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N.J.’s McCarrick is named archbishop of Washington

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

New Jersey Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, whom Pope John Paul II has chosen to lead the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has close Irish connections and a deep interest in the land of his forebears.

"His father’s family, the McCarricks, are from Sligo, and the McLaughlins, his mother’s family, came from Westmeath," according to the Archbishop McCarrick’s spokesman, Jim Goodness.

McCarrick has voiced his support for the Good Friday agreement, saying it was "not a victory for one community over the other" but a "victory for dialogue over violence, accommodation over intransigence."

But referring to challenges that still lie ahead, McCarrick added: "Americans must continue to support those in Northern Ireland who are genuinely committed to realizing the more just and peaceful future it seeks to bring about."

In Washington, a pivotal posting because it’s the country’s capital, McCarrick, who’s 70, will succeed another Irish American, Cardinal James Hickey, who is 80 and in ill health.

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Although based in Newark for the last 14 years, McCarrick is not unknown in Washington’s corridors of power. The U.S. State Department named him to a commission on international religious freedom. In Congress, he is known as a supporter of immigrants and an opponent of abortion and contraception. He is also an advocate for debt relief for poor countries.

Archbishop McCarrick, who grew up poor in New York City during the Depression, was an only child. His father, a sea captain, died of tuberculosis. His mother worked in a Bronx factory that made car parts.

He attended Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University and studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s seminary in Yonkers. He speaks five languages.

In 1996, Bishop Thomas Finnegan of Killala, which covers much of County Mayo, conferred an honorary doctorate in theology on McCarrick during a ceremony in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. On that occasion, Finnegan said that despite McCarrick’s heavy schedule, he had "found time to make many visits" to both Sligo and Westmeath.

The archdiocese of Washington, with more than half a million Catholics and 140 parishes in the District of Columbia and five Maryland counties, is smaller in size but larger in stature than the archdiocese of Newark. Newark is the seventh-largest archdiocese in the United States, with about 1.3 million Catholics and 235 parishes.

McCarrick will be installed in ceremonies in Washington on Jan. 3 and 4.

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