Timothy Dolan came to town with a hammer in his hand . My column in the New York Post on the latest moves by Archbishop Dolan:

Beginnings are such difficult things, and a bishop always has to struggle to find his public place in a new town—especially on a stage as hard as New York’s. He can do what Dolan has done, and twinkle his eye as hard as the old actor Barry Fitzgerald. He can do what Cardinal Spellman did, filling the Godfather role, a Renaissance prince turned American powerbroker. He can be Heidi’s Grandfather, the curmudgeon with the obvious heart of gold, an act Cardinal O’Connor was not above playing from time to time. He can even be Casper the Friendly Ghost, rejecting the media and refusing, as Cardinal Egan did, the traditional job of the archbishop of New York as the public face of American Catholicism.

For all of them, however, the hammer must sometimes fall. Catholicism is not about popularity, and it’s not about being loved by the media, and it’s not about refusing to promote strong beliefs. Being Catholic means something; it has consequences in how one views the slaughter of abortion, and the injury done to the poor by the collapse of the institution of marriage, and the threat of an emerging medical culture that would rather eliminate the weak and the elderly with euthanasia than care for them.

The revelations in 2001 of decades of priest scandals revealed the existence of a corrupt clergy across the nation, and the Catholic Church watched a now middle-aged generation of believers slip away from the pews. In the midst of all this, how could an archbishop of New York not need to pick some fights? Especially one determined to restore the national prominence that the archdiocese of New York has traditionally had. “America’s bishop,” John Paul II called Cardinal O’Connor, which is what every archbishop of New York should be named . . . . Read the rest.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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