- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, said yesterday he is interested in retiring when he turns 75 in July.

“I’ll be writing my [retirement] letter, and I’m certainly open to retirement. I have a thousand things I could do, or at least I think I could do,” Cardinal McCarrick told The Washington Times yesterday.

His retirement, however, is the pope’s decision.

In recent years, many cardinals have remained long past retirement age.

A bishop is required to submit his resignation to the Vatican when he turns 75, according to church policy. The pope can accept the resignation, require him to stay on, or simply not acknowledge the letter for several years. Cardinals older than 80 are not eligible to vote in papal elections.

Cardinal McCarrick, a native New Yorker who will turn 75 July 7, has suffered health problems in the past few months. He underwent rotator cuff surgery about two months ago and had a bad cold during the conclave last month.

His retirement now is only speculation. In the meantime, Cardinal McCarrick will continue to minister across the United States.

Yesterday, he led a Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest, where he spoke of the new pontiff’s character.

“I have known him for probably 20 years,” he said. “The new pope is a very humble, kind, gentle person, a little shy with a great smile and sense of humor.”

Despite his quiet and withdrawn personality, Benedict is quickly coming into his own, Cardinal McCarrick said.

“Before [he became pope], you would never see him with his arms out” as they were when he greeted the crowd in St. Peter’s Square after his election April 19.

“I was with him Monday after he was elected and at that time we were out. … He was greeting the people and talking to a few sick who were there. He was very warm to them,” Cardinal McCarrick told The Times before he celebrated Mass yesterday.

Cardinal McCarrick returned to the United States on Tuesday after a three-week stay in Rome.

He was one of 115 cardinals who elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany as the new pope in a secret conclave more than two weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2. He also attended the funeral of John Paul and the installation Mass for the new pope on April 24.

Cardinal McCarrick called his return to St. Matthew’s a “homecoming.” He told parishioners during the Mass, “I can say to you with all my heart, Rome is wonderful, but it’s good to be back.”

He spoke of Benedict’s spiritual transformation during the conclave. “We know that he has always been a proclaimer of truth and a defender of faith. During the conclave, we saw him not only as a great theologian and a brilliant mind, but we found something many of us didn’t know before: We found this new individual, so very respectful and charming,” he said.

Cardinal McCarrick asked parishioners to pray for the new pope. “I believe we have a pope who we can follow with joy and confidence,” he said.

Yesterday was the first time in more than a month that Cardinal McCarrick spoke at St. Matthew, which he considers his home parish. After the 10 a.m. Mass there, the cardinal celebrated a similar Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast.

Parishioners seemed to agree with the cardinal’s opinion.

“If I were not Catholic, I would become one,” said Jeanine Cornell, 65, of Arlington. “I just love the new pope. He has a beautiful smile. As soon as he was elected pope, he was so transformed by the Holy Spirit. He’s in good hands.”

• Julia Duin contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide