A group of LGBT Catholics and their allies will attend the 10:15AM Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Sunday with a unique visual marker: their hands will be covered in charcoal. Their purpose? Responding visually to a blog post the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, penned last week in which, they say, LGBT people were called dirty and compared to alcoholics.
I spoke to Joseph Amodeo, an organizer of the event, who said he felt like a victim of “spiritual bullying” after reading Dolan’s post. The Cardinal, who is also president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, relayed a story from his childhood, describing how his parents welcomed a playmate to stay for supper, but only after washing up, per house rules. Dolan was attempting to explain how the Catholic Church welcomes all people, but with certain conditions. Regarding LGBT Catholics, he wrote:
The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction…while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God’s teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage.
“I don’t see where he actually said ‘you’re welcome.’ It’s always with an asterisk, which is not a welcome at all,” Amodeo said. “We, as gay Catholics, are homeless in a spiritual sense and we’re seeking a home. It’s the ‘welcome, but’ that’s hurting people.”
He said that while a change in Catholic theology about homosexuality remains a dream, he and fellow organizers, including Nicholas Coppola, a gay man who made headlines last month after his bishop removed him from lay parish ministry, “want the Cardinal to see we’re not an oversexed population, but people of God just as committed to our church as others. The goal is to have the church see us, to listen to us. There’s a lack of understanding about who we are as gay people.”
Francis DeBernadro, executive director of New Ways Ministry, agreed with Amodeo, writing on his blog, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t find this notion to be welcoming at all. I find it condescending.”
The protest comes in the wake of comments made by Most Rev. Thomas Tobin, the bishop of Providence, who lamented Rhode Island’s recent same-sex marriage legalization. In a letter being described by some as divisive, Tobin called same-sex marriage a “serious regression in the public morality” of Rhode Island. He said the that Catholics are not “free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior.” Catholics attending same-sex ceremonies, he wrote, “might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.”
Recent polls continue to show lay Catholics leading the pack when it comes to support for marriage equality.
In addition to making artisanal pickles, rocking out to vinyl records and riding their precious fixie bikes, hipsters could make going to Catholic mass their new signature hobby. At least, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn hopes so.
Since the beginning of April, the organization has put up ads reading “The Original Hipster,” depicting a robed man wearing red Converse sneakers, throughout the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn — including the dive bars and coffee shops of Williamsburg, widely considered the Holy Land of East Coast hipsterdom. The blog Animal New York first noticed the campaign plastered on bus stations and phone booths and tweeted a photo. Then The Huffington Post, CBS New York, and CNN picked it up, and the image started going viral. (As Salon joked, the next thing we’ll see is a Cardinal Timothy Dolan cameo on Girls.)
But note that the ad doesn’t actually mention Jesus anywhere. “Everyone just assumes that we were talking about Jesus and that shows religious conversation is a part of our everyday discussions for all people, no matter who you are, no matter where you’re coming from,” Monsignor Kieran E. Harrington, the Diocese’s Vicar for Communications, tells TIME.
The ad is part of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s latest attempt to encourage more young people to attend church. “You can be a hipster in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and be a faithful, good Christian,” Harrington says. “There are a lot of different depictions of Jesus. If you go to Asia, you will see depictions of Jesus as an Asian, and if you go to Latin America, you will see depictions that are very reminiscent of a Latin American.” Thus, maybe the “counter-cultural” people in Williamsburg may see in this Converse-clad Savior a little bit of themselves. “Jesus went to the highways and the byways, and we’re going to bars, restaurants, gyms, to get the message out.”
The Vatican has been consciously trying to reach out to Catholics on social media for a while, for example, through the Pope’s Twitter account, @Pontifex, which boasts more than 2.4 million followers. The social media interns who manage the Church’s social media accounts even got their own fifteen minutes of fame earlier this year during Pope Francis’s ascension.
Laypeople are also trying to use viral memes to reach the young, with varying results: for example, the site CatholicMemes.com, which generates religion-themed photo memes and GIFs; its Facebook group boasts more than 85,000 fans, while another has more than 21,000.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York made headlines on Easter Sunday morning during an interview with George Stephanopoulos when he professed his love for gays and lesbians, saying:
“Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And — and we — we want your happiness. But — and you’re entitled to friendship.’”
I’m getting weary of bishops and cardinals who tell me how much they love my gay and lesbian friends and I, while at the same time willfully misunderstanding us, refusing to talk to us and devaluing our relationships. (I would include my transgender friends here, but no hierarch, to my knowledge, has even uttered the “T” word yet.)
Dolan has claimed to love gay people before. Back in June 2011, on the Sunday following the historic passage of marriage equality (which by coincidence was also the day of the NYC gay pride parade) he told the press inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral:
“To the gay community, I love you very much. If anything I ever said or did would lead you to believe that I have anything less than love or respect for you, I apologize.”
Dolan said this just three months after his infamous interview with “60 Minutes” where he likened same-sex marriage to incest, saying, “I love my mom, but I don’t have a right to marry her.”
As he spoke to the press that Pride Sunday, just outside the cathedral doors stood dozens of Catholic LGBT people and their allies in a peaceful act of witness and a call for dialogue with the institutional church. The witness is an annual event organized by members of the New York City chapter of Dignity USA, and it has gone on for decades. Dolan knew they were outside, but like every archbishop before him, he refused to engage with those gathered.
I didn’t believe Dolan’s profession of love back then, and I am no more convinced since Easter Sunday. When Stephanopoulos pressed Dolan to articulate how he could push an agenda against marriage equality without seeming anti-gay, Dolan appeared baffled (one of his standard rhetorical devices), saying:
“Well, I don’t know. We’re still — we’re — we’re trying. We’re trying our best to do it. We got to listen to people …”
Apparently, for Dolan, “trying our best” in 2012 looked something like this:
- Co-signing an anti-marriage equality document with some of the most vociferous anti-gay leaders of Evangelical churches.
- Refusing to respond to a letter and petition written by Joseph Amodeo, a former member of the junior board of Catholic Charities of the New York archdiocese, pleading with Dolan to meet with LGBT homeless youth, many of whom were thrown out of their homes by religious parents. Amodeo later resigned from the board, without public reaction from Dolan.
- Failing to speak out when his brother bishops and priests turn the Eucharist into a political weapon, denying communion to LGBT people and those who support marriage equality.
Given the harm of the recent past, it is understandable that Dolan’s head-scratching felt a bit disingenuous to many Catholic gays and lesbians.
Of course, Dolan isn’t the only hierarch claiming to love gays and lesbians while also simultaneously working to ensure that they do not receive equal rights under the law. When Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was named to his current post in San Francisco, he declared in his first press conference:
“The challenge for us in the church is to help people who are in a situation of a sexual orientation where they feel alienated from the church and sometimes experience it very directly. We need to continue to learn how to be welcoming, let them know that we love them and we want to help them.”
Cordileone made this statement in the wake of his years of intensive organizing against marriage equality in California, which earned him the dubious title “Father of Proposition 8.”
Cordileone further demonstrated his perverse notion of love this past Holy Thursday when he literally created a sign of division on the San Francisco archdiocese’s Facebook page.
The archbishop and his communications team posted a graphic of a white division sign and the citation “Luke 12:51” on a red square. (Luke 12:51 is the verse in which Jesus says, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”)
The symbol was intended to mock an image, created by the Human Rights Campaign (a gay rights group), that depicts a white equal sign on a red square. The group encouraged supporters of marriage equality to use the symbol as their Facebook avatar while the Supreme Court heard arguments on issues related to same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Cordileone’s divisive post was reportedly deleted after eliciting more than 350 angry responses on the archdiocese’s Facebook page.
Much as Cordileone’s Holy Thursday message offends me, at some level I appreciate his graphically transparent depiction of his
beliefs. Dolan, on the other hand, seems to want to ride the waves of good vibes being felt by Catholics and non-Catholics worldwide in response to Pope Francis’ recent series of humble and inclusive acts.
But for all of his radical reaching out to the margins, less than three years ago, the new pope himself had less-than-loving words for gay and lesbian couples seeking equal rights. In a strongly-worded letter to a group of Benedictine nuns, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio wrote:
“Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God… Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.”
While it may be true that Dolan, Cordileone and even the new pope are seeking a more pastoral approach to gays and lesbians, I really wish that they would stop calling it love.
Love does not ignore letters pleading for dialogue and reconciliation.
Love does not turn away spiritually hungry people from God’s Eucharistic table.
Love does not use spiritually violent rhetoric against a marginalized community’s fight for justice.
When we love another person, we genuinely desire to know her or him. When we love, we long to listen to the beloved and to learn his or her story. To love in this way, we must be authentically present to the beloved. This kind of love is risky because it demands vulnerability on the parts of both the lover and the beloved.
If members of the hierarchy took the risk of truly listening to gay and lesbian couples, they might find, as the majority of U.S. Catholics have, that many of these couples equally embody the faithfulness, devotion, sacrifice and fruitfulness that characterize the best heterosexual relationships.
They might open themselves up to the possibility that God is speaking new truths through the voices and lives of gay and lesbian couples and transgender persons. They might see that not only are same-sex couples entitled to equal rights and protection, they have as much potential to honor the institution of marriage as opposite-sex couples.
But that quality of listening requires true presence and vulnerability. For now, men like Dolan and Cordileone continue to insist that gays and lesbians do not know the truth about themselves and their relationships. They contend that the institutional church’s understanding of gays and lesbians is based on absolute truth, and they tell gays and lesbians that their own self-understanding is based not on truth, but on personal opinion, whim or caprice.
So, until Dolan, Cordileone and their fellow prelates are willing to offer gays, lesbians and transgender persons mutual dialogue, deep listening and authentic presence, I respectfully ask that they stop telling us they love us.
Call it politeness, or civility or an attempt at tolerance, but please don’t call it love.
[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA).]
Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Jamie Manson’s column, “Grace on the Margins,” is posted to NCRonline.org. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.
Hailing from Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio – now Pope Francis, is known as a humble man who forgoes a chauffeur to take the bus to work. As the first Jesuit pope, it’s expected Francis will encourage priests to evangelize, educating others in the Catholic faith. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports
VATICAN CITY — Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years on Wednesday, signaling the beginning of a new era for a church combating scandal and internal strife.
Described as a conservative with “great compassion,” the 76-year-old will be known as His Holiness Pope Francis. He will be installed at the Vatican on Tuesday.
The new pontiff named himself after the humble Catholic friar St. Francis of Assisi. President Barack Obama hailed the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics as a “champion of the poor.”
The first Latin American pope was introduced from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
There was an audible gasp from the rain-soaked crowd – an indication that he had not been a widely tipped choice – followed by a roar and wild applause.
In Italian, he seemed to address his outsider status by joking: “As you know the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world.”
Newly-elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio speaks to St. Peter’s Square and delivers a blessing after being elected as Pope Francis I.
“Pray for me and I will see you soon,” he added, asking Catholics to also pray for his predecessor Benedict XVI, who abdicated on Feb. 28. “Have a good evening and rest well.”
His first act on Thursday will be to visit his predecessor, the Pope Emeritus, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told reporters later.
A vocal advocate for Argentina’s poor during the economic crises that struck the country during the 1970s, Francis is the first Jesuit pope.
Known for his humility, Francis is the son of a railway worker and one of five siblings. He has a chemistry degree.
Francis has only one fully-functioning lung, the other having been partially removed due to an infection when he was a teenager.
He prizes simplicity and is expected to encourage priests to do shoe-leather evangelization, according to his biographer.
Shortly after his election, Francis skipped the limousine and chose instead to ride on the last shuttle bus with other cardinals to go back to the Vatican for a meal.
“And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off? It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver ‘That’s OK, I’ll just go with the boys,’” Dolan told reporters.
Later, during the dinner, Dolan said Francis showed his humorous side.
“We toasted him and when he toasted us he said: ‘May God forgive you,’ which brought the house down,” he said.
About an hour before Francis emerged on the balcony, white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel and bells rang out across Rome to signal a decision had been made.
The unveiling of the new pope was moment of pure joy for the 100,000 pilgrims, tourists and other onlookers in St Peter’s Square.
“Who is this?” asked Deirdre Sweeney from Boston, Mass., when Francis first walked onto the balcony.
“Argentinian!” shouted a man nearby.
Americans were among the tens of thousands who gathered to witness the unveiling of Pope Francis.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Sweeney’s husband, Kevin. “It’s an incredible breakthrough. It’s a great recognition for the church that the church is not euro-centric anymore.”
Another man shouted: “It’s very gutsy that he chose the name Francis, he’s going to be the first Francis. He wants to be a humble pope and build the church up, from a time of ruin, like St. Francis of Assisi.”
Smoke billowed from the chimney at 7:07 p.m. local time (2:07 p.m. ET) on the second day of behind-closed-doors voting.
The cardinals are thought to have taken five ballots to reach the two-thirds of the vote necessary for a decision.
The new pontiff’s debut was heralded by a Latin announcement beginning with the phrase “Habemus Papam!” meaning, “We have a pope!”
George Weigel, NBC News’ Vatican analyst, said Francis would be “a great defender of religion around the world.”
“The papacy has moved to the New World. The church has a new pope with a new name,” he added. “I think it speaks to the church’s commitment to the poor of the world and compassion in a world that often needs a lot of healing.”
NBC News Special Report: The Vatican announces that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected as the new head of the Catholic Church.
Obama said the choice of the first pope from the Americas spoke “to the strength and vitality” of a region “that is increasingly shaping our world.”
“Alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day,” the president said in a statement.
Now known as Pope Emeritus, Francis’ predecessor Benedict watched Wednesday’s events from a temporary lakeside residence at Castel Gandolfo while his permanent living quarters inside Vatican City are refurbished.
The behind-the-scenes ballot process that took place in the Sistine Chapel should still remain a secret. Both the cardinals and staff working alongside them swore an oath of secrecy as the conclave got under way, with the threat of ex-communication for anyone breaking the church’s ancient code.
NBC News’ Yuka Tachibana and Richard O’Kelly, and Reuters contributed to this report.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected to lead the Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
This story was originally published on Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:14 AM EDT
NBC News Vatican analyst George Weigel says Pope Francis is expected to teach the church how to be missionary again.
Although Pope Francis is a Jesuit, he chose his papal name not in honor of St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, but rather in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s a significant choice.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, a member of the 115-member conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope, told NBC News that the new pope explained his choice of name at the gathering Wednesday.
Vatican watchers said the election of Bergoglio was already a powerful signal of a renewed commitment by the Catholic Church to traditional Catholic theology. And in choosing to highlight Francis of Assisi, Bergoglio was explicitly honoring “a saint that transcends the Catholic Church and is loved by all people, a saint who reached out for simplicity, … poverty and care for the poor,” the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a spokesman for the Vatican, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC).
Francis (who was born in 1181 or 1182 and died in 1226) founded the Franciscan Order in his hometown, Assisi, in what is now the Italian region of Umbria.
Although he was never even ordained as a priest, Francis is considered one of the church’s holiest figures and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, only two years after his death, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, which reflects the Vatican’s official view of history.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected to lead the Roman Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Among other things, he’s credited by the church with creating the first Nativity scene to celebrate Christmas in 1223.
Francis wasn’t always so saintly. Born to wealth, he lived a playboy life that included blowing off his studies, according to a biography penned by Thomas of Celano, a friar who was a contemporary of Francis’ and one of his first followers.
But in 1205 — as he was on his way to fight one of Assisi’s many battles with its rival city of Perugia — Francis had what Thomas and other biographers describe as a vision in which he was told to return home. He did, taking up a life of prayer and solitude. On a subsequent pilgrimage to Rome, he reportedly gave all his money to the city’s poor having exchanged his clothes with those of a beggar.
Shortly thereafter, Francis had another vision as he was praying in a rundown chapel in Assisi, in which Jesus commanded him, “Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.”
Taking the command literally, according to Thomas’ and other histories, Francis sold his home and his possessions to raise the money to rebuild the city’s chapels. He became a street preacher, and by 1209, he and about 11 followers were making the rounds of Umbria’s towns as itinerant preachers when Francis traveled to Rome to seek Pope Innocent III’s blessing to establish a religious order. Final approval came the following year.
(The official history and admiring biographies of the time tell an entertaining tale of red tape and bureaucratic delays that kept Francis hanging around outside the Vatican for several days trying to get inside to see the pope.)
The order grew rapidly, and within a few years it had expanded into two others: one for women, today known as the Poor Clares, and another for pious laymen and women who choose to live a worldly life.
Followers were drawn by Francis’ absolute devotion to living his life in close imitation of Jesus’. The burgeoning order celebrated poverty, so much so that in his “Testament,” written shortly before he died, Francis said absolute poverty was his order’s defining rule.
U.S. Catholics are praying Pope Francis will be able to repair the church, damaged by scandal, and help usher in an era of credibility that can draw in more young parishioners. NBC’s John Yang reports.
In a famous dictum history attributes to him, Francis argued: “You cannot starve a fasting man, you cannot steal from someone who has no money, you cannot ruin someone who hates prestige.”
It is that philosophy that Pope Francis adheres to, even though he is not himself a member of the order, said Rosica, the Vatican spokesman.
“Cardinal Bergoglio has spent his life opening his arms to the poor, the destitute,” he told the CBC. “Argentina is a beautiful country, but there are great pockets of poverty and injustice, and he was right there in the middle of all of this.”
Church scholars predicted that the new pope would bring a sharp focus on ministering to the poor in the manner of St. Francis.
“He has a reputation for simplicity and for being utterly concerned about the poor,” the Rev. John Padberg, director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources at Saint Louis University, told NBC station KSDK of St. Louis. “In all of the upheavals in Argentina in previous years, no matter what had happened, that was one of his main concerns.”
Juan Martinez, an associate professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said that while Pope Francis might be considered theologically conservative, he’ll be “conservative with a human face.”
“The reality of living amongst the poor and those who suffered in the majority world gives him a very different perspective from the previous pope,” Martinez told NBC 4 of Los Angeles. “It is an experience that is more common among the majority of Catholics.”
ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – Only black smoke billowed on the first day of the Vatican conclave, Tuesday. The conclave will have to return to the Apostolic Palace for a new round of voting Wednesday.
The 115 Cardinals tasked with electing the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, are using paper ballots.
The smoke from a Vatican chimney indicating whether they`ve agreed upon a new Pope comes from the ballots themselves.
After the votes are counted the ballots are burned with a special chemical to make the smoke either black or white.
White smoke means they`ve agreed upon a new Pope.
The Cardinals hope to elect the Church`s 266th pope before Easter, March 31st.
There are several front runners from Italy, Brazil, Canada and the United States, including
St. Louis native, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
There’s certainly a “March Madness” feel growing in St. Louis from the convent to the corner bar.
The Cardinals began that ‘holiest order’ of business Tuesday, as momentum built outside the Sistine Chapel, among those outside who have no vote; momentum building for the Cardinal now drawing international headlines, especially in Italy, for his good nature and charm.
The rise of the American priest is being compared to rise of the American president.
Cardinal Dolan, the proud St. Louis guy, was just here for Stan Musial`s funeral in January.
There`s a feeling here that he is truly, one of us.
‘Tradition is that you`re supposed to put the red berretta that the holy Father has given you, you put that there at the entrance (of your home) but I`ve the Cardinal (baseball) that that I had signed by Stan Musial right next door to it,’ Cardinal Dolan beamed during a visit to St. Louis to officiate First Communion and Confirmation masses for young people here in May.
The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters or Pink Sisters are praying around the clock as always at their North St. Louis convent.
They`ve now added special daily prayers for the conclave at noon.
There is one Cardinal they consider a friend, who`s prayed with in St. Louis: Cardinal Dolan.
They say they`re praying for no Cardinal in particular.
‘Do you sneak one (a prayer) in (for Cardinal Dolan)?’ FOX2`s Andy Banker asked.
Sr. Mary Catherine and Sr. Mary Gemma laughed.
‘That would be a miracle if he would get it. That would be amazing for the Church if Cardinal Dolan would get it,’ Sr. Mary Catherine said. ‘We`re praying for the one who`s best for the church. God knows who`s best for the church. I think that`s what the Cardinals are doing too.’
‘We`re praying for whoever God wants,’ said Sr. Mary Gemma.
At the Area IV bar in South St. Louis, Chris Zimmer took 4 random picks in the papal drawing. He didn`t get ‘Dolan’ but decided to pull for him anyway.
‘I`ll be a martyr. I`ll go ahead and say St. Louis having a Pope would be better than me having $190…or whatever it is,’ he laughed.
‘I would like Timothy Dolan to get it. That would be wonderful; hometown boy,’ said Susan Polson, a teacher at a St. Louis Catholic School.
‘If I win, I`ll call you guys,’ Zimmer smiled, drinking his beer.
And if Cardinal Dolan is elected – he`ll ‘drink to that’; the Pink Sisters will ‘pray to that’.
Of course the conclave is no popularity contest.
A Cardinal needs to get at least 77 of 115 possible votes to become Pope.
With the Cardinals taking oaths of secrecy, there’s no way of knowing how many, if any, Dolan got today.
Three Americans, including former Pittsburgh bishop Donald Wuerl, are considered contenders as Roman Catholic cardinals meet Tuesday to elect a pope.
Wuerl, 72, the cardinal of Washington, is one of 115 who will vote on a successor to Benedict XVI — the first pope to resign in six centuries.
At least one veteran Vatican watcher considers him a “compelling” candidate.
As cardinals finished their general congregation meetings on Monday, some walked through St. Peter’s Square, mobbed by journalists and onlookers eager to see a man who might become the church’s 266th pope.
“We are excited to get started,” said Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins, as Italian police struggled to hold back the media.
Before the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict as pope, three favorites were often mentioned.
According to John Allen, Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter newspaper, two of Italy’s most respected writers on the Vatican say New York’s charismatic, media-savvy Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 63, “has strong support heading into the conclave, so one has to take his candidacy seriously.”
Allen said the cardinals are looking for someone to set a global vision that appeals to non-Western Catholics, to bring the church’s evangelical side to the wider world, and to shake up the Vatican bureaucracy.
Dolan’s energy and steely resolve appeal to some. Others are bothered by his lack of foreign-language fluency and a gregarious nature that is considered “so American,” said Dr. Terrence Tilley, chairman of Fordham University’s theology department and a professor of Catholic theology.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, 68, is “the public darling in the run-up to the conclave, the cardinal that ordinary people just can’t stop talking about,” wrote Allen. “His plain-brown Capuchin habit, his beard, his smile and humility, have stirred a sort of Roman love affair.”
O’Malley was raised in Western Pennsylvania and attended St. Fidelis Seminary in Herman in Butler County, which closed in 1979.
Tilley said O’Malley is perceived as a reformer and tough on priest sex-abuse scandals that rocked his diocese; he speaks several languages and worked in Asia and Latin America. “But he might be perceived as too nice of a guy,” Tilley said.
Wuerl hasn’t enjoyed the media buzz of Dolan and O’Malley but “is actually the most compelling American candidate,” according to Allen. A native of Pittsburgh and its bishop for 18 years, Wuerl studied and worked in Rome for more than a decade, “giving him a cosmopolitan look on the church,” Allen wrote.
Wuerl has publicly stressed a pope’s “pastoral” role and the “challenge of faith in a secular world.” He speaks Italian and is considered an efficient manager. But he lacks working experience beyond the West, according to Tilley.
“We are in a different era from when the strong candidates consisted of three,” said Father Norman Tanner, a professor of church history at Pontifical Gregorian University. “Now we have a dozen or so.”
With two-thirds of the 1.2 billion Catholics living outside Western countries, he said, “it is perfectly reasonable now to consider the non-Europeans” for pontiff.
Although the odds of an American pope generally were rated near zero in the past, this time, three American cardinals stand out.
“If the conclave quickly ends by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, then one of the front-runners will have been elected. If the conclave goes beyond Thursday morning, then an American might be a compromise candidate,” said Tilley.
The Italian press considers the leading candidates to be Italy’s Angelo Scola of Milan, Canadian Marc Ouellet of Quebec City, and Brazilian Odilo Pedro Scherer of San Paulo — but warns readers to take such predictions with a grain of salt.
“All this is pure speculation,” Tilley said. “I would not bet even a soda pop on this.”
Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, insists that “when those cardinals are in the Sistine Chapel, the entire church throughout the world will be standing with them” — and the votes they cast will be “a deep spiritual experience, not some kind of a political machination.”
This article was written by Channel 11′s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.
American Cardinals Sean O’Malley and Timothy Dolan would both make “excellent choices” to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, former Vatican ambassador Ray Flynn declares in an exclusive Newsmax TV interview.
O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, and Dolan, his counterpart in New York, are both considered outside chances to be the next pontiff.
And Flynn is convinced either would be a worthy head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church.
Flynn even envisioned an American Pope in a 2001 novel. “I predicted he would come from the Boston area, and I also said that his name would be Sean,” Flynn, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 1993 to 1997, tells Newsmax. Flynn also served as Boston’s mayor from 1984 to 1993.
Watch our exclusive interview. Story continues below.
Flynn, 73, who was named to the Vatican post by President Bill Clinton, was referring to his book, “The Accidental Pope,” which he co-wrote with Robin Moore.
“I believe that even more now,” Flynn says. “Because when you see the unique personality of Sean O’Malley, his humbleness, and what he did for Boston when he came here. The church was rocked with the [sex-abuse] scandal; he dealt with that very, very effectively.
“He stopped living in a mansion. He moved into a minority neighborhood of Boston right next to public housing. What a message that sent,” Flynn continues. “He wasn’t trying to become a big reformer, but that’s in fact what he did. He brought hope and confidence back to the Catholic Church at the time it was rocked with the clergy sex-abuse scandal.”
Dolan, Flynn says, “also comes from very humble roots, St. Louis, and he moved to Milwaukee as Archbishop and is now Cardinal Archbishop of New York.
“He has done great work working with the Jewish community, with the Muslim community, evangelicals, Catholics.
“Tim Dolan is a real healer; he’s somebody that brings people together. Both Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Dolan, I believe, would make excellent choices for consideration to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.”
The general congregation of cardinals met on Monday to begin the process of selecting a successor to Benedict, who is now Pope emeritus. They’re meeting at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City — and could set a date for a conclave to elect the next Pope by the end of the week.
The hope is to have a new Pope by Palm Sunday, Flynn says. Palm Sunday falls this year on March 24.
“They look at each candidate with the vision of who would be best able to lead the Catholic Church,” he tells Newsmax. “What they’ll do is they’ll decide, right now, what are the issues most important for the future of the Catholic Church. We all know that there have been scandals — and that’s why it is very, very important that they get this part of it straight, get this part of it right, and then they’ll then decide who’s the best person to lead the Catholic Church in a new direction or a direction that’s going to be positive for world opinion and for Catholics throughout the world.”
One such issue, Flynn says, is religious freedom — reflected in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lawsuit against the Obama administration last year over the birth-control coverage mandate under Obamacare.
Though a pro-life Democrat, Flynn tells Newsmax that “this is the most important issue that Catholics have ever faced in their lifetimes and in the modern history of the Catholic Church. Catholics have to get off the sidelines and have to take a real positive, assertive, activist role and being more involved in the political process.
“Not just complaining about what’s going on,” he points out, “but affecting the political outcomes because if this can happen to the Catholic faith — in terms of the government telling them what they can do, what they can’t preach, programs that they must administer, programs that they can’t administer in their institutions, whether it be a hospital or orphanages or any kind of situation — it’s a real sad sign for our democracy, for our Constitution.”
Flynn credits Dolan with standing “toe-to-toe” against the Obama administration over the issue.
“More Catholics are starting to understand the seriousness of this issue. We’re not seeing this in the newspaper. We’re not seeing this on national TV, but this focus of growing unrest with these kinds of programs coming out of the White House is starting to mobilize, open the eyes of Catholics throughout the United States.
“Sometimes, it takes a little bit of time for people to get mobilized,” Flynn tells Newsmax. “Another thing is people probably figured that this couldn’t happen in the Catholic Church: The White House, the president, telling the Catholic Church what they must do with the hospitals and orphanages and institutions of the Catholic Church.
“That’s what they’re doing. That’s what the White House is doing — and I don’t believe that Catholics will tolerate it,” he adds. “They will get involved. They will be mobilized. It’s just a question of how, when and who — and that’s what this conclave is all about.”
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FREETOWN, MASS. (WPRI)- In the long history of the Catholic church, there has never been an American Pope.
But that could soon change.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is considered a strong candidate for the papacy. However, he’s not the only American name being thrown around. Reporters in Rome are now mentioning Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
The 68-year-old’s handling of the church’s sex abuse scandal while serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Fall River has strengthened his chance of being elevated.
Eyewitness News sat down with Fr. Mike Racine of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Assonet. Bishop O’Malley ordained Fr. Mike into the priesthood in 1995.
“He is a very wonderful celebrant. He preaches a very beautiful homily, always starts off with a little story, little Irish story, little chuckle”, Fr. Mike said of O’Malley.
As cardinals from around the world prepare to enter The Sistine Chapel and select a new spiritual leader, many wonder if an American even stands a chance.
“Well, we’re not the only super power anymore. We don’t know what will happen once they enter the conclave. This all comes under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”, Fr. Racine said.
If either Cardinals Dolan or O’Malley are elevated to the papacy, they would become the first American Pope in history.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) – In a statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Bishops weighed in on the recent alleged “accomodation” offered by the Obama Administration last Friday. The answer was clear, principled, uncompromising and courageous. I expected nothing less from this man who is such a great gift to the Church in the United States during this critical hour in the history of both Church and Nation.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan loves the Lord and the Church with an infectious enthusiasm borne of a sincere, living faith. He is what I call, dynamically orthodox. A strong defender of the truths which the Church must always defend, he defends them filled with the joy of the Lord. Even those who contend with him cannot help but like him. He is a man comfortable in his own skin, at ease with the use of the media, filled with the Holy Spirit, and eager to share the Gospel, as it is found in its fullness within the Catholic Church.
This dynamic Bishop began his challenging assignment of leading the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in June of 2002 by proclaiming those wonderful words of Blessed John Paul II, the words of the Angel to Our Lady, “Be Not Afraid” when he addressed the faithful. Any observer of the work of Bishops must attest that, given the state of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee when he was appointed, he demonstrated his full palate of gifts and led with the heart of a true shepherd.
Wherever he serves, he is dearly loved by his priests and deacons. That is because he has a pastor’s heart and knows the importance of a Bishop’s relationship with his clergy. He is also a dynamic and inspiring communicator and solid teacher of the truths as taught by the Magisterium of the Church.Finally, he is a true leader, both naturally and supernaturally. He is just what we need as we face great threats to the freedom of the Church to engage in her mission at the very time when the nation so desperately needs her message and her ministry.
His pastoral and communications gifts – and full compliment of leadership skills – were applied immediately upon his appointment to the Archdiocese of New York, the second largest local Church in the United States. He leads the Archdiocese of New York – which the Holy See is purported to consider the “Capital of the World” – with a pastors heart, a teachers wisdom, and a courageous and faithful Bishops dedication to defending the fullness of truth found within the full communion of the Catholic Church. He has been willing to fight the enemies of the Church, but he does so with velvet gloves! He confounds his opponents with Truth and wins them with the Love of God, making them friends.
At this critical time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, Cardinal Dolan’s election to the office of President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was not only an historic turn of events, it was a sign of the Lord’s continued guidance of the Catholic Church in the United States. The United States of America has become mission territory. The Church in the United States is in need of the New Evangelization and Cardinal Dolan is its instrument, a trumpet in the hands of the Lord.
But make no mistake, the smile on his jovial face, his gregarious manner and his genuine warmth dwell right within a leader with a backbone of steel. This is a true defender of the faith. He will not back down in the defense of the Church, her mission, her rights and her call to participate fully in the public square. We ask our readers to pray for Cardinal Dolan and for all of our Bishops as they once again take the lead in this epic struggle.
We are please to present his entire statement of response to the most recent proposal from the Federal Administration below, in its entirety.
Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan Responding to Feb. 1 Proposal from HHS
For almost a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have worked hard to support the right of every person to affordable, accessible, comprehensive, life-affirming healthcare.As we continue to do so, our changeless values remain the same.We promote the protection of the dignity of all human life and the innate rights that flow from it, including the right to life from conception to natural death; care for the poorest among us and the undocumented; the right of the Church to define itself, its ministries, and its ministers; and freedom of conscience.
Last Friday, the Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the HHS mandate that requires coverage for sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortions.The Administration indicates that it has heard some previously expressed concerns and that it is open to dialogue.With release of the NPRM, …
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