Pope Francis and a facelift for the Church

At 64, Cardinal Timothy Dolan is poised to be a force in Catholic life for a long time.

In late August, he sat down for a wide-ranging interview about Pope Francis, anti-Christian persecution, the Obama administration, the Church’s sexual abuse scandals, hard choices in New York, and more.

In Part 1 of Crux’s exclusive interview, which took place at his residence in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dolan talks about the “Francis effect,” including the non-ideological bishops this pope seems to want … and the climate of refreshing honesty – and occasionally irritating uncertainty — he seems to be creating in the Vatican.

Crux: Pope Francis is almost at the 18-month mark. What grade do you give him?

Dolan: Oh, I’d give him an unqualified A. I thank God for him every day, because he’s a gift to the Church.

What’s very clear to me is that he really listened to the General Congregations that anticipated the conclave.

[Note: These are daily meetings of the cardinals in Rome before the papal election, designed to work out the main issues facing the Church.]

He was extraordinarily attentive, he listened carefully, and we cardinals aren’t surprised by what he’s doing because we can recall that it was all talked about on the floor.

Seriously, no surprises? You weren’t surprised, for example, by ‘Who am I to judge?’

Yes, there would be some surprises, but they’re pleasant surprises.

My biggest surprise, and it’s a good one, is that he’s moving at the speed at which he is.

He’s got a beautiful blend of humility and self-confidence, and he himself is willing to do what he encourages us to do, which is to not be afraid to have some accidents.

There are moments when he might rethink … ‘I was misinterpreted there, people took me the wrong way.’

But it’s well worth those periodic misinterpretations, because the general record has been such a smashing success. Continue reading


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