When Benedict met Shirley

Cardinal Dolan took his mother to meet the pope yesterday:

Capping a whirlwind nine-day trip with a final visit to the Vatican, Timothy Cardinal Dolan introduced his 84-year-old mom to Pope Benedict XVI yesterday — then jokingly asked the pontiff if he could make her “the first lady of the College of Cardinals.”

Amid cheers and applause, Dolan walked his mom, Shirley, up to the stage to greet his boss during a papal audience before an enthusiastic crowd inside the Paul VI Hall.

“Holy Father, here is my mom!” Dolan said he told the pope.

Unable to resist the temptation to make a joke, Dolan, 62, pointed out that he’s one of the few princes of the church young enough and lucky enough to still have his mother alive.

“I asked him if he would declare her the first lady of the College of Cardinals,” he said.

Dolan recounted that the pope, who turns 85 in April, then paid his mom the ultimate compliment, telling her, “You look too young to be the mother of a cardinal.”

The cardinal said his mom — showing that a quick wit is a family trait — shot back, “Holy Father, was that an infallible statement?”

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