Pope Francis is restoring heart of the church, says Cardinal Dolan


Catholic News Service

YONKERS, N.Y. — Pope Francis’ words are an examination of conscience and a necessary prodding that keeps New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan tied to the vision and mission of Pentecost.

Speaking at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, the cardinal quipped, “Every morning, I’m almost dreading to see what he preached about, because I know it’s going to be a push, I know it’s going to be just a little bit of a prod.”

The New York prelate spoke at an event Nov 24 to close out the Year of Faith.

St. Joseph’s, in the Dunwoodie section of Yonkers in Westchester County, is the major seminary for the Archdiocese of New York and the Brooklyn and Rockville Centre dioceses. Cardinal Dolan’s address was the final event of a lecture series at the seminary celebrating the Year of Faith.

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives for his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Nov. 27. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Expanding on a metaphor he developed earlier this fall, Cardinal Dolan said the three most recent popes exemplify the soul, mind and heart of the mystical body of Christ.

Blessed John Paul II provided a soul for the church and the world by recovering the primacy of the supernatural, Cardinal Dolan said. “Everything he did came under the chapter heading, ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,’” the cardinal said.

He called the late pope a man of intense prayer and intestinal fortitude who presided over the restoration of the exhausted interior life of the church’s soul. “John Paul wanted to return the church to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where we were walking with Jesus in discipleship,” Cardinal Dolan said. “For him, Jesus Christ is the answer to the question posed by every human life.”

As the mind of the church, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the world that reason and faith are not enemies, but best friends, Cardinal Dolan said. “In a world of new atheism where a secular culture on steroids tries to reduce belief to a private hobby at best, or to a silly, oppressive, medieval superstition at worst, reason itself shows us the truth and point to God.”

Reason in partnership with revelation and faith is liberating and affirming of all that is good, true and beautiful in the human project, he said.

The church is an engine of genuine human progress, Cardinal Dolan said. “The church’s high intellectual tradition is hardly some museum piece but as timely as they come.”

“Pope Benedict would renew the intellectual wattage of the church through affirmative orthodoxy,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The church is not in the business of saying, ‘No!’ all the time. The church is in the business of saying, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ to everything that is good and liberating and ennobling and enlightening and sacred in the human person.”

He said Pope Benedict was a prophetic voice who called on believers to be a creative minority that embraces the good, the true and the beautiful.

Cardinal Dolan said Pope Francis is restoring the heart of the church. The pope’s heart breaks for refugees and those in need and goes out to those at the side of the road, he said. Francis is also unafraid to speak of tenderness and wants the church to be like the colonnade of Bernini that encircles St. Peter’s Square the way a mother’s arms enfold her children, the cardinal said.

Cardinal Dolan said each of the three popes had the traits he associated with heart, mind and soul, but certain of the traits dominated at the times they were needed.

Pope Francis has heightened the insights of his two predecessors by focusing on reintroducing the world to the person of Jesus Christ before concentrating on doctrine and morality, which are very important, he said.