Pope John Paul II has named 25 new cardinals - the princes of the Roman Catholic Church - from 18 nations, among them the archbishops of Washington and Detroit.
The pontiff made the announcement Sunday at the celebration of the Mass of the Most Holy Trinity, marking a major feast day. The new cardinals will receive their red hats, symbol of their status as princes of the church, at the Vatican June 28, John Paul said.They include archbishops James Hickey of Washington and Edmund Szoka of Detroit, both of whom are Michigan natives and formerly studied together.
"The entire church is joyful because once again it sees suitable universality underlined in their choice," the pope said. "Among the new cardinals there are prelates from every continent and generous and valid servants of the See of Peter."
Hickey, 67, was born in Midland, Mich., and has served as archbishop of Washington for eight years. He was auxiliary bishop of Saginaw, Mich., then Cleveland before he moved to Washington.
During his career, Hickey has defended human rights in Central America in Capitol Hill hearings, worked to ease racial tensions created by desegregation in Cleveland and comforted AIDS patients.
"This is a special honor, not simply for me, but also for the Church of Washington," Hickey said in a statement released in Washington. "In asking me to join the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father recognizes the special place of the Church of Washington."
Szoka, 60, was ordained as a priest in 1954, and served at the diocese of Marquette, Mich. In 1971, he was ordained as the first bishop of Gaylord, Mich., where he organized the diocese. He was installed as archbishop of Detroit in 1981.
Szoka has a close relationship with the pope, who visited Detroit in 1987 because of Szoka's persistence, a Detroit archdiocese spokesman said. Hickey and Szoka both studied at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.
There are three other other active cardinals in the United States: Bernard Francis Law of Boston, John O'Connor of New York and Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.
The pope also said the name of another cardinal he chose for the first consistory of his reign will remain secret, apparently because he lives in a country where the status of cardinal would endanger him.
John Paul had been expected for some time to make new appointments to the College of Cardinals, which now stands at 136 members. Only 97 of those are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in the selection of a pope.
There are a total of 10 new cardinals from Western Europe, three each from North and South America, four from Asia and three from Africa.
The timing of the announcement and the date of the consistory came as a surprise. It will be held only three days after the pontiff returns from a trip to Austria, June 23-27.