Archbishop Dolan on CBS

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who shared with moving honesty the story of his encounter with an angry Catholic here will be featured tomorrow night on 60 minutes.

Even though 60 minutes starts the same time as In the Arena (the real one, not Spitzer’s) that’s one episode I will be sure to watch.

Asked if he feared the impact of the scandal would go on forever, Dolan replies, “In some ways, I don’t want it to be over, because…this was such a crisis in the Catholic Church that in a way, we don’t want to get over it too easily,” he tells Safer. “This needs to haunt us.”

Dolan defended the church’s recent response to the sex abuse crisis, but the deeds themselves and the decades-long cover-up are hard for him to bear or understand.

“When you think of what happened, both…that a man who proposes to act in the name of God would’ve abused an innocent young person,” says Dolan. “And that some bishops would have, in a way, countenanced that by reassigning abusers, that’s nothing less than hideous. That’s nothing less than nauseating…”

Then Safer points out that many believe the cover-up was worse than the abuse. “I’d say there’s some truth in that, you’d think that the church of all would know better,” answers Dolan.

Sadly, I don’t think the good Archbishop needs to worry that this won’t haunt us sufficiently. The distrust, doubt and disgust that have been engendered by the sins of some priests and too many bishops will be with us for decades. As a friend wrote to me today on a related issue, “this won’t be over in our lifetimes…”

I fear that’s true. And it makes me marvel all the more at the fact that right now — worldwide — there are more young men in Catholic seminaries than ever, something we don’t, in our Western conceit, always realize.

Materialism and cultural cynicism has worked like a one-two punch to the solar plexus of the priesthood, but — after decades of gasping — priestly vocations seem to be slowly regaining some wind, and getting up from the mat. The 2010 report has the worldwide total of priests rising by 1 percent.

Historically, most of our priests have come from poorer cultures, and that is still true, today.

In 2004, Hungarian Archbishop Csaba Ternyak presented some surprising numbers to the Congregation for Clergy, and those numbers painted a somewhat rosier picture of new priestly vocations than we usually get. Ternyak reported that while the number of Western seminarians is depressing, the overall numbers were not: In 1961, he found, there were 404,082 priests worldwide, while in 2001 there were 405,067. In 1978, when John Paul II was elected, there were 63,882 major seminarians in the world. By 2001 that number had nearly doubled to 112,982. These new priests are coming from Africa, Asia, and Oceania, where in 2010 their numbers have increased by anywhere from 3.6 percent to 6.5 percent. The future of the Church will depend a great deal on how effectively these priests can evangelize the self-saturated, tuned-out West, which has transitioned from a missionary culture to a mission.

But his is a subject that really does make the gorge rise, just as much today as it did a few years earlier when I wrote:

The terrible sin of some of our priests, compounded by their bishops, has been a source of sickening and unrelenting shame for us. We have felt the disgust in our bellies and wished we could push the whole story away, because the pain is so abysmal and vast.

It still brings a visceral reaction, as Dolan notes.

Try to watch Dolan on CBS. We can always watch (the real) In the Arena when it rebroadcasts at 11:30! This weekend we’re talking about Paganism, Wicca and the allure it holds over our young people.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Max Lindenman

    You know what impressed me most about Dolan’s story? The fact that, when the crank asked, “Are you a Catholic priest,” he answered simply, “Yes.” That is, he didn’t answer, “A priest? Don’t you read the Times? I am His Grace, Timothy Dolan, prince and archbishop of New York, and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Stick that in your thurifer and smoke it, Buster Brown!”

  • Jeff

    about twenty years too late. Im not impressed.

  • Casey

    I’m sure I speak for others as well when I say how weary this whole awful situation makes me. Such a tradegy for the victims and such fodder for those who are looking to hate the Church. This last report from Philidelphia was so depressing and sad.

    Thank God for Archbishop Dolan, the right man for the times!

  • MCB

    Archbishop Dolan is about as believable as a $3 bill. Whether he’s telling us “we’re not in crisis” upon his USCCB election, saying “you can call God him, her, or whatever you want” on Fox (Thanksgiving 2010), telling us the abuse crisis is “over with” (NY Daily News 3/17/11), supporting the militantly gay St. Francis Xavier parish in Greenwich Village, publicly telling Albany reporter J. McLoughlin that he does not uphold Canon 915 (3/10/10), approving of the new USCCB Bible “translation” that replaces the word virgin with young woman when referring to the Blessed Mother, etc. etc. etc., I don’t find this man trustworthy…

  • AMR

    As there are bad priests who have committed crimes, there re great men who take their vows seriously and help thousands of people, with Faith–Archbishop Timothy Dolan is one of them…as people bash the Catholic Church for their sins, remember, good men like Dolan are more of a majority, than a minority…

  • Matt

    There’s no question but that Dolan is a garrulous, effusive, zaftig representative of his philosophy, it’s just that his philosophy is nothing short of a misogynistic, iron-age repository of bigotry and nonsense. It was just tragically amusing to me that a reporter of Morley Safer’s his caliber would wander through the gigantic stockpiles of money and privilege of St. Peter’s and the palaces of the Catholic Church that Dolan resides in, and not make a comment that Catholicism, at least theoretically, can ONLY reside within the humble and meager dogmatically, but instead insists upon being an institution dependent upon wealth and the filth of politics. To hear Dolan all but burst into song when praising his institution’s exclusion of women from the priesthood — and the unavoidable hatred of women that is its underpinning — should be an embarrassment to any modern thought process of any kind. Dolan can happily and nonsensically make his accommodations with modernity, but in the end, his religion’s betrayals of its own children and celebration of ignorance and superstition will be its own undoing. I just wish 60 minutes had better things to do with its time than to be a representative for it.

  • Jeff

    Jesus did not make any women his apostles. So if there is a charge of sexism to be leveled, it must be at Jesus not at Dolan. Christians do not believe it possible for Jesus, true God and true man, to have been biased against women like some islamic jihadist. He was also an iconoclast so the claim that he was a creature of his jewish culture doesn’t hold water.

  • croberts

    Add to that list his 2005 CNN appearance where he stated that “it’s not a no-gays policy” when discussing the then-newly released Vatican document stating that gays must be barred from entering the seminary. Way to be obedient to the Pope.

    Just saw the 60 minutes piece. More of the same….glad-handing, chuckling, and jolly good times. Yes, Abp. Dolan – the sex abuse crisis “is over”. As you’ve told us, there’s no crisis here! Oh, and big shock that he never mentioned the holy names of God or Jesus – this from our “American Pope”. Ha.

  • G Perry

    Archbishop Timothy Dolan

    Most Revrand Dolan

    You and Morley Shafer were discussing sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Chuch on 60 Minutes on Sunday evening, March 20th. In my opiniion, these sexual abuses we enabled by the Roman Catholic confession. A Roman Catholic priest may go the the Roman Catholic confesson and confess his sins. The priest hearing the confession may say something like; you are forgiven for your sins, go, say three “Hail Marys. and do not repete your sins. This worked before 1900. But beginning in 1960 during the ‘hippie revolution,’ confessing became less important to the American Roman Catholic, who were given absolution and then went out to commit their sins again. The Roman Caatholic confession allowed Roman Catholic priests to commit sexual abuse again and again without any retribution by the Roman Catholic Chuch or the public judical system.

    George Perry
    Dallas Texas

  • Jrlomy2k

    MCB, you are certainly correct. He is a fraud. Dolan and his cronies out at SGG are hardly exempt from the sex abuse scandal under his own ‘watch’. Not to mention partaking in schism and further dissolution of the Catholic Church. He is no Catholic.

  • Matt

    I recognized the futility of a conversational interaction of any substance between a believer and a nonbeliever, but I encourage you to consider that one of the fundamental principles all three monotheisms have in common to varying degrees is a doctrinal suspicion and diminution of women and fear and/or loathing of their reproductive capacity. Even beyond the big three, religion after religion has its “virgin birth” legends, from Buddha to the cults of Genghis Khan, to Greek and Roman gods, and we are left to wonder what it is exactly about the female that seems to frighten male organizers of religions so completely. If Jesus existed at all, his insistence upon indoctrinating only men into his priesthood should disqualify him from any further consideration as a person of moral substance. Why would you ever even consider following such a belief? Why would you base your life — even by a fraction — according to a belief that women are not sufficiently holy to conduct the sacraments or officiate during a mass? I hope your faith brings you joy and peace, but rest assured, it has brought countless millions little but isolation, guilt, hostility to inquiry and independent thought, and institutionalized gender second-class status. I’m holding out for something more transcendent…something that doesn’t have quite the same aroma of the fearful, cowering infancy of our species about it.

  • Jeff


  • kmk

    “fear and/or loathing of their reproductive capacity?! The Catholic Church?! LOL!!!! I am so grateful to God that His Church is the only–and I repeat, ONLY–institution in the world which adequately explains AND unashamedly defends the “reproductive capacity” of women. AND–you ought to study your history more–CATHOLIC Christendom brought about women’s rights that we enjoy today in this country.
    I must be a mysoginist–I am SO confident that the Church is correct in her assessment that “alter Christus” ought to be a man.
    –Army veteran, mother of several children

  • Patrick O’Malley

    Dolan is a charmer, but he doesn’t admit his guilt in letting a pedophile work in his church, around children, because Dolan dragged his feet. See

    He also didn’t mention the biggest thing of all – that he, and the Catholic Church has never done one single thing for the VICTIMS of child rape by priests. WWJD?

  • Patrick O’Malley

    Question for you and for Dolan, AMR – what have YOU done to help the victims that your priests raped? You don’t have to answer me. You will have to answer in your big interview in heaven, and all those excuses that you’re thinking up right now won’t fly.

  • Craig

    Futility indeed.

    You say you seek something transcendent, and I believe you. And yet you resist allowing Christ to speak to you and Christianity to inform your opinions; instead you base your beliefs about Jesus upon how well He conforms to the social/political doctrines of the New York Times. If you don’t occasionally incur the contempt of the credentialed elites, you have to ask yourself how much of your thought is genuinely independent.

    As for inquiry and independent thought, I am struck by the fact that the places best known for these qualities are where Christianity thrives and the places least known for these are where it falters or is suppressed.

    The Catholic Church’s teaching is never quite at home in any age or place; something (but it varies as to what) always chafes against the prevailing social order. But it remains noticeably constant even as secular conventional wisdom changes from century to century; in other words, it is something that actually transcends its surroundings. And isn’t that what you are looking for? As the saying goes, he who marries the spirit of the age will find himself a widower in the next one.

    A couple of minor corrections. Women are not barred from offering the sacraments because they are insufficiently holy; Catholicism venerates a specific woman, the blessed virgin Mary, as particularly holy and a model for mankind. Despite all this Mary was not a priest nor an apostle because the Church’s received Tradition (which no Pope is at liberty to repudiate) holds that manhood is intrinsic to priestly duties as womanhood is intrinsic to childbirth. And her virgin birth of Jesus is not a mere add-on or embellishment as it is in the hero stories of the pagans; it serves the purpose of confirming the necessary doctrine that Jesus is fully God and fully man — neither “God in a man suit” impersonating humanity, nor a man who achieves God-hood by his own efforts.

  • Mary De Voe

    Without a firm purpose of amendment there is no absolution, or Sacrament, which must include at least imperfect sorrow for sin, verbal confession, a firm promise to avoid sin and the near occasion of sin. Relapse or contumaceous sin become mortal and may be denied absolution.

  • Mary De Voe

    All children pass through same sex attraction on the way to adulthood. Homosexual attraction in grown men is diagnosed as arrested development. No person whose body is imperfect may attain Holy Orders

  • Mary De Voe

    Victims have always had indemnity insurance. How many acts of sexual abuse of children do you believe Archbishop Dolan has witnessed and may testify to in a court of law?

  • Mary De Voe

    The epitome of virginity, our Blessed Mother Mary’s son, Jesus Christ was taken from her and hung on a cross crucified. The blessed Virgin Mary is the model for all women in and out of the church. All that the Catholic Church is and has is held in trust for all generations

  • Mary De Voe

    Jesus was an iconoclast of hypocrisy. Christ upheld the truth of the Jewish culture based on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…not one iota of the law will pass away…

  • Mary De Voe

    Women are called by God to be women. Life is doing the will of God, the Father. Jesus said: “my bread is doing the will of my Father in heaven.” Discern the will of our Father in heaven and follow the path of salvation. St. Peter said: “To whom shall we go?” Do not dictate to God HIS will for this is tyranny of women.

  • Mary De Voe

    Only for his own crimes must a man be punished. Put the rapist in jail for the rest of his life, legally, all of them, ordained and secular. Try the rapist in a criminal court of law with two witnesses to establish a judial fact.

  • Mary De Voe

    Realize that crime and sin is its own punishment. Separation from God is hell. Jesus Christ died for every criminal rapist and sinner. Realizing the suffering of Chirst crucified, repentance is the only response.

  • Matt

    It’s been a spirited, if brief debate, and again, I’m at a loss as to how to begin to adequately respond to what is essentially a recitation of the laws of myth and mystery. You would have as much trouble responding to me if I performed a recapitulation of my firm belief in the preeminence of tree spirits, frogs turning into princes, or the rock-ribbed certainty that the world is destined to come to an end when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. I wish you well with your beliefs.
    Just consider if the following paragraph of yours included a substitution:

    “Despite all this Mary was not a priest nor an apostle because the Church’s received Tradition (which no Pope is at liberty to repudiate) holds that manhood is intrinsic to priestly duties as womanhood is intrinsic to childbirth.”

    Now substitute “Jews,” “African-Americans,” or any other portion of humanity you’d like for “womanhood” in your sentence, then consider examining its implications again.

  • Craig

    I don’t expect you to accept my premises just because I told you about them. Please extend me the same courtesy. Why you single out monotheism as a plot to keep women down, when women in polytheistic societies fare generally worse, is beyond me.

    The differences between the sexes have been the recorded subject of inquiry and art for at least five thousand years. Secular feminism has asserted for about fifty years to the contrary, that the sexes are completely interchangeable — and yet no man has given birth, ever. Both “facts” cannot be true: one must give way.

    It is bald political assertion to claim equivalence between superficial racial characteristics (which even in the bad old days did not prove a bar to wet-nurses and sexually-predatory masters), and sexual characteristics which are fundamental to reproduction of the species. Try the comparison another way: what unique abilities, apart from sperm production, does the male of the species possess that the female lacks? If the answer is “none”, then the interchangeability of the sexes is baseless, and so is your egalitarianism: you should be advocating female superiority instead, the mirror image of what you accuse us of supporting.

  • Matt

    So circular, swirling, self-negating and ultimately incomprehensible are the points you make regarding the generic differences between men and women somehow justifying institutional sexism, that it’s likely best if we leave it alone. Please. I’m just terribly sorry to hear such a case being so assiduously made by a person of your clear erudition. It bears out the tragic truth that religion makes good people do very bad things, indeed.
    As for your defense of that sexism and doctrinal diminution by suggesting that it is at least not worse–and maybe even better–than that visited upon women in non monotheistic cultures, I’d hope that a faith that aspires to peace and love would have a better case to make for itself after such a period of time. It’s a cheaply bought and wildly thin defense, but we grasp what we can, I suppose.
    Again, perhaps its time to aspire to something better.
    All the best to you.