A new Archbishop for Washington DC was named on Wednesday: Archbishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick of Newark succeeds Cardinal James A Hickey, who is 80 and unwell. Archbishop McCarrick is already known in the White House as an advocate for debt relief for poor countries; at the State Department, which named him to a commission on international religious freedom; and in Congress; as a supporter of immigrants; and an opponent of abortion and contraception. R Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Centre for the Study of American Catholicism, at the University of Notre Dame, said: "It makes perfect sense for him to be in Washington, where he's already well known, well respected and quite accomplished as a person who understands the way the government works, especially on international questions." However, some experts have expressed surprise at the appointment, because Archbishop McCarrick is 70 and, like all bishops, will be required to submit his resignation at 75 - although he could serve longer at the Pope's discretion. Critics also point out that this is the second time this year the Pope has overlooked the ranks of younger American bishops in making an appointment. Edward M Egan of Bridgeport, Conn., who is 68, was named archbishop of New York. At a news conference attended by both prelates on Thursday, Cardinal Hickey said: "From my perspective, Archbishop McCarrick is a young man. He's only 70! And when you observe his amazing energy, you'll agree with my assessment. He will serve this archdiocese with great dedication and effectiveness." Archbishop McCarrick will be installed in Washington on 3 and 4 January. He is said to be a tireless fundraiser and an effective promoter of religious vocations. In the last 13 years, he has ordained 200 new priests. At the Washington news conference, he said his typical work day began at 5am and ended at 11pm. He said: "I am still a workaholic, and thank God I am strong enough to keep working hard. I wish I were a holier man, more prayerful, more trusting in God, wiser and courageous. But here I am, with all my faults and all my needs, and we will work together. "My first goal," he said, "is to get to know the priests, get to know the parishes, get to know the people." Archbishop McCarrick has been described as conservative on issues of sexuality and morality, and liberal on social justice issues like poverty and immigration. "I certainly believe the church cannot be authentic unless it takes care of the poor, the newcomers, the needy," he said. "On the other hand, the church cannot be authentic if it is not truthful to its teaching." Archbishop McCarrick grew up in New York City during the Depression. His father, a sea captain, died of tuberculosis when he was a child. His mother worked in a Bronx car factory. He served as an alter boy at the Church of the Incarnation in Washington Heights, where he came to admire the priests who stayed up all hours serving the people. After attending Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University, he studied for the priesthood at St Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, where he earned a BA and a master's degree in history. He also has a PhD in sociology from Catholic University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York. His first assignment was in Washington, as assistant chaplain at the Catholic University. After that, he served in Puerto Rico at the Catholic University, from 1965 to 1969. Back in New York, he was appointed vicar of East Manhattan and Harlem, associate secretary for education and secretary to Cardinal Terence Cooke. In 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of the new diocese of Metuchen, N.J. The Pope named him archbishop of Newark in 1986 and, at his invitation, celebrated Mass in Newark while on a visit to the New York area in 1995. Archbishop McCarrick has served as chairman of committees on migration, international policy and aid for the church in Central and Eastern Europe at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Widely travelled, he speaks five languages. In 1992, he led a delegation of Catholic leaders to Bosnia, and described what he saw as "reminiscent of the Holocaust". In 1997, he travelled to Switzerland to talk with leaders there about their nation's history as a banker for Nazi assets stolen from Holocaust victims. In 1988, he went to Cuba to appeal for for more religious freedoms. He has also travelled to Rwanda and China.
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