including two from the United States, and announced a consistory for their formal induction into the College of Cardinals Feb. 18, 2012.
Among those named were Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, who still is administering the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The pope announced the nominations to the faithful in St. Peter's Square at noon Jan. 6, before praying the Angelus.
Cardinal-designate O'Brien, who was in St. Peter's Square when his name was announced, said his priestly life has been "a surprise at every step. I thought being appointed archbishop of Baltimore would be the last surprise, but I was wrong."
In separate statements, the North American cardinals were quick to stress the collective rather than the personal nature of the honor.
"This is not about Timothy Dolan," the New York cardinal-designate said. "This is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York. ... It's as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium."
“On behalf of the Diocese of Raleigh, I extend my prayerful best wishes to Cardinal-designate Dolan and Cardinal-designate O’Brien,” said the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge. “Both men have faithfully served the Church and those entrusted to their care and will be of great assistance to our Holy Father as advisors in carrying out the mission of the Church.”
The latest additions will bring the United States and Canada's share of the College of Cardinals to 22. The U.S., which is home to about 5.5 percent of the world's Catholics, will provide almost 10 percent of the 125 cardinals under the age of 80, who are the only cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave for a future pope.
With his latest appointments, Pope Benedict will have named more than 50 percent of the current cardinal electors, with the rest having been named by Blessed John Paul II.
The pope's latest nominations included 16 Europeans, continuing a trend in his cardinal appointments since his election in 2005. Seven of the new appointments are Italians, which will bring that nation's total of cardinal electors to 30 -- or 24 percent -- more than any other country.