We Catholics here in the United States are currently blessed with an abundance of fine bishops and archbishops, many of whom would undoubtedly make good cardinals. However, there are two high-profile archbishops now offering exemplary service to the Church in this country who, in this layman's opinion, stand out as particularly deserving candidates for the honor and responsibility of the cardinalate. Their unwavering fidelity to the Magisterium, combined with their ability to clearly articulate and defend the Church's teachings and natural law principles both in the pulpit and the public square and their track record as successful and experienced pastors, would seem to render them fit to join the College of Cardinals, the elite inner circle of the Pope's most trusted advisors and collaborators. They are Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.
I actually think Archbishop Chaput is a little overdue to be named a cardinal, since he has been serving the Church so well for so long. He was archbishop of Denver for a number of years before Pope Benedict moved him to Philly, where he has successfully tackled the challenge of cleaning up the aftermath of the priestly sexual abuse scandal and handling the resulting financial strain on that archdiocese. Meanwhile, he has preached the Gospel faithfully to his flock and written columns for both the archdiocesan and secular newspapers in defense of religious liberty and the right to life of the unborn. He knows how to speak the truth in a charitable way, whether he's talking to fellow Catholics or engaging the secular culture. The upcoming World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Philadelphia this September, should allow Pope Francis to observe Archbishop Chaput's leadership qualities firsthand, and hopefully this will lead to his being named a cardinal in the near future.
When compared to Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Cordileone may seem a less obvious candidate for the cardinalate, given that he is somewhat younger and less experienced than the former. However, his credentials as a potential cardinal are no less impeccable. In a cosmopolitan West Coast city known for rampant radical secularism, his steadfast adherence to Catholic teaching and joyful witness of the Gospel shine all the brighter. He is a supporter of and participant in the annual Walk for Life, which is now the second largest pro-life demonstration in the nation; he has also participated in the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Unjust criticism from a handful of Catholics and radical secularists unhappy with his public defense of traditional marriage and his efforts to keep Catholic schools teaching orthodox doctrine in his archdiocese has only served to highlight the fact that this is a true leader who possesses the courage of his convictions. In my opinion, Archbishop Cordileone would make a fine cardinal.
Of course, it is up to Pope Francis to decide which, if any, American bishops or archbishops will be given the red hat and thus join the upper echelon of Church government. The broad field of the contemporary U.S. hierarchy offers dozens of excellent candidates for the honorable position of being one of the Pope's men. But if I had to name two archbishops in this country whom I sincerely and with good reason considered worthy to join the ranks of the Curia, my personal choices would be Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Cordileone.