Cardinal Wuerl addresses grads during Duquesne commencement

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Taking his words from the History Channel hit "The Bible," rather than directly from scripture, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., told 1,592 graduates of Duquesne University that Jesus' followers were called to change the world.

"At this commencement I ask you never to accept less. Always recognize in your heart that you ... have the possibility to change the world," said the cardinal, a Pittsburgh native who was bishop here for 18 years before becoming archbishop of Washington in 2006. He had taught theology at Duquesne while he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

To be able to change the world for good requires a strong relationship with the God who created it, he said.

"Science and technology have brought mankind enormous progress, but science and technology by themselves aren't going to answer all our problems," he said. "Grounded in the material, they ultimately do not provide the hope that we need. Science without ethics, art without spirituality, technology without human moral values, materiality without transcendence, all remain branches in search of a vine. ... All of the branches have to be connected to the vine of truth. And this includes not just science and technology. Truth includes the word of God."

Duquesne president Charles Dougherty continued that theme in his address to the graduates. "As we have served God by serving you, so you should serve God by serving others," he said.

An honorary doctorate was awarded to Margaret V. McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. She founded Seeking Educational Equality and Diversity, which helps teachers create climates, find curricula and use cross-cultural methods that appeal to girls as well as boys.

A doctorate in education was presented posthumously to Sylvester Pace, a Penn Hills man who was 58 when he died in June of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. His widow, Rhonda Pace, accepted it for him. Mr. Pace had dedicated his life to helping thousands of disadvantaged black youths from Pittsburgh obtain college scholarships. He had grown up in public housing in the Hill District and received a scholarship to Cheyney University from the Negro Educational Emergency Drive, a Pittsburgh foundation now known only as NEED.

In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said he has been back to Rome twice since participating in the election of Pope Francis in March. One was for a meeting of a Vatican department that he has a vote in, another was as leader of a national delegation of 120 donors to a foundation that raises money for the pope to give to the poor.

Pope Francis has continued with a very humble, personal and humorous style, he said. At the Papal Foundation meeting the cardinal was supposed to give a short speech before the pope gave a short speech. The pope arrived late, took Cardinal Wuerl aside and said, "If you don't give your speech, then I don't have to give my speech. That way I can greet everyone. Isn't that what you want?"

They both laughed, and skipped the speeches.

"It's a sign of his understanding that you don't need all the formality to get the work done," he said.

The pope also invited him to his apartment at the House of St. Martha, the relatively humble residence that he chose over the enormous, ornate papal apartments.

"He's probably giving the staff in charge of his schedule apoplexy, but I hope it can continue," Cardinal Wuerl said.

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Ann Rodgers: or 412-263-1416. First Published May 3, 2013 11:45 PM


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