By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Desmond Connell, is to have a say in who the next pope will be following an announcement by the Vatican that he is to be made a cardinal next month.
Connell, 74, is only the third archbishop of Dublin to be made a cardinal and he is the first since 1885. Since then, all appointments have been archbishops of Armagh.
The announcement was warmly welcomed with President Mary McAleese describing it as a cause of "great pride and satisfaction" for Ireland, and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern saying he was "delighted."
Connell, who has been archbishop of Dublin since 1988, is one of 37 new cardinals announced by Pope John Paul to replace those who have died or have become too old.
In the U.S., New York Archbishop Edward Egan, 68, was elevated, as was Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, 70, of Washington, D.C. Egan said Sunday, in a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, that he was "deeply humbled." Until recently, McCarrick was archbishop of the Newark, N.J., diocese.
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In the UK, the pope announced that the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cormac Murphy O’Connor, will also be elevated.
He is the fifth son of Dr. George Murphy O’Connor and his wife. Ellen, who were both from Cork.
Murphy O’Connor, 67, who is regarded as a progressive figure in the church, took over following the death of Cardinal Basil Hume in 1999. He had previously been Bishop of Arundel and Brighton for 22 years.
The new cardinals will receive their red hats at a special ceremony, known as a consistory, to be held in Rome on Feb. 21.
Connell, who is conservative on most issues, is already a member of the Rome-based Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Bishops.
The archbishop expressed his "deep gratitude" to the pope and said he was "deeply moved" by the honor.
He said the pope had spoken often of his affection for Ireland.
"Indeed, he traces the origins of the faith in his own native country to the influence of Irish missionaries and retains vivid memories of his visit here in 1979," he said.
Since 1059, the principal function of the cardinals has been to elect the new pope. Only cardinals who are under 80 are eligible to participate in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
Under rules established by Pope Paul VI, the number of cardinals cannot be more than 120.
Cardinals also advise and assist the pope and may represent him as his legate at special church celebrations and assemblies.
The church’s canon rules says that those promoted to the job must be "truly outstanding" in doctrine, virtue and piety.