NEW YORK — New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said Friday he viewed the Vatican's decision to name him a cardinal as a call to higher service.
Dolan was one of 22 prelates who will be elevated to cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church in a formal ceremony Feb. 18.
Pope Benedict XVI made the announcement in Rome on Friday, following an Epiphany Mass that ended the Vatican's main Christmas celebrations. The list also includes Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the former archbishop of Baltimore.
The 61-year-old Dolan said he learned of the pope's decision on Thursday from the Vatican's ambassador in Washington.
"I called mom last night. She said, 'it's about time,'" he said after celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral Friday morning attended by a few dozen worshippers.
As cardinal, Dolan said he will have more decision-making responsibilities in Rome but will continue to work as archbishop for New York.
Cardinals are the pope's key advisers and are members of the group that will eventually elect Benedict's successor.
Dolan was installed as archbishop of New York on April 15, 2009. Previously, he served as archbishop of Milwaukee.
Standing in front of nativity scene inside the church, he told reporters that he had recently read a biography of President John F. Kennedy and recalled his reply to someone who congratulated him on the honor of the presidency.
"'Thank you,' John Kennedy replied, 'but I don't look at it so much as an honor as a call to higher service.' My sentiments exactly," said Dolan. "This is not about privilege, change of colors, hats, new clothes, places of honor or a different title. Jesus warned us against all of that stuff."
Dolan was ordained a priest in 1976 and earned a doctorate in American Church History at the Catholic University of America.
In 1987, Dolan was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.
In 1994, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he served until June 2001.
In 2001, Dolan was named the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II.
Last November, he was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.