An Epistle in a Picture, (H/T)
And so, at the close of the rather distant and disappointing tenure of Cardinal Edward Egan, New York finally gets an Archbishop who might be called the “worthy successor” to the Mighty John Joseph O’ Connor, one Timothy Michael Dolan of Milwaukee
I love this quote, highlighted by Deacon Greg:
“I was at the vespers when he was installed as bishop. And there’s a part where the bishop knocks on the door. Most do it timidly. Tap, tap. Not him — ‘Bang! Bang!’ It echoed through the cathedral and let everyone know that Timothy Dolan was there.”
—Rev. Steven M. Avella, history professor at Marquette.
New York – and the greater metropolitan area – needs that, and badly: an archbishop who walks boldly, fearlessly and with openness.
Like an uncommunicative, nearly moribund patient who suddenly takes a huge cleansing breath and declares, “kindly don’t build the casket just yet, if you please, and do you have a bit of Jameson’s for my coffee,” the See of New York rattled back to vibrant life with the naming a feisty and outgoing Irishman in the mold of O’ Connor and of Cardinal Cooke, before him. Dolan’s elevation to the Archdiocese of New York makes Egan’s 9-year venture feel more than ever like an “interim appointment.”
People are both excited, and busily trying to define Dolan before the man even takes his office. The NY Times, unable to view anyone except through the lens of political categories, and resolutely horrified by Catholics who believe that the baby boomers are not the last word in our social and spiritual formation, calls him a “genial conservative” and of course, an “enforcer.” Dolan may have a PhD, an impressive resume, a gift for languages, but the Times has managed to find those who sniff that he’s not intellectual enough. He betrays a whiff of Middle America, and too much of the common touch, you know.
But cosmopolitan, dreaming, always-immigrant New York – which bustles with the energy of the masters and the migrants – needs the balance of Middle American values, and the common touch is what makes the city go. Gotham needs a Cardinal who knows how to bring the faith into the streets, who can mix it up with the public, the pundits and the politicians. It also needs a spiritual leader who will challenge as much as he will support, who will teach, as much as he will advocate. That need appears to be met in Dolan, who the super-knowledgeable John Allen characterizes as center-right with a human face.
To be fair to Egan, who gave the impression of spending most of his time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral hiding from the masses and the press, the city was simply never a good fit for him. With his affected air and fastidious-seeming nature, the elegant Egan was better-suited to the Bridgeport, CT seat from whence he came. New York needs its archbishop to be a bit of a happy warrior and – more importantly – “a priest first, then a ‘prince of the church'”, not the other way around; Egan’s diffidence failed him there. He simply never had O’ Connor’s warm genius for reaching beyond the throne to embrace and challenge his rambunctious “principality.” One suspects, given his comments here, that Egan is a bit relieved to be done with this duty.
This is precisely why New Yorkers will understand and love Dolan – they identify with leaders who can straddle the chasms of class and culture, because every New Yorker believes he or she does just that, every day. We’ll see vocations out of this bishop.
This is a very good call by Pope Benedict XVI – himself “a priest first”, whose appointments have been rather uniformly “pastoral and principled”, as writes Irene Lagan.
Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia, who knows Dolan well, is overjoyed at this appointment, and he is also the go-to guy for comprehensive coverage on this appointment, both today and in the coming weeks. He’s got all the links you’ll need.
It is worth noting that over at center-left America Magazine, Michael Sean Winters is every bit as pleased as Rocco. That doesn’t mean either will always be happy. But they both recognise a good man when they see him.
The AP selects a few Dolan quotes, by way of introduction.
Our pal, Fr. James Martin – who once spent a whole day here chatting – emails:
The Holy Father has made a superb choice by appointing Archbishop Dolan as the next leader of New York’s Catholics. His pastoral experience in Missouri means that he knows the needs of the faithful; his time as rector of the prestigious North American College in Rome means that he understand the needs of priests and religious and his stint as archbishop of Milwaukee means that he understand the needs of a large and complicated archdiocese. Archbishop Dolan is warm, gregarious, pastoral, smart and, best of all, has a sense of humor.”
Welcome to New York, Archbishop Dolan! May I give you the same bit of advice Yankee Shortstop Derek Jeter gave to President George W. Bush before he threw the first pitch at the 2001 World Series, post 9/11: “Don’t bounce it. This is New York; they’ll boo you.”
UPDATE: A great story
Dolan talks to a radio host about the “liberation of obedience” in a joy-filled, brief talk. The “liberation of obedience” is a brilliant theme for Lent, isn’t it? Donal chucks a bit of Irish blarney and displays a great laugh. Thanks to reader cathyf.