01/06/2012 11:43 am ET

Archbishop Timothy Dolan Named A Cardinal

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The vatican announced the appointment of 22 new cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, including the appointment of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York who presides over roughly 2.6 million Catholics in Manhattan, the Bronx, and surrounding suburban areas.

Dolan, who became the Archbishop of New York in February of 2009, will join the ranks as one of the Pope's closest advisers. Dolan is one of the 18 out of the 22 newly named cardinals who will be able to participate in the private conclave to elect a new pope.

During a news conference following a Friday morning Mass, the 61-year old, Dolan said he was "honored, humbled, and grateful" to be named a cardinal:

It's as if Pope Benedict is putting the red hat on top of the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, or on home plate at Yankee Stadium; or on the spires of Saint Patrick's Cathedral or any of our other parish churches.

Dolan is widely considered the nation's top ranking bishop and has often dipped into controversial political waters, most notably with his polarizing views on gay marriage.

Last September, Dolan wrote a stern letter to President Obama warning that his policies could potentially "precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions."

Dolan has gone further by describing gay marriage as a product of "Orwellian social engineering," belittling gay rights as a "chic cause."

In a 60 Minutes interview, Dolan likened the desire for a man to marry of the same sex to Dolan's own desires to "play shortstop for the Yankees," and that a a mere desire did not warrant one to do so because they "don't have the right" to do so.

As the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan has acknowledged the growing number of members leaving the Catholic church, noting the ideological and social differences that exist amongst the 65 million Catholics in the United States.

The formal ceremony is scheduled for February 18th at the Vatican in Rome.