The man who led the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese for 18 years has been selected by Pope Benedict XVI to join the College of Cardinals. Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl will receive his red hat in an elevation ceremony Saturday November 20th and will receive his ring from the Pope in a Mass the following day. The 69-year old will continue to serve as the head of the Archdiocese of Washington. Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese served with Wuerl in Pittsburgh back in the 1980’s and 90’s. He says he is “thrilled” by the announcement, but he was not surprised. “I think we could all see this honor was coming because Cardinal Designate Wuerl has been asked to do a number of things on behalf of the Pope even without the title of Cardinal,” says Zubik. Zubik says Wuerl will approach matters as a cardinal the same way he tackled tough issues as a bishop in Pittsburgh, very thoughtfully and methodically. “He will stand up for what is right,” says Zubik. Zubik also points to Wuerl’s ability to bring together people of all faiths as an asset that he will bring to the College of Cardinals.
Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh and was ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1966. Pope John Paul II ordained him a bishop on January 6, 1986 in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as Auxiliary Bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as Bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to the Archdiocese of Washington on June 22, 2006.
Zubik says this is the third time that a Pittsburgh native has been named cardinal (Adam Maida, Daniel DiNardo) and the 4th bishop to be elevated to the position (John Dearden, John Wright, Anthony Bevilacqua). The Pittsburgh Dioceses has had 12 Bishops in all.