Archbishop Dolan Wins 60 Minutes

Morley Safer of CBS’ 60 Minutes spent some time talking with one of my favorite Catholics, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Dolan is a gregarious Irishman with a smile that doesn’t quit, a magnetism that holds your attention, an eloquence that instructs without overburdening, and honesty and fidelity that inspire.

My final semester in seminary began with a 5-day silent retreat with Archbishop Dolan, then of Milwaukee, as retreat-master. I had the privilege of a few 15- minute one-on-one sessions with him. I’ve met few people as genuine and magnetic.

The main thrust of the interview was Dolan’s gift of the gab, his magnetic personality, openness, and, of course, his unwavering “conservatism.” The topics were typical: sex abuse scandal, women’s ordination, abortion and contraception, priestly celibacy, and how the Church in America reverses the trend of Catholics no longer simply calling themselves “bad Catholics,” but actually declaring that they are no longer part of the Church.

All in all a great piece but it had some real head-shaker moments. I love lines like this one from old-guard liberal Morley Safer:

But if you think that Dolan is going to push for changes in those doctrines and beliefs, think again: despite the jolly, open demeanor, he’s about as conservative as they come.

(That’s supposed to be a drawback to liking him.)

Safer pressed on, as though the “liberal” positions were obviously the right ones, and the only ones someone with Dolan’s charisma ought to tend toward.

No question that you’re conciliatory, that you like to dialogue, but underneath that you’re an old-fashioned conservative; I mean, in the sense of a right-wing conservative.

Dolan hits this one out of the park.

I would bristle at being termed “right-wing,” but if somebody means enthusiastically committed and grateful for the timeless heritage of the Church, and feeling that my best service is when I try to preserve that and pass that on in its fullness and beauty and radiance, I’m a conservative, no doubt.

The exchange shows that folks like Morley Safer and the liberals who still largely run most of the major media outlets still don’t understand the liberating power of truth, humility, and especially the comfort in knowing the timelessness of Catholic truth.

Beyond that, however, is the assumption that in the Church, there is a “right-wing” position, which presently holds sway, and a “left-wing” position that is equally valid and may eventually win out. As though eventually in conclave or synod or council, the bishops will vote to allow women’s ordination, gay marriage, or any other liberal cause celebre. Dissenters on core doctrinal matters will always be dissenters.

This next video is from the “60 Minutes Overtime” Website, so while it has some great tidbits from the interview, it’s more of a story about the story, with another reporter reporting on Morley’s report and interviewing him about his interview with Dolan.

(Click “Continue Reading” not “Read Entire Post”)

More in-depth, and very accessible, answers to doctrinal questions come through on this one, but the “meta-discussion,” in which another reporter interviews Safer is also interesting.

Says Safer about Dolan: “He is a genuinely jovial, life-embracing, people loving man. There’s no question of that.”

The reporter does pointedly refer to the “right to gay marriage.” Interesting Orwellian re-cast of the language there, no?

But Dolan’s defense of the definition of marriage and the danger of tampering with the definition is instructive. Safer offered that allowing gay marriage wouldn’t attack heterosexual marriage, and wouldn’t alter the definition that much. Dolan came back with, “Where would, then, the tampering stop? I love my mom. But I don’t have the right to to marry her. Okay? So there are certain rights and attractions in life that are very beautiful, and very noble, but don’t entitle you to marriage.”

The rest went to women’s ordination, priestly celibacy, the Church being ever young while operating in every age.

The end was about his “salesmanship.” I appreciate what they mean by “salesmanship,” but it seems like such a tawdry term to use for evangelization.

The interview was what I expected from Dolan, and from Safer. Old-guard liberals expect those who adhere to Church teachings to be aloof, temperamental, irritated, and unapproachable, annoyed that someone would challenge their authority.

Dolan is just about the opposite of those things. Dolan, and a number of the other new-guard American bishops, are accessible, articulate, eager teachers, who recognize the great liberty that comes with preaching Christ, and him crucified, in and through the teachings of the Church, with a smile. They recognize that Christ is the worker of the work, they are the vessel. They recognize that the message is all important, not their personal advancement. They recognize that if they do their level best to cling to Christ, He will accomplish great things through them. And these realizations bring great liberty and joy.

60 MinutesIn spite of his central role in setting right what has been damaged by the sex abuse crisis, and in spite of having the responsibility of the Archdiocese of New York and the presidency of the USCCB, he remains one of the most light-spirited, gregarious, accessible, inspiring people you will ever meet.

Chesterton said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” Dolan has been described as “cherubic,” which referred more to his build and red cheeks, but…

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36 thoughts on “Archbishop Dolan Wins 60 Minutes

  1. lorraine says:

    I am not in favor of married priests; however when Archbishop Dolan said the rule went back to 33AD he may have forgotten that most of the apostles were married men.

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Lorraine, I don’t recall him saying that the celibacy rule went back to 33 A.D., but that the all-male priesthood did. Celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine. All-male priesthood is doctrinal.

  2. Gina Nakagawa says:

    This almost, almost makes me wish we had not given up television permanently! I love Archbishop Dolan. He is a courageous, Catholic (in every sense of the term). He is an intelligent, caring, outspoken shepherd of the flock. How fortunate New York is to have him.

  3. Carol says:

    “The exchange shows that folks like Morley Safer and the liberals who still largely run most of the major media outlets still don’t understand the liberating power of truth, humility, and especially the comfort in knowing the timelessness of Catholic truth.”
    I don’t expect them to “get it.” If they did, they’d be Catholic. What they really don’t get is history but I don’t blame them for that either as most of it has essentially been told by the Protestant or the atheist perspective. If they could step back and take a look they’d see that the Catholic Church is not the Episcopal Church or some other denomination that confirms people in their sin. If they were really looking they’d see nothing we hold true has changed. They aren’t looking closely enough and only listen to each other’s sideways views because if they did look closely they’d really have to fight themselves from becoming Catholic. Seek the truth and you will find it.

  4. Janice says:

    I am at a loss as to why people keep trying to change the Catholic Church. If you are pro-choice (or vote for anyone that is pro-choice), approve of contraceptive pills or devices (or vote for anyone who approves), agree with same sex unions recognized by the State (or vote for anyone who agrees with SSU), dont agree with the way the church deals with sexually abusive Priests, and are for woman being ordained then why would you say you are Catholic? I find it hypocritical to say the least. Doesnt it make more sense to be honest with yourself and God? I for one have not been in complete agreement with the church but found it peaceful and fulfilling to be part of mass….there was something about the beauty of it and feeling the presence of God. The music was beautiful and comforting. My church is very lucky to have a Father that is a fabulous speaker and knew how to make the sermon speak to me each week. After time as I stopped taking communion because I cannot in pure conscience recieve communion if any of the above is true…I realized that this church is not the place for me…It is not my place to change the church…I must seek other avenues. I am a believer in God and I have the want and need for his ever present guidance but the Catholic Church (or possibly any church for that matter) is not the place for me. I enjoyed Bishop Dolan immensley….he exudes all that the Catholic Church is about but that doesnt mean that I have to be a part of it any longer. The catholic church has spoken…it will not change…or entertain the thought of changing on issues that are important to me….so I can only decide to respect the Catholic Church and leave it to those who are ever so faithful to her. I know that God is all powerful and holds me close so I will pray that he leads me in the direction meant for me…I so wish that religion was not so embedded in politics…it takes away from its purity. Sad really…..

    1. Brian C says:

      “If you are pro-choice (or vote for anyone that is pro-choice), approve of contraceptive pills or devices (or vote for anyone who approves), agree with same sex unions recognized by the State (or vote for anyone who agrees with SSU), dont agree with the way the church deals with sexually abusive Priests, and are for woman being ordained then why would you say you are Catholic?”

      Um, one of those 5 things is not like the others. There have been mistakes with how the Church has dealt with sexually abusive priests, much of it justified. Hopefully the reforms put in place over the past decade have made these mistakes a thing of the past, but in contrast to the other items you mention, this is not a fundamental defining aspect of Catholic belief.

      1. Janice says:

        What do you mean by “much of it justified”? The way the church handled to child abuse scandal speaks volumes about the church….how anyone can trust the judgement of the catholic church after such a horrendous cover up is beyond me. If my child was abused at the next door neighbors house and then that neighbor covered up the abuse and then sent the abuser to work at my Childs daycare center…..and then I discovered what happened….that person would be in prosecuted in a criminal court and sentenced to jail. would I ever trust that neighbor again….ever? NO! I don’t see the difference here. I did see however a massive cover up at the expense of innocent children and then the church has the audacity to blame it on homosexuality….I am amazed that there are people still sitting in the pews…..handing over money to church that knowingly harbors criminals and would rather protect some perverted priest than protect my innocent child. If I send money to the Westboro Baptist Church and then sit on the curb while they scream “God Hates Fags” at a mother that is burying her son or daughter I then am a part of the hate they spread….I then become a silent supporter of these evil people. If I sit in the pew at my catholic church, and offer my money each week, and take communion, and sit quietly, I therefore am a part of the problem. IF….on the other hand the men involved in the abuse and cover up were sentenced to jail and never again allowed to step foot near anything
        catholic….I just may change my mind. although….in reality it’s a little late for that. I have left the church and according to Father Dolan (whom I think is awesome by the way) many of us are on the way out. I suspect more so because of the child molester cover up…..Not so much because a woman can’t be a priest.

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          I’m curious, Janice, how or why you think Dolan is awesome, given everything you said before saying that?

        2. Bruce says:

          Jan said: “If I sit in the pew at my catholic church, and offer my money each week, and take communion, and sit quietly, I therefore am a part of the problem” Well, as one hypocrite to another, you’re most welcome to join us, as there is always room for one more hypocrite in the Church. You seem to forget two things: Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church – it is His Body and He is the Head. Secondly, you seem to forget that only He and His Blessed Mother are perfect. The rest of us are miserable sinners…every single one of us and you too. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. If it is a hotel you’re looking for, you won’t find Christ nor will you find salvation. You need salvation every bit as any homosexual, pedophile, murderer, and thief in the world. You’re no better and you need the Church as desperately as any of us do. Outside of her, there is no salvation. Wake up, Jan, and smell the hypocrisy rising up from yourself before you point it out among ALL of the rest of us.

        3. Brian C says:

          “If I sit in the pew at my catholic church, and offer my money each week, and take communion, and sit quietly, I therefore am a part of the problem. IF….on the other hand the men involved in the abuse and cover up were sentenced to jail and never again allowed to step foot near anything catholic….I just may change my mind.”

          You do not have to sit quietly, The fact that many people did not sit quietly helped in bringing this situation to light.

          The reforms and policies instituted over the past decade by the US Bishops are being implemented; the coverups are a thing of the past. Just this month, a well known priest and national speaker, Fr. John Corapi, was accused of improper sexual behavior (not with minors and not a criminal accusation); he has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation. It may be that the accusations are false (as he claims) but the fact is that allegations of sexual misconduct by priests are not being taken lightly. If this is the only reason keeping you away from the Catholic Church, I pray that you reconsider.

    2. Tom Crowe says:

      Janice– Ahhh…. I hadn’t read the entire original post you offered, so I hadn’t seen this line yet: “I am a believer in God and I have the want and need for his ever present guidance but the Catholic Church (or possibly any church for that matter) is not the place for me.” —– Archbishop Dolan tells a story that he once received a letter from a couple who had decided to leave the Church because of problems they perceived with the Church. They were leaving to find the “perfect” church, which, of course, meant the perfect church according to their definition of perfect. He wrote back to them saying, in part, “I’m sorry that you’re leaving the Church. Good luck in finding the perfect church. But if you find it, don’t join it, because then it will no longer be perfect.” ———— God made us in His image and likeness, be careful you are not getting that backward. All Christians say we want to be like Christ, but he’s usually the Christ we want to be like. Christ founded a Church, it behooves us to stick to that Church no matter how many Judases there seem to be in it getting all the press.

  5. Sally Marshall says:

    Morley Safer just couldn’t think outside the box of the common media concerns about the Catholic Church and the Archbishop said they just live in 2 different worlds. I am a convert, and to me, entering the world of the Catholic Church meant entering a world of faith and hope and consolation, of gifts of love and peace of mind. That other world, where the illusion is that we are free to do whatever we want, regardless of God’s will is a Hollywood illusion and ultimately unsatisfying and tragic.

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