Cardinal Dolan: “I’ll return home a cardinal, but I’m still a sinner”

New York’s new cardinal shared some thoughts on his new title in an exclusive column in this morning’s New York Post (which put the archbishop on its front page yesterday, below).

Take it away, Cardinal Dolan:

Most people have heard the famous story of Christ washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus said to these 12, his closest friends and followers, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:14-15)

With God’s help, it is this model of love and service that I have tried to carry out, however clumsily and imperfectly, during my nearly 36 years as priest, bishop and archbishop. Please God, I will continue to grow in my ability to love and serve the faithful of the Archdiocese of New York.

In the Gospel reading heard at Sunday Mass yesterday, Jesus heals a paralyzed man whose friends lower him through an opening in the roof of a crowded house. It was this faith of the paralyzed man and his friends that moved our Lord to heal him.

It is the same kind of faith I see being carried out each day back home in New York, whether it be in one of our Catholic Charities food pantries that are helping the poor and needy, or in one of our splendid Catholic schools providing new generations with the finest in academic and faith formation, or when I meet with young men and women who want to serve God and His people as priests, sisters or brothers, or visit our elders in an archdiocesan nursing home.

I remain very much aware that the honor of being named a cardinal belongs not only to me, but in a very real way to the Catholic faithful and the entire community of New York, who carry out these acts of faith every day.

While in Rome, I’m staying at the North American College, where I arrived as a 22-year-old seminarian 40 years ago. One of the older workers hugged me when I arrived back here Sunday, and said, “Sorry, but to me you’ll always be a simple young man who arrived here homesick, a friend and a ‘nice guy.’ ” To me, that’s better than being a cardinal!

I return to New York tomorrow, and the next day is Ash Wednesday, when the church marks the beginning of the season of more fervent prayer, self-sacrifice and charity known as Lent.

My first appointment Wednesday morning, my first full day back as your new cardinal, will be to give out breakfast to the daily food line at St. Francis Church on 31st Street; my second appointment is to be marked with ashes at St. Patrick’s, a sign that I’m a big sinner.

These will certainly be good reminders to me of the sacrifice and service of Jesus, who came to suffer and die for our sins.

I will return home as a cardinal, but I’m still a sinner, one only trying to love as God loves us.

Read the rest.  Ad multos annos, Your Eminence!


  1. Did you see him on tv, standing up after getting his ring, he stepped back from the pope and WAIVED GOODBYE to His Holiness! That is sooooo the Man.

  2. I’ve never understood why Catholic priests feel like they have to be enablers, telling everyone “I’m a sinner”, and implying “its ok if you are, too”.

    Part of the job description of a priest should be to not sin, which is piety simple if that is the main focus of your life. Of course, if you sin anyways, tell everyone that you do, and enable them to do it, you are doing the opposite of your duty.

    One of Cardinal Dolan’s nastiest sins was publishing a blog entry that trashed the 16 year old girl that came forward after a priest was massaging her more inappropriately every day. Archbishop Dolan published a piece where the Catholic League trashed her.

    Archbishop Dolan and the Catholic League trash a poor, scared 16 year old girl that thought she was going to be the next victim of Catholic priest child rape. Gutless, and yes, sinful.

  3. I don’t think I ever heard about that one. Could you supply a reference, please? I’d like to check it out.

  4. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    It must be such a pleasure to be able to type without having to contend with any beams in your own eye. I wish I were that lucky.

    Dcn. G.

  5. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I think he’s referencing this item.

  6. Bill Russell says:

    Cardinal Dolan is doing his best to raise the morale of New Yorkers, and may God bless him for that, but – pardon the pun- after a while the fat man jokes wear thin. Just before the Consistory, he told the press that New York is just like Milwaukee, only bigger. No. It is bigger, but it ain’t like Milwaukee. And if the Cardinal thinks that back slapping and laughing will win the politicos over, they’ll have him for dinner – not at the table but on the plate. A little gravitas is not out of place. Too much self-conscious heartiness starts sounding like the captain of the Titanic saying drink up – just don’t look out the porthole.

  7. awashingtondccatholic says:

    Such simple words and yet, they are such a powerful statement of who he is to the core. Ad Multos Annos Cardinal Dolan!

  8. awashingtondccatholic says:

    Don’t underestimate him. Or maybe, he is hoping you underestimate him.

  9. Patrick Sweeney says:

    Dolan’s style is sincere and informal. He’s media-savvy and knows how to get his message in the newspapers, etc. It is because he is effective that he will become the target of anti-Catholics, anti-religious liberty bigots everywhere. He needs our prayers and our support. Frankly, so far, he’s done so many things right that Cardinal Egan got wrong, I’ve lost count.

  10. naturgesetz says:

    Neil Allen —

    If the blog entry which you were referring to is the one which Deacon Greg linked in his reply to me, you have completely misrepresented it, and you have completely misrepresented the press release from the Catholic League. The press release rightly trashes SNAP for falsely accusing the Archbishop of coverups where none occurred. The press release which the Archbishop included in his blog makes it clear to objective readers that SNAP has absolutely no concern for truth, that it is a thoroughly dishonest organization out to trash the hierarchy by fair means or foul — fair if possible, foul in all other cases.

    I suppose you are characterizing the words “she voluntarily decided to go back” as “trashing” the girl. To me, in the context of the press having been alerted to the arrest the following day, this raises the question of whether this whole thing was planned. Assuming SNAP wasn’t in contact with the girl before she made the accusation, they are in no better position than I am to know whether the accusation is true or not. We cannot assume that an accusation is true just because it is made; and we can’t assume it is false just because of the rapidity with which not only the police but also the media were alerted. It was a point that it was not unreasonable for the Catholic League to raise. But the press release would have been better if they had confined it to the absurdity of SNAP’s accusation and left out the innuendo about credibility.

    But you have transformed an account which says she says she was “inappropriately touched” one day, and “again,” and “for the third time” into an escalating series of massages. And you have fabricated a story of what was going on in her mind at the time. Apparently, you feel no more bound by truth and accuracy than SNAP does. And that is, to use your word, sinful.

  11. It is really part of all of us who have been called to follow Christ not to sin- this is not the exclusive domain of our ordained ministers. I don’t quite follow your logic that publically acknowledging your are a sinner somehow “enable” others to sin? In fact, every Sunday at Mass, we all publically confess that we are sinners, “I confess to Almight God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned”. Rather than enabling others to sin, we ask our brothers and sisters to pray for us. I believe this is the spirit in which Cardinal Dolan made his remarks- which are especially significant as we are soon to enter Lent.

  12. Deacon, since this was a NY event, I had not heard anything about it. In reading your link, and then reading Neil comment and yours below on Neils comment, I wanted to get some clarification.
    Your reply to Neil seems to be talking about the admonition that we should not point out the sin splinter in the other without looking at the beam in our own eye. Is that correct? Then do you think the posting by the Cardinal was in fact sinful splinter in anyway? Did the Cardinal come out and say it was wrong and apologize later? I think Catholic League in general has been a good friend to the Catholic Church and that Bill Donahue and the Cardinal are in fact pretty good friends. Not trying to be nasty or cute, just curious.

  13. awashingtondccatholic, I think Cardinal (love saying that title with this man) Dolan exactly wants others to be disarmed by his appearance and his ongoing smile. I think one guy already took him for a pushover by the name of Obama. People are not use to seeing a Cardinal act like this and come racing across the room with hand outstretched and a big smile. I suspect that the moneychangers in the temple were also kind of shocked by Christ racing after them with a whip and trashing their tables. I am starting to believe that God has provided the right president of the USCCB at the exact time we need him. He made me laugh for the first time since my wife’s funeral watching him gain his red hat. He has the friendly demeaner, but also a strong core belief and love of Catholic teaching and a very strong tie to this Pope.

  14. I know the word I have been searching for about Cardinal Dolan. He is authentic. He is authentic American. He is authentic Catholic. He is authentically human.

  15. naturgesetz says:

    It is dangerous to attribute motives to others when they have not told us, but …

    reading elsewhere how extraordinary it was for Cardinal-designate Dolan — rather than some curial cardinal — to be asked to give the pre-consistory talk, I have begun to wonder if it entered Pope Benedict’s mind that this could go a long way toward making Dolan papabile. It enabled him to show his ability to speak Italian, especially during the Q & A. It enabled him to show his concept of the New Evangelization. And it gave him instant recognition among his fellow cardinals. I hadn’t really paid much attention to him until recently, but seeing bits of New York TV stations’ pre-consistory stories, I get the impression that he might be just what the Church needs in a successor to Benedict XVI. He is as open and affable as John Paul I. After John Paul II and Benedict XVI we won’t need another profound theologian, but one who knows his predecessors’ theology and can present it in a way that lets the world feel the love of Christ behind it.

  16. Have to agree with Bill. A little gravitas here and there would help. The nice guy thing only goes so far. We don’t want to hear weight jokes at this juncture; we want to hear what the plan is to oppose this administration’s assault on religious freedom. What is the plan? How about a three point plan or something.

  17. Dolan as pope? Well I guess if Obama disarms the United States enough so that we’re not a superpower anymore, it’s a possibility. But remote, very remote. I wouldn’t bet any money on that happening.

  18. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Dolan’s got the goods.

    Read his address to the cardinals from last week. It’s wonderful.

    I may steal some of it for my Ash Wednesday homily. ;-)

    Dcn. G.

  19. If there is going to be an American Pope which I doubt, I would put my money of Cardinal Burke who has been in the Vatican in a very key position and is close not only to the Pope, but many of the Italians as well. I think the next Pope, which I hope is years away, is going to be Italan. Remeber, they had it for cneturies and now have had a Polish and now German Pope and they sill have largest group of voting Cardinals.

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