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Christmas Mass Has Special Significance This Year

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Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrates his first Christmas as a cardinal on Saturday.
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Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrates his first Christmas as a cardinal on Saturday.

About 4,500 to 5,000 people are expected to attend mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington Saturday afternoon. It's a particularly special event for the local Catholic community.

This is the first year Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, will celebrate Christmas as a cardinal. Washington Diocese Spokeswoman Susan Gibbs says that means a few things.

"It'll seem the same to most people except he's in red now, so it's very much with the season," she says.

Of course, there's more to it than that.

"There's only 203 cardinals in the entire world, and when you have a billion people in your church, that's pretty significant. So this is a time when people are kind of looking more closely at what he's saying, and he has an opportunity really to talk more broadly about the true meaning of Christmas," Gibbs says.

After mass, the cardinal will join volunteers serving free Christmas dinners to more than 1,400 people alone or in need.

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