Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Get to Know Your Papabile: Timothy Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan (American, 63) Currently the Archbishop of New York, Tim Dolan is originally the eldest of five born to an aircraft engineer and a house wife in St. Louis, Missouri. He wanted to be a priest from an early age -- "I can never remember a time I didn't want to be a priest," he once said in an interview.

Before coming to New York Dolan served as Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002-2009. Dolan was known for his passion for vocation promotion and his great sense of humor. (Wikipedia reports that in Sept 2002 he wore a cheesehead hat in honor of the Green Bay Packers during a homily.) During his tenure over 100 archdiocesan employees were accused of past sexual abuse. In 2012 it was revealed that Dolan offered sexually abusive priests payoffs of up to $20000 to get them to leave the priesthood so that the Church could remove them from their payroll.

As Archbishop of New York Dolan was elected president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, a position from which he represented the Church's interests strongly in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, even offering prayers at both the Democratic and Republican Conventions.

Hasn't spent much time outside the United States anywhere other than Italy for 7 years at the North American College. Not an administrator first and foremost, but a pastor, which means the Curia could pose a problem.

The long-time word on the street has been that an American will never be Pope, or at least not as long as the United States functions as a 'super power' on the world stage.

There's wisdom in that point of view. The last thing the Church needs is any sort of conflation of its own ways and purpose with the United States. And Dolan embodies many of the American traits behind this point of view, most specifically the fact that when he walks in he fills the room. As Allen writes, "If they elect Dolan the other 5,000 bishops of the world might as well take the next 15 years off, because they'll never be seen or heard from again." John Paul did this to them for 25+ years. Would they want to go that way again?

And yet, the Church being in the state it is, a betting person would be a fool to rule Dolan out. He's energetic, incredibly likable, the kind of easy going guy people can see sitting down with for a beer, a hot dog or anything else. He's got a great sense of humor, doesn't seem to get too ruffled by conflicts. Definitely conservative, but doesn't wear it on his sleeve. Allen calls him "evangelization on steroids." Pope Benedict praised his February 2012 talk before the College of Cardinals as "enthusiastic, joyful and profound." And John Allen reported yesterday that Dolan had strong support going into the Conclave. So stay tuned...

Quotes from Cardinal Dolan:
"Maybe the greatest threat to the church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms."

"This is the time we priests need to be renewing our pledge to celibacy, not questioning it. The problems in the church today are not caused by the teachings of Jesus and of his church, but by lack of fidelity to them." 

"Yes, the Church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective 'mamma bear' when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened. Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny. Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. That is why the Church reaches out to the unborn, the suffering, the poor, our elders, the physically and emotionally challenged, those caught in the web of addictions."

If he's Elected He Might Choose the Name: John Paul III. I'd say it's a sure bet, except that he has such great reverence for John Paul II he might think himself unworthy.

If He's Not Elected Pope, He Could: Play Spanky in the Adult Reunion of Our Gang.

In the Movie he'd be played by: John Goodman

It's the Smile. 

Why The Cardinals Might Choose Him: Enormous charisma. Theologically conservative. A fresh take on things.

Why They Might Not: Whiff of Problems in the way he handled sexual abuse problems in Milwaukee. Not an administrator. Could be another 20 year pontificate.

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