"I will be the first former Archbishop of San Francisco to have the privilege and solemn duty. To exercise it well I rely on the prayers of all the faithful of the church. I also ask the prayers of my brothers and sisters in other Christian communities. Jesus has assured us that the prayers we pray to God will receive a response. I ask as well the good will and prayers of the whole community with this important moment in the history of the Catholic Church," said Levada.

Seminarians, priests, faculty and staff attended the press conference--the first conference to be held at St Patrick's since February 1999--when Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict, addressed the media.

Cardinal Levada, who lives part time in a residence on the St Patrick's campus, left for Rome today.