Archbishop Dolan Lands in NYC

I have now watched the video of Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s sermon at his Installation Mass on Wednesday. What to say? Rarely have words and the moment met so perfectly. Not since Sean O’Malley took the pulpit at Holy Cross Cathedral at his installation in 2003 has the American Church experienced such a moment when the new guard disarms everyone and points the way forward to a more hopeful future.

"Everybody is somebody," said Dolan in the pithiest summation of Catholic teaching on the dignity and worth of the human person. I wish his audience had been quick to its feet when he mentioned serving the poor or helping the immigrant, but there was something moving about the way the congregation interrupted Dolan when he mentioned defending the unborn, the clapping grew, a few people stood and finally the entire congregation stood and applauded. In this culture, sadly, opposition to abortion has become seen as an almost uniquely Catholic issue. That fact speaks better of the Church than it does of the culture.

Advertisement

Dolan spoke with feeling to his new priests and immediately began the task of improving clerical morale which has still not recovered from the sex abuse crisis of 2002 and various other challenges. It is not only that Dolan said the right words, although he did. It is that he so clearly loves being a priest himself. Sometimes you will hear it said of a prelate that had he not been a bishop he would have made a great CEO or a fine politician. Whatever his administrative or political skills, it is impossible to think of Dolan as anything but a priest.

He mentioned both Father Michael Judge and Father Richard John Neuhaus, a linkage that might not make either of these deceased priests entirely comfortable but one entirely appropriate for the man who would have been bishop to them both. His reference to Dorothy Day and Pierre Toussaint, both on their way to the dignity of the altar, was oddly linked with Al Smith, whose cause for canonization is not likely to be introduced anytime soon. Yet, with the current Governor of New York sitting in the front pew, and issues of Church and State still reverberating, perhaps it was good of Dolan to remind us of the Happy Warrior’s devoted Catholicism.

Great though the sermon was, my favorite part of the day was before the Mass as the bishops filed into St. Patrick’s. Dolan left the procession and crossed the street to shake hands with some of New York’s finest and to wave to the crowds gathered along Fifth Avenue. It was if he can’t help himself. He can’t help reaching out to people. At a time when Catholics confront calls to re-ghettoize the Church and the category "former Catholics" ranks as the second largest religious designation in the country, we need this exuberant man who is so determined to reach out and so evidently in love with the Church. Archbishop Dolan is, you might say, really somebody.

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 7 months ago
Justin, The phrase "protest too much" mean anything to you?
8 years 7 months ago
The people are the church, Justin. let's get that straight. Responsible Christians have always demanded the best from their leaders. The clerical culture is coming to a slow end as the sacralization of the clergy is ending. Tim Dolan has to get high marks for engagement and a willingness to be the bishop of all. Neuhaus and Judge. At the same time we must keep in mind that the church must always reform itself and that means all of us. By our fruits we are known. Not by our assertions, clerical status of power.
8 years 7 months ago
Charismatic, charming, warm, personable, funny. . .Dolan may be all of this and more. But at the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, I hope Catholics, especially America readers, will take just 2-3 minutes and look beyond the superficial, and learn about Dolan's track record on the church's on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis. It ain't pretty. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/01_02/2009_02_18_Isely_ArchbishopDolans.htm David Clohessy National Director, SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests 7234 Arsenal Street St. Louis MO 63143 314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 [email protected] SNAPnetwork.org
8 years 7 months ago
To David Clohessy... It's Pope Benedict XVI selected Archbishop Dolan. You can blame him or the Holy Spirit who he prayed for this selection. This reminds me the instance when a television reporter asked the former Cardinal Ratzinger whether the Holy Spirit chose those bad Popes in the early days of the Church. Here's the answer from the former Cardinal, “I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope. ... I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.” David, have you ever taken ''a leap of faith'' in the Holy Spirit?
8 years 7 months ago
''In this culture, sadly, opposition to abortion has become seen as an almost uniquely Catholic issue.'' I think you may have that inside out. Opposition to abortion may be seen by ''our culture'' as Catholics' *only* issue, but I think all the other Christian denominations who vehemently oppose abortion would disagree that it's a ''uniquely Catholic issue.'' Didn't Sarah Palin just headline a big anti-abortion fundraiser last night? And she sure ain't Catholic!
8 years 7 months ago
"Skunk at a garden party"...that's a good way to put it. I've heard and read many articles and stories and interviews where Dolan forcefully spoke out against priest sexual abuse and also took to task the priests and bishops who hid the truth. Anyone who knows Archbishop Dolan knows that he doesn't hide from issues or controversies and that he is a good, holy man. All good and faithful Catholics believe this period of abuse was terrible, was sinful, was a deep wound to the Church, and irreparably harmed its victims. In fact, he helped heal and restore confidence in the hierarchy in Milwaukee, where the previous Archbishop sinned terribly and will receive his deserved judgment. No good Catholic disputes that mistakes were made, sins committed, and terrible injustices done. While some bishops truly deserve our scrutiny and our prayers for their souls in light of their terrible sins, you discredit your organization when you attack even the best and most holy bishops. This is the first I've ever heard of this. Funny that the mainstream press didn't pick up on it. Unfortunately for you and your organization, most devout, faithful Catholics who love the Church do not read America (either in print or online). Many dissident Catholics do read America quite regularly, however. So, I'm sure you'll get your message across to many Catholics who already hate the Church, are on their way out of the Church, or who are technically in the Church but don't go to weekly mass, don't follow Church teachings, and are nominal or cultural Catholics at best. America is lucky some Catholic websites like InsideCatholic.com link to some of their articles. Otherwise, many faithful Catholics like me would never come anywhere near this website and its many writers, readers and commenters who don't hide their disdain and hatred for many traditional Church teachings (almost to the point of hating the Catholic Church itself).
8 years 7 months ago
I'm curious how Dolan will "reach out" to the MANY LGBT Catholics in his Archdiocese. So far, not so well: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/04/16/2009-04-16_gov_paterson_introduces_legislation_to_legalize_gay_marriage_in_new_york.html
8 years 7 months ago
Justin, I wonder if you are overstating the case. I am an America reader who does not hate the Church or its teachings, who attends Mass weekly and daily when possible, who is active in his parish. I am surely flawed, but I don't fit your picture of readers of this magazine and site, and I'm sure there are lots of other regular readers who also are quite different from your depiction. I am pretty sure that the readership is more varied (and probably much more orthodox) than your comments might suggest. And I'm certain that there are many faithful Catholics in both the "conservative" and "liberal" wings of the church, and many others to whom those overused labels cannot really apply. Peace.
8 years 7 months ago
Mr. Dublikar: “…most devout, faithful Catholics who love the Church do not read America (either in print or online). Many dissident Catholics do read America quite regularly, however. So, I'm sure you'll get your message across to many Catholics who already hate the Church, are on their way out of the Church, or who are technically in the Church but don't go to weekly mass, don't follow Church teachings, and are nominal or cultural Catholics at best” Wow-- you forgot to wish the magazine a happy 100th birthday while you chose to ''damn the magazine (and most especially its readers ) with faint praise.'' An honest correspondent would note that ''most Catholics'' get the majority of their news on the church from the broad print and broadcast media and not from the local diocesan newspaper or America or NCR or SSPX or PreVatican1Church.com or whatever it is you look at for insular Catholic viewpoints. I have read this magazine for 29 years. I have often agreed, and have also disagreed at times in writing ( Mr. Winters can vouch for the latter ) More often this magazine and its writers and its editors have challenged my understanding of the church and the world and caused me to rethink how I viewed both in light of Christ and his church. Certainly in 29 years this magazine and its very human writers and editors have made some mistakes. On no occasion, can I recall believing this magazine being guided by anything but a sincere love of the world, the nation, all humanity and especially the Church and yes that includes the magisterium. Please take your baseless slander of this magazine’s editors and readers elsewhere.
8 years 7 months ago
Justin (#4), Actually, you are wrong. A lot of us who love and work for the Church, go to Mass, know our priests and bishops and ordinaries, keep abreast of the Church both in the U.S. and abroad, and regularly read what the Pope and Vatican officials have to say to Catholics worldwide also read America magazine (and its blogs) regularly. There are many voices in our universal Church -- and I thank God daily for that.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

James Comey is perhaps a better Niebuhrian than Niebuhr himself.
Drew Christiansen, S.J.November 20, 2017
“Not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable.”
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 20, 2017
I have been trying with all my heart—with all my mind, with all my soul, to live peaceably with a terror that has been grafted onto me.
Robert I. CraigNovember 20, 2017
Image: iStock, (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA) Composite: America
What ought to be the Ignatian contribution to the fight for racial justice, given our mission and our values?
Bryan N. MassingaleNovember 20, 2017