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Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), congratulated Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, 61, and Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, 72, on being named cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI, January 6.

“This is an honor for these outstanding church leaders as well as an honor for the Church in the United States,” Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville said.“As men of prayer, wisdom and dedication, they will bring many talents and graces to their new roles as advisors to the Holy Father.”

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Archbishop Kurtz noted their generous service beyond their respective archdioceses.

“The entire USCCB has benefitted from their many abilities,” he said. “As president of the USCCB and as former president of Catholic Relief Services, Cardinal-designate Dolan has brought both energy and grace to international and domestic matters.”

He noted Cardinal-designate O’Brien’s unique contributions as well.

“Cardinal-designate O’Brien’s experience with the military has made him a valuable consultant on USCCB justice and peace efforts,” he said. “His seminary background has proven especially insightful in development of our priestly formation programs.”

The new appointments make the churchmen members of the College of Cardinals, where they can be called upon by the pope to serve as advisors at consistories on church affairs, and they will be among members of a conclave that elects successors of the pope. Cardinals can vote in a conclave until they reach the age of 80.

Cardinal-designate Dolan heads the Archdiocese of New York, which traditionally has been led by a cardinal. His predecessor in New York was Cardinal Edward M. Egan, who is 79.

Cardinal-designate O’Brien was named Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian (Knights) Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher on August 29, 2011. The Rome-based position is usually held by a cardinal. Cardinal John P. Foley resigned from the position last February due to illness and died in Philadelphia, December 11, 2011. The order is a chivalric organization dedicated to promoting and defending Christianity in the Holy Land, supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and responding to the needs of Catholics in the region. Cardinal-designate O’Brien also remains head of the Baltimore Archdiocese until Pope Benedict names his successor there.

Timothy Dolan was born in St. Louis and ordained a priest in 1976, for the St. Louis Archdiocese and then served in local parishes. Subsequent assignments included service at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, vice-rector at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, and rector at North American College in Rome. Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of St, Louis in 2001, and archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002. Pope Benedict XVI named him archbishop of New York in 2009. He holds a doctorate in church history from The Catholic University of America.

Edwin O’Brien was born in New York and ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1965. He served as a chaplain at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, and later as an Army chaplain in Vietnam. He served as secretary to New York’s Cardinal Terence Cooke and Cardinal John O’Connor and as rector at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York and North American College, Rome. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Angelicum University in Rome.

In 1996, he was named an auxiliary bishop of New York. In 1997, he was named coadjutor archbishop for the Archdiocese for Military Services USA, and became head of the military archdiocese later that year. He was named archbishop of Baltimore in 2007.