Pope Benedict will elevate the 61-year-old Dolan to cardinal along with 21 others from Hong Kong, Berlin, Prague and from some key Vatican offices.
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Dolan was named Archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict in February of 2009. He had earlier served as archbishop of Milwaukee after being named to the post by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
"You know, as a kid, I wanted to be a parish priest. To be a cardinal is awesome," Dolan told CBS 2's John Slattery.
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Dolan broke the news to worshipers at the end of morning Mass Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"I called mom last night. She said, 'it's about time.' Only a mom can say that," he said.
WCBS 880's Alex Silverman With Reaction From Parishioners
"Every mass is a great act of thanksgiving, this adds some special fervor for me as I thank Almighty God for the new call to service," Dolan said.
In a statement following the announcement, Dolan said, "I am honored, humbled, and grateful, …but, let's be frank: this is not about Timothy Dolan; this is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York, and to all our cherished friends and neighbors who call this great community home."
"It's as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium; or on the spires of Saint Patrick's Cathedral or any of our other parish churches," he added. "This is not about new clothes and colors and a new hat. Jesus warned us about that stuff."
Many Catholic New Yorkers are delighted by the promotion.
"I'm so happy for him," Cora Vasconcelos told CBS 2. "He's a lovely man."
"I think it's great," Joe Caracuel said. "He's a great representavie of the diocese. He's a great leader."
"I think he's very outgoing very pleasant, that's what I find about him," Maureen McDonough said, adding when asked if Dolan will look good in a red hat, "Yes, indeed he will!"
Even Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner joined in, offering his congratulations.
"He has been a wonderful source of inspiration and spiritual guidance for the entire New York community during his tenure," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "We look forward to many more years of his grace and leadership."
Dolan was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1960 and knew early in life that he wanted to be a priest. He was ordained in 1976 and earned a doctorate in American Church History at the Catholic University of America.
Eleven years later, he was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. Between 1994 and June 2001, he served as the rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
In 2001, Dolan was named the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis by Pope John Paul II. Last November, he was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The jubilation over the appointment wasn't lost on his brother, whom CBS 2's Tony Aiello reached in Milwaukee.
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"We'd heard the rumors that there was probably gonna be a consistory in February, but until you hear the actual confirmation, it really doesn't hit you. Really doesn't sink in so when he called last night, it was a great phone call, short phone call. He's very proud and he's very humble," Bob Dolan said.
Dolan's new position will make him eligible to elect a new pope, should the occasion arise. He succeeded Cardinal Edward Egan, who retired and is still eligible to vote for a pope until his 80th birthday in April. The city will have two cardinals.
Egan released a statement saying," I extended to him my heartfelt congratulations and assured him of my prayers. This is wonderful news for the cardinal-designate and for the entire community of faith that he serves so well."
Pope Benedict said he will elevate the 22 new cardinals in a ceremony on Feb. 18.
Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee said that Dolan's promotion is a cause for New York Jews to celebrate.
"He has gone out of his way to speak about the Jewish community, the history of Catholic-Jewish relations, to appear in Jewish venues," Rabbi Marans told CBS 2's Aiello.
And the American Jewish Committee may return the favor by sending a representative to Rome next month.
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