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Cardinal-Designate O’Brien Speaks About What’s Next For Baltimore Parishes

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The leader of Baltimore’s Archdiocese is now weeks away from becoming cardinal. Wednesday marks the first public appearance of Edwin O’Brien in Baltimore since the announcement from the pope.

Mary Bubala has more.

Fresh in from Rome, Cardinal-designate Edwin O’Brien held a news conference in Baltimore. He was surrounded by portraits of Baltimore archbishops who have risen to the position of cardinal like he is about to.

“It’s just nice to be in a hall of fame like this,” O’Brien said.

On Jan. 6, he was in Rome when Pope Benedict made the announcement.

“He went through a list of 22 names and my name was No. 8. It was exciting,” he said.

O’Brien’s short tenure in Baltimore was sometimes controversial. He closed Catholic schools with loss enrollment, and Wednesday, he addressed another controversial issue — same-sex marriage.

“Thirty states where legislatures have passed this, the people’s vote has voided it, has knocked it down,” he said. “And we have every reason to believe that we have a strong grassroots coalition here that will uphold the sanctity of marriage.”

O’Brien’s successor should be named in the next two to three weeks. He says the next leader of the Baltimore Archdiocese must focus on increasing the number of local priests and nuns, and to continue the difficult task of consolidating parishes with dwindling populations.

“If we are going to keep strong parish life, vibrant parish life, we have to make sure that we aren’t struggling along with churches half-filled and wondering what’s going to happen tomorrow,” he said.

O’Brien leaves Baltimore Wednesday night for a special mission to Haiti. He then goes to Rome for the ceremony on Feb. 18 where he will officially become a cardinal and get his red hat.

He will return to Baltimore in March to lead his first mass as cardinal at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

O’Brien is the 15th archbishop of Baltimore. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in August. He has served in the caretaker role of apostolic administrator in Baltimore since then.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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