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I am deeply humbled and honored by the announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI intends to name me to the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church at the Consistory which he has convoked for this coming November 20th. Having received the news of the Holy Father’s intention, I express my deepest gratitude to His Holiness for the great confidence which he has placed in me, and I renew my commitment to serve Him, as Shepherd of the universal Church, in total fidelity and with all my being.
Considering the weighty responsibilities of the members of the College of Cardinals in assisting the Holy Father as his closest co-workers, even “to the shedding of blood,” I am more than ever conscious of my own weakness and of my total dependence upon the help of divine grace, in order that I may fulfill worthily and generously the responsibilities which will be mine, God willing, as a Cardinal of the Church.
I count upon the continued intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Communion of Saints, and the prayers of the many faithful whom I have been blessed to serve as priest and Bishop, especially in my home diocese, the Diocese of La Crosse, and in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and of those with whom I have been, in the past, and am now privileged to serve in the Roman Curia, especially my co-workers at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Only the knowledge of God’s immeasurable and unceasing outpouring of mercy and love from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus gives me the confidence to accept the great honor and burden which His Holiness intends to confer upon me.
Today’s announcement turns my thoughts with deepest affection and gratitude to my late parents and all my family, living and deceased; and to the priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who have assisted me to know my vocation to the Holy Priesthood and to respond to it with an undivided heart over the more than thirty-five years of my priestly life and ministry. Today, with all my heart, I humbly thank God for the gifts of life, of the Catholic faith, and of my vocation.
At the same time, my thoughts naturally turn to the many challenges which the Church faces in our day in carrying out her divine mission for the salvation of the world. In particular, I am deeply conscious of the critical importance of the loving witness of the Church to the truth, revealed to us by God through both faith and reason, which alone is our salvation. It is a witness which Our Holy Father tirelessly gives with remarkable wisdom and courage. I pledge myself anew to assist Pope Benedict XVI in this critical witness and in the many works of his pastoral charity on behalf of all our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world.
I ask for prayers that I may be able to assist our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the best of my ability and with every ounce of my strength. I, once again, place my whole heart, together with the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, I am confident that I will find the purification, courage and strength which I will need to carry out the new responsibilities to be confided into my hands. I thank, in advance, all who will pray for me, and ask God to bless them abundantly.