Statement by Bishop David Zubik on Cardinal-Designate Donald Wuerl
The Diocese of Pittsburgh is thrilled that another of our native sons and our former bishop, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, was named a Cardinal of the Catholic Church today by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. This marks the fourth time that a priest-son of Pittsburgh has been named a Cardinal, following in the footsteps of Adam Cardinal Maida, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, and Sean Cardinal O'Malley. This is also the fourth of twelve bishops who have led the Diocese of Pittsburgh to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, the others being John Cardinal Dearden, John Cardinal Wright and Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl’s incredible gifts are well known, far beyond the region of southwestern Pennsylvania. Everywhere he has served, the Church has benefitted enormously by his presence.
Shortly following his appointment as Bishop of Pittsburgh, then-Bishop Wuerl shared with me, then his secretary, that he wanted to put the Diocese of Pittsburgh on the map, to lead the Diocese of Pittsburgh to a place of even greater respectability, not only amongst Catholics but in the larger southwestern Pennsylvania community; not only locally but nationally as well. His dream came true because he invited so many of us to join him as our leader to make it so!
Here in Pittsburgh, Cardinal-designate Wuerl exemplified incredible pastoral leadership as Bishop of Pittsburgh. In his first pastoral letter to the faithful of the diocese in 1988, New Beginnings in a Long Walk Together, he raised the need to evaluate the vitality and viability of our parishes.
Here in Pittsburgh, Cardinal-designate Wuerl placed great emphasis on ecumenical and interfaith dialogue with Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, a hallmark of the nearly two decades of his ministry in Pittsburgh.
Here in Pittsburgh, Cardinal-designate Wuerl became know as the “education bishop” because of his untiring support for Catholic education. He was at the forefront of finding innovative ways to finance our Catholic schools, making them more affordable and accessible. He established the Bishop’s Education Fund, which provides tuition assistance to those most in need. He was behind the creation of the Extra Mile Education Foundation, which sustains parochial schools in the inner city for the education of at-risk youth. He founded the Department for Persons with Disabilities with an award-winning curriculum imitated nationwide, a model of inclusive education for persons with special needs from kindergarten through college—the only program of its kind in the nation.
Here in Pittsburgh, Cardinal-designate Wuerl initiated delicate steps to address safe environments for the protection especially of children. He addressed the issue of sexual misconduct against minors long before it became a critical issue center stage nationwide.
Cardinal-designate Wuerl remains dear to our hearts. Today, as our Holy Father honors him, he honors also our priests, religious and laity. I know that you join with me as we congratulate Cardinal-designate Wuerl and as we assure him of our continued prayers and support.