Getting to know Timothy Dolan

“True freedom is the liberty to do whatever we ought, not the freedom to do whatever we want; we are at our best when we give away freely what’s most inside of us.”
–Archbishop Timothy Dolan, (RC-NY)

A long and well-worth reading profile of NY’s new archbishop, in New York Magazine, where the subtitle declares: If anyone can repair the church’s image, it’s Timothy Dolan. Except there are only so many nice ways to say no.

For some people, that’s all the Catholic Church is, a big bunch of “no.” I suspect the biggest problem people have with the church is that all they ever hear is the “no,” and they do not stick around to encounter the “why,” or the love with which it is rendered. Dolan is personable enough to make people want to stick around, and he gets the message right.

Some excerpts:

The challenge, as Dolan sees it, is how to expand the church’s appeal while protecting its principles. “How do we make something that is by its nature timeless timely?” he asks. “How do we make something that is by its nature otherworldly attractive to the world?”


He once heard Benedict say, “The church is all about yes, yes, not no, no.” “And I thought, Bingo! You know, the church is the one who dreams, the church is the one who constantly has the vision, the church is the one that’s constantly saying ‘Yes!’ to everything that life and love and sexuality and marriage and belief and freedom and human dignity—everything that that stands for, the church is giving one big resounding ‘Yes!’ The church founded the universities, the church was the patron of the arts, the scientists were all committed Catholics. And that’s what we have to recapture: the kind of exhilarating, freeing aspect. I mean, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan who brought down the Berlin Wall. It was Karol Wojtyła. I didn’t make that up: Mikhail Gorbachev said that.”
…“I guess one of the things that frustrates me pastorally,” he adds, “is that there’s this caricature of the church—of being this oppressive, patriarchal, medieval, out-of-touch naysayer—where the opposite is true.”

You see why I like him, right? We’re singing the same tune, but he’s the concert master!

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  • Myssi

    Oh, I like him already, and I’m not a Roman Catholic. But it is true that Christ set us free for freedom and that only Christ can free us to do the right thing as my friend Heather was freed to sacrifice her life for her son Heath to live. (No, Heather is not gone yet, but the docs say it is only a matter of time. Heather’s not listening – she’s praying and fighting and walked into church last night under her own power leaning only slightly on her husband’s arm. God, I know you’re listening, bless that girl for her faith.) Having seen that freedom first hand and having been freed myself to do the right thing instead of my thing, I know that your Archbishop is right and I salute him.

    BTW, does this mean Lizzie can play again?

  • Amy P.

    Oh, I’m so with you on this. We were blessed to have Archbishop Timothy Dolan here in Milwaukee for a few all-too-short years. I miss him terribly; but his move to New York is still a blessing for us all. HE now gets to be the face of America’s archdiocese. And what a lovely, faith-filled, faithful face it is.

  • Jeanette

    We should never give up on Christian principles just to be popular. The world changes, but God doesn’t. I’d rather please Him than the world.

  • Gayle Miller

    He makes me proud to be a Catholic.

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