Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Introduction of Cardinal McCarrick in Rome
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj: Ballroom
May 10, 2007
As we officially close our work in Rome, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Board of Directors’ Chairman, Ed Villani—and all the Members of our Board—for your dedicated leadership; your distinguished service; your generosity in so many forms—and for the valuable insights and ideas you provided during our meetings here. Your contributions to Georgetown—and the Georgetown experience—are incalculable, and on behalf of our entire community: Thank you.
Being here with you in this extraordinary palace—in this extraordinary gallery with its many paintings celebrating both art and faith—I was reminded of the words of the late Pope John Paul II in his 1999 Letter to Artists. He wrote of the “fruitful dialogue between the Church and artists which has gone on unbroken through two thousand years of history, and which still…offers rich promise for the future.
John Paul recognized the work of artists as an important service to truth and beauty—and therefore goodness. He understood that if we look at great masterpieces not simply through the prism of art, but through the prism of faith, we will see the talents, skills, and abilities of artists that are tangible manifestations of God’s gifts—expressions of God’s love that we can all share and admire. And he knew that artistic endeavors, again in his own words, “make perceptible…the world of the spirit; of the invisible—of God.
Perhaps no where is this connection between art and faith stronger than in Rome. More than any other place, it is a city that exists in spirit as much as in stone. Because wherever we look, we see in the great churches, monuments, and galleries of the Eternal City the tangible evidence of two millennium of faith…of the history of the Catholic Church…of the essence of Christianity. No wonder Lord Byron once called Rome, “the city of the soul!”
This city of the soul…of the spirit…of faith, also speaks to the Church’s two thousand year heritage of service—in keeping with the Gospel message. Someone who personifies that heritage of service—and who has left behind so much tangible evidence of his work for the Church and for others—is our distinguished guest speaker this evening, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, DC.
Cardinal McCarrick is especially well known for his work on international human rights and religious freedom. He has traveled on diplomatic missions on behalf of the Church to nations such as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Eastern Europe, always advocating human rights with strong words and unyielding principles. He served on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from former President Bill Clinton.
Cardinal McCarrick has led the bishops’ committees on such urgent social issues as migration, international policy, and assistance for the church in Central and Eastern Europe. As a tireless leader to help the poor and disenfranchised, he has sought justice and promoted peace. He has also worked ceaselessly to promote dialogue among different faiths in the interest of international understanding. For example, just last week, he agreed to assist Georgetown in our development of a dialogue with Evangelicals on the common good.
Cardinal McCarrick was ordained a priest in New York in 1958. After receiving a PhD in sociology from the Catholic University of America—and serving as assistant chaplain, dean of students, and director of development there—he became President of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, in Ponce.
After serving as Auxiliary Bishop of New York; Bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey; and Archbishop of Newark, he was installed as Archbishop of Washington in January 2001. Just seven weeks after his installation, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals. During his five years leading the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick placed special emphasis on three areas: education; vocations; and the needs of new immigrants, particularly in the Latino community.
Even after retiring from his position as Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick continues to assist the church—and others—with integrity, dedication, generosity, and compassion. He remains President of the Papal Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Catholic Relief Services. He also sits on a number of Pontifical Councils, including the Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
We are especially privileged to be able to call Cardinal McCarrick a member of our family. Over the past six years, he visited Georgetown many times to attend lectures, meetings, Masses, and other events. And in 2004, we recognized his contributions to Georgetown, to the Archdiocese, and to the entire Washington Community, by presenting him with an honorary degree.
There is so much more that could be said about Cardinal McCarrick—about his many honors, his tireless work, his dedication to the many organizations and committees in which he has participated—but the common thread that runs through everything, as I said earlier, is simply one of exceptional service: service to the Church and the global community.
It is now my pleasure to introduce a great spiritual leader; an international advocate for peace and justice; a respected educator—and a man of service: Theodore Cardinal McCarrick….
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…Thank you Cardinal McCarrick for those thoughtful and insightful remarks. I’m reminded that John Paul II, in that Letter to Artists, wrote that “all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: In a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.” Cardinal McCarrick, you have certainly done this.
Like the great artists represented in his gallery, you have also used your skills, talents and abilities to enhance the human condition and to glorify God. And I have no doubt that the footprints you leave behind will be as lasting—and inspirational—as the legacy of great art displayed in this magnificent palace.
On behalf of the Georgetown family—for your sustained engagement with us and for your service and dedication to the entire Washington community—I’d like to present you with this gift as a token of our appreciation and respect.
I would now also ask all of you to join me in a toast. Your Eminence, we offer our deepest gratitude for your support of Georgetown, and for all you work. Wherever the poor suffer; wherever war wages; wherever intolerance breeds hatred and division; and wherever rights are denied and religion persecuted, you have sought to make a difference. For that, we thank you, and the human family thanks you.