Pope Benedict XVI is elevating Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington to cardinal, the Vatican announced Wednesday.

Wuerl, 69, was one of 24 men named by Benedict to the College of Cardinals at the conclusion of his weekly general audience. Following the ceremony, known as a consistory, next month at the Vatican to elevate the new cardinals, Wuerl will serve as an advisor to the pope and be eligible to vote in papal elections until his 80th birthday.

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The Archdiocese of Washington includes the capital and five Maryland counties: Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's.

"This truly is an honor for the Archdiocese of Washington, the Church in the nation's capital, and for all of the clergy, religious and parishioners of this local Church who every day live out their faith in commitment and deep love for Christ," Wuehrl said in a statement. "I am humbled by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's trust in me as shepherd of this flock and pledge to him my renewed fidelity, affection and loyalty."

Wuerl is the fifth Archbishop of Washington elevated to cardinal since the archdiocese was created out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The others were Patrick A. O'Boyle, William W. Baum, James A. Hickey and Theodore E. McCarrick.Wuerl joined the archdiocese in 2006 after 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh. In 2008, he hosted Benedict during the pope's visit to Washington. Last month, he released Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision, a pastoral letter calling upon Catholics to renew their faith as part of a new evangelization. Earlier this week, he announced the archdiocese will open a new seminary next fall to accommodate an increase in the number of seminarians in college and pre-theology studies.

A native of Pittsburgh, he received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, Gregorian University in Rome and the University of St. Thomas in Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology in 1974. Ordained to the priesthood in 1966, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986 and will celebrate his 25th anniversary as a bishop in January.

Wuerl is chancellor of The Catholic University of America, where I teach an undergraduate journalism course as a part-time lecturer.

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