Interview With Galveston-Houston's Archbishop, Daniel DiNardo

Cardinal-designate Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will be elevated to cardinal Saturday in a consistory in the Vatican. He says the event is a recognition of the region’s growing importance in the life of the Church in the United States.

A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Cardinal-designate DiNardo, 58, currently serves on the Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism for the U.S. episcopal conference, and is on the board of directors of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He also serves as an adviser representing the bishops' conference to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

He spoke with ZENIT about his appointment to the College of Cardinals and what it means for Galveston-Houston and the American South.

Q: What is significant about the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston that would make Benedict XVI raise its stature by bestowing the red hat upon its archbishop?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: The southern part of the United States has experienced a lot of population growth in recent years, particularly the Catholic population. The appointment is a symbol of that growth.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is the largest diocese in Texas. A lot of the growth in our community is from Hispanic immigrants, but we have also seen large numbers of Nigerians and Filipinos move into our diocese. Additionally, many people are relocating to the South because of the availability of jobs.

In short, this is a historic appointment for the American South and recognizes the region’s growing importance in the life of the Church in the United States.

Q: What are you doing to foster vocations in the archdiocese to keep up with the growing need for more priests?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: We have a program called Project Andrew that helps young men encounter the possibility of a priestly vocation. Priests, teachers or parents bring a young man to an evening of reflection and prayer where they can explore a vocation in a supportive, faith-filled environment.

I attend those evenings regularly because of the importance I place on fostering new vocations to serve the needs of God’s people.

The biggest challenge in fostering vocations is ministering to young men, all of whom are unique individuals, and at the same time reaching out to young men of various cultures. Our new director of vocations is actually Vietnamese.

We currently have 39 seminarians and growth has been pretty consistent.

Q: Your archdiocese has a broad diversity of Catholic liturgical rites, including an Anglican Use parish, a former Anglican congregation that has joined the Catholic Church. How has this diversity of rites enriched the archdiocese?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: I think the plurality of rites can be perplexing for some, but overall they present different avenues for encountering the rich liturgical tradition of the Church.

This diocese was established in 1847, and so it has a long history involving people from all over.

We have many people of East-Indian heritage who worship in the Syro-Malabar Rite, we have Maronites, Byzantine and Ruthenian Catholics, as well as the Anglican Use parish you mentioned.

That particular parish just built a beautiful new church and its members are growing.

Q: As a patristic scholar, you have a deep appreciation for the Church’s sacred Tradition. Benedict XVI has in his pontificate underlined the importance of not rupturing with the Church's past, and to provide continuity with its rich liturgical and theological traditions. In what ways can bishops implement the Holy Father’s program in their dioceses?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: When I arrived in the archdiocese, I really didn’t find a lot of instances of discontinuity or rupture. There are always complaints with the way Mass is celebrated in some places, but my predecessor bishops were great moderating forces. Thus, the diocese avoided some of the problems found elsewhere associated with a rupture from the past.

With regard to the liturgy, I think we can take a cue from the liturgical piety of the Church Fathers. In the Fathers, you see an emphasis not only on the words said at Mass, but also the importance of the gestures of the liturgy. In other words, say the black, do the red.

I also always emphasize unity in faith, meaning unity in the Creed. The Creed allows the Church to unite around a common set of beliefs. And knowing the Creed and what it means helps root the faithful in the great Tradition of the Church.

As I tell my seminarians, it is not enough to have the right sentiments about God; you actually have to know something. You have to know what the Church teaches and what theologians such as St. Augustine or St. Thomas said about particular doctrines.

The great challenge in handing on the faith is training the volunteer catechists who serve in our churches. Although we have revamped the catechetical programs as well as the guidelines for confirmation in our archdiocese, we need to find ways to encourage these volunteers to receive the necessary formation to be effective in their work, as well as deal with the problem of catechizing people from different cultures.

Here, the Catechism of the Catholic Church can serve as a great resource.

As far as "Summorum Pontificum," we have four parishes in the diocese where the extraordinary form of the Roman rite is said regularly, including one downtown parish where it is said daily.

I don’t see much of an increase in the number of parishes using the extraordinary form because there hasn’t been much of a demand thus far.

On the other hand, we have had discussions with a particular religious community about the possibility of establishing a personal parish that would allow for the full presence of the liturgical and devotional life associated with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

But due to the explosive growth in the archdiocese, I have no parish to give them. This group would have to raise the funds to establish such a parish. But those discussions are at a very preliminary stage at this point.

Q: There are a number of ecclesial movements active in your archdiocese. In what ways do these new movements serve the mission of the Church in Galveston-Houston?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: In a historical moment where there are parishes with thousands of families, the ecclesial communities really help foster a common Christian life and a sense of belonging. Here in the archdiocese we seem to have just about every movement imaginable.

The challenge is helping the movements foster an ecclesial sensibility -- which some already have -- without being controlling.

There are, of course, well-known movements such as Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, and Regnum Christi, but we are regularly learning about new movements from places like South America appearing in our diocese.

It is helpful for these groups make to themselves known to their local bishop so the bishop and movement can each assist the other’s particular charism and ecclesial vocation.

Q: Practically speaking, how does this change your relationship to your archdiocese and the universal Church? What responsibilities does your appointment entail?

Cardinal-designate DiNardo: Well, I’ve noticed a big decrease in the open slots on my schedule.

As far as particular responsibilities within the Roman Curia, the Holy See does not give those out prior to the consistory, so it’s anybody’s guess as to what congregations I’ll be appointed.

I do think my role will allow me to be a greater ambassador for needs and concerns of the local churches in the southern part of the United States.


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