Updated: Burke 'humbled, honored' to be one of 24 new cardinals

2010-10-20T06:41:00Z 2010-10-21T06:21:33Z Updated: Burke 'humbled, honored' to be one of 24 new cardinalsFrom staff and wire reports and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch La Crosse Tribune

12:10 p.m. Update: When Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop Raymond Burke to Rome in 2008, he allowed the archbishop to keep the title of St. Louis Archbishop emeritus. On Wednesday morning, the St. Louis archdiocese released a statement from Burke saying he was "deeply humbled and honored" to be named a cardinal.

"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," Burke said in the statement. "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."

"Isn't that grand," said La Crosse Diocese Bishop William Callahan about Burke's elevation to cardinal. "I appreciate these moments. It's good news for us. This is one of our own."

Never forget Burke's humble beginnings, Callahan said.

"While he was here, Bishop Burke was Father Burke and came from Richland Center. He's one of our homegrown products. It's nice to see those kinds of values ... that homeland kind of quality grow and mature into the kind of man that now Cardinal Designate Burke has become. He assumes some very important duties."

Callahan said Burke always seemed to be on this path, from his early studies of canon law to his rapid ascent through the ranks of the Catholic Church.

"It's not surprising. I don't know too many who enjoy the law of the church as much as Cardinal Designate Burke does."

But what La Crosse and the diocese can take the most pride in, Callahan said, are the values that are a part of Burke and a part of this diocese.

"The values that he learned here, these are the kinds of values that we're trying to bring out and help to establish in all of our people because they truly are heartland values."

Callahan said that not unlike others in the Coulee Region, Burke has a strong work ethic and comes from hardy American stock.

"Those sorts of things are part and parcel to our life here in Wisconsin and definitely part of our life here in the Diocese of La Crosse. The one nice thing about him is he has not lost his farmboy quality. He's still a kind of modest, shy, quiet man. He has great depth. And a lot of that comes from his homeland. He is seriously a man of prayer and a strong spirtual man."

Here's an earlier version of this story:

VATICAN CITY - Archbishop Raymond Burke, former head of the La Crosse Diocese, was named a cardinal Wednesday by Pope Benedict XVI. In all, the pope named 24 new cardinals, putting his mark on the body that will elect his successor and giving a boost to Italian hopes to regain the papacy.

Burke, a Richland Center, Wis., native who was born and raised in the La Crosse diocese, taught religion at Aquinas High School and was installed as bishop of La Crosse in 1995. He left the diocese in January 2004 for St. Louis, where he served as archbishop for more than four years before leaving for Rome in 2008.

Benedict said the new "princes of the church" will be formally elevated at a ceremony in Rome on Nov. 20, making the announcement "with joy" at the end of his weekly public audience.

The new cardinals also include Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

Other key posts include Warsaw, Poland; Munich; Kinshasa, Congo; Quito, Equador; Aparecida, Brazil; Lusaka, Zambia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; and the leader in Egypt of the Catholic Coptic church.

Many of the new cardinals head Vatican offices, including Archbishop Kurt Koch, a Swiss in charge of the Vatican's relations with other Christians and Jews.

Cardinals are close advisers to a pope, but their key job is to elect the pontiff.

With the installation of the new cardinals, Benedict in just five years has named nearly half of the 120 prelates under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave following the death of a pope.

Eight of the new cardinals under 80 are Italians, giving them a total of 25 - nearly half of the Europeans in the electing body of the College of Cardinals.

Italians held the papacy for 455 years until the election of Poland's John Paul II in 1978, followed by the German-born Benedict in 2005.

"The preponderance of Italians would suggest the scale has tipped in favor of an Italian candidate for the next conclave," said Gerard O'Connell, a veteran Irish Vatican correspondent.

With the church rocked by a global clerical sex abuse crisis, Benedict named as cardinal in Munich, his former diocese, Archbishop Reinhard Marx, who has been prominent in efforts to clean up the scandal in Germany. He was behind efforts to force out a bishop accused of physical abuse of children.

However, the pope passed up giving a cardinal's red hat to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who has been the Irish church's leading advocate for Catholic openness in its child-abuse scandals.

 For more on this story, check back later or see Thursday's Tribune.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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