Monday, February 23, 2009

Dolan heading to the Big Apple

Archbishop Dolan was easily forgiven when he jokingly claimed resistance to the idea of moving to Milwaukee. “Oh Lord, not me. I don't know how to drive in the snow.” But other factors might have caused him to pause when the call came with his appointment to Milwaukee. Dolan’s successor may pause at his appointment, too, as Dolan will be a tough act to follow.

It is now easy to forget the demoralized and dispirited nature of the local Catholic faithful after so much scandal under Dolan’s predecessor, Archbishop Rembert Weakland. Bad enough Weakland represented the weak theology of the Church’s leftwing, but he piled on a personal scandal on top of the already damaging scandal of priestly sexual abuse. When it was revealed that Weakland helped cover up much of the sexual abuse and shielded the guilty, and then had his own sexual scandal, many in the pews were left to wonder what kind of institution to which they belonged. The damage continues from that awful era, as the Archdiocese continues to try to make restitution to the victims and, as Milwaukee Magazine reported, fundraising continues to lag.

Dolan’s orthodoxy was contrary to the desires of many of the priests in the archdiocese. Many actively resisted, and even issued a letter calling for an end to priestly celibacy.

At the same time, some would have preferred a stronger reaction from Dolan. But while Dolan did not deny Communion to wayward politicians or restore the Cathedral to it’s pre-renovation state, Dolan’s eloquent persistence in teaching the traditional church doctrine was a welcome change over his predecessor.

Dolan’s ability to reach out into the community, his large presence and character, will be terribly missed by the entire community, not just Catholics. His ebullient nature may not have healed all rifts but it restored the sagging spirits of a flock in need.

Such is the nature of New York’s gain and our loss that it’s hard not to be selfish at a time like this. Our prayers go with the Archbishop to his new assignment, although some wit will no doubt observe, “First Sabathia, then Favre, now Dolan? How much more do we have to give to New York?”