February 17th, 2012
05:43 PM ET

Why cardinal-to-be Timothy Dolan matters

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - At the Vatican on Saturday, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be elevated to the College of Cardinals. The move will further cement Dolan's standing as America's top Catholic.

"This is the most exclusive club in the Catholic Church," said John Allen, CNN's Vatican analyst, of Dolan's elevation. As a cardinal, Dolan will join the ranks of those who will choose the next pope.  The College of Cardinals was established in 1150.  Its main role is to advise the current pope and pick his successor.  The elevation alone brings speculation that Dolan himself could one day be elected to lead the global church.

"In many cases you also become, at least informally, a candidate to be the next pope, because the next pope will almost certainly come from the roughly 120 cardinals under the age of 80," Allen said.  Once a Cardinal reaches 80, he is no longer able to participate in the election of the pope or enter the secret conclave where cardinals gather when the time comes to select the next pope, typically upon the prior pope's death.

Dolan will remain the head of the Archdiocese of New York, which includes 2.6 million Catholics in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and parts of New York north of the Bronx. The diocese also includes St. Patrick's Cathedral, one of the most famous church buildings in the United States, where Dolan often celebrates Mass. He is also head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, putting him in regular touch with President Barack Obama on issues like contraception coverage in the new health care law.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

On the streets of New York, Dolan is equal parts pastor, celebrity and politician. He is equally affable and gregarious whether speaking to Mayor Micheal Bloomberg or a New York City firefighter.

Dolan fits well into the culture of New York City. He is regarded by reporters as incredibly media savvy and has the ability to communicate his message in resonating sound bites.

When his elevation was announced, he told reporters it was more about his archdiocese than it was about him.

"It's almost as if Pope Benedict XVI is putting the red hat of the cardinal on top of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty or home plate at Yankee Stadium," he said.

The New York archdiocese has long been headed by a cardinal, as are many other major metropolitan centers around the world.

When Benedict announced in 2009 that Dolan would be moved from Milwaukee, where he was archbishop, to New York, Allen said "it was written in the stars" Dolan was on his way to becoming a cardinal.

"Had he not been a Catholic bishop he probably would have been a United States senator or a corporate CEO or the host of a late-night TV talk show," said Allen, who is also a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

"There is no doubt Timothy Dolan of New York is a rapid climber in the Catholic church," Allen said. "Benedict has indicated in every way a pope can he wants this guy to play a prominent role in Catholic affairs not only in the U.S. but around the world."

In his role in New York, Dolan has faced criticism from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The organization has called him the "Teflon prelate."

"He's charming and affable but as bad or worse than most bishops when it comes to clergy sex crimes and coverups," David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, said in an e-mail after Dolan was installed in New York. "His deceitful and secretive moves to help a serial predator priest quietly resign in August are particularly upsetting."

The group claimed Dolan allowed a prominent priest to resign, despite claims from at least nine men who have accused him of molesting them when they were boys, the group said.

In 2008, Dolan's predecessor found the allegations credible and suspended the priest, the group said.

At the time, Dolan's office declined to respond to CNN's questions about the priest.

But Dolan has responded to allegations of sexual abuse in the broader church and from the pulpit at St Patrick's Cathedral. He has said the church and the pope deserve a critical examination. "All we ask is that it be fair and the church not be singled out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religious organization, institution and family in the world," he said.

Rumors of Vatican power struggle

Dolan will continue on as president of the bishops conference for two years. The group of bishops addresses many needs of the church, from how to handle changes in the liturgy to acting as the public policy arm of the church.

In January, Dolan burst onto the political stage. After closed-door conversations with the White House going back to November, the cardinal-in-waiting challenged the White House over an insurance mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that forced religious institutions, except for houses of worship, to provide insurance plans that included coverage for contraceptives.

In a video posted on the bishops' website, Dolan called the move a "foul ball." He led the charge to push back against the policy. He and bishops across the country read letters from the pulpit decrying the policy as a violation of religious liberty.

As the debate heated up on the political stage, Dolan kept up the pressure, telling reporters at the opening of a charitable site in New York, "The federal government should do what it's traditionally done since July 4, 1776, namely back out of intruding in the internal affairs of the church."

Eventually, the White House changed course and extended the religious exemption to other religious organizations and will force insurers to provide and pay for contraceptives to people who work for religious organizations who oppose contraceptives.

Supporters of the president's plan have called it an "elegant solution," but some religious conservatives called it a "flawed compromise." Dolan first said it was a "first step in the right direction" but later said the revised policy still raises "serious moral concerns."

"The bishops' role is to protect vigilantly the institution of the church, and what it says, what the theories are for how we should be best as the people of God," Sister Simone Campbell said. Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington. While the group agrees with the bishops on immigration and poverty, her group opposed the bishops' stand on the HHS policy.

"These very points are the tension points in our church because it's the application of faith to a democratic culture," she said.

While the bishops opposed the Affordable Care Act and the new White House contraception rule, they have worked with the Obama administration on other issues.

“We congratulate Cardinal-designate Dolan on his historic achievement," press secretary Jay Carney said. "The Obama administration has worked closely with the Cardinal-designate Dolan and the Catholic Church on a wide range of initiatives to promote strong communities and serve the common good. We appreciate Cardinal-designate Dolan’s leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him and church leaders to strengthen our nation and promote justice and peace throughout the world.”

The administration is sending several representatives to the Saturday morning ceremony at the Vatican. In addition to Dolan, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore will also get his red hat and be elevated to a cardinal.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. sneaker isabel marant

    Most folks buy Dvd videos, because you should enjoy all of them. sneaker isabel marant http://www.isabelmarantsneakersolde.org

    April 15, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  2. SouthernCelt

    Rave on Atheists, better than you have tried to bring down the Church over the millennia, and look, 22 new Cardinals.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  3. David

    Great set of images and, as usual, a load of other paocmrisons waiting to be done.One point of issue with Dynamic above. The big problem with DDT is not that it gets used, but how it gets used. Impregnated mozzie nets is one thing (anyone done any longitudinal studies on birth defects in the children of people who sleep in a DDT environment as children?) but random bulk spraying in the environment to kill the pupae and anything else downwind is NOT a good idea. Rachel Carson was not kidding.While we are getting squirrely about toxic environments, check (Linked from )

    March 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  4. RightTurnClyde

    AT the time that monarchs ruled Europe and Russia the Roman Catholic church exercised power in all of the monarchies of Europe. Their bishops were in the "curia" of he western monarchies and they had RCC nobility (cardinals) in all of the royal courts advising the monarch and speaking for the Pope. One by one the monarchy's fell .. The guillotine spoke to the French nobility. Dictators and Kaisers and Czars (Cesars) and finally European parliamentary governments. There is no real need for cardinals in contemporary Europe or North America. But by the appointments you can see a shift toward India, China and Africa (not Latin America). They realize that N. America is lost. Europe was lost (to RCC) decades ago.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      N. America is lost? Is that why it is hard to find a parking space at Mass on Sunday?

      March 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  5. richard Lloyd

    did they tweet about it?

    February 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  6. Usman Akhtar


    Watch these videos to see who your Lord, Your Savior, is truly and who take Jesus back after his Cruisifiction. You are the people who enslaved themselves in the slavery of the people who cruisify Jesus. I Challenge you to deny these videos and the massage in these videos. Paradise, who’s Paradise? Think about your kids and what they believe in. Listen to these creatures very carefully. These creatures are saying the name of their and every bodies Creator. May be GOD wants to give you a chance? I hope you won't call these creatures terrorist. Good Luck.

    Watch these videos.
    Watch where this Red car is going.
    Usman Akhtar

    February 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Theophilus

      Looks like the psych ward just got a computer lab.

      February 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      usman..he should help you to spell correctly, that would be a start.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • steward

      "Cruisifiction" – freudian slip in spelling those last two syllables, possibly?

      February 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Reality

      What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

      And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

      The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

      Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

      Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

      February 21, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  7. Theophilus

    Can someone tell me why there are so many vicious, hateful, and crude atheists who flock to this BELIEF blog? Just read through the comments and you can see where this country would be if they got to run things. The 100 million the commies killed would be child's play to them.

    February 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, right, because "Christians" never murder, rape, steal, hate, or cheat in any way.


      February 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Theophilus..diatribe to make you feel better. What doctrine do Atheists have ? can you list them ? We do not believe in god, any of them...you may have the wrong god you pray to ..you cannot know for sure so be careful...it may
      be a muslim god..

      February 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Because the Internet goes everywhere these days instead of just Universities and the Corporations that were connected to them(Ahh, the good old days :-)). Instead of working for a living they browse the Web and spew their bile to anyone that will listen or read it. No different than the Romans 2000 years ago I imagine. Love or Hate, your choice and always has been.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  8. Ole Dinsey

    Who is the leader?

    February 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      ...of the Club that's made for you and me, M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e. Mickey Mouse (Donald Duck)....

      March 16, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  9. Reality

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,

    Starting your day on the right foot with a bit of 21st century rational thinking. Please promulgate it to your NYC brethren during your next sermon and/or news release:

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    February 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Delta

      Thanks for clearing all those questions up!

      February 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • ......

      Hit report abuse on all reality garbage postings

      February 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      Interesting. Everyone believes in Julius Caesars battles, yet despite hundreds of witnesses people refuse to believe in Him or His resurrection, or God's other miracles since then. OK then, if Jesus and His Mother's bodies are still here, where are they? Given their importance to thousands do you really think they didn't know where they were buried or died? Or was it a great conspiracy to deceive the future? Very crafty, these uneducated fishermen.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  10. jesus liked it up da backdoor

    i love banging bible thumpers!
    those women are demons in the sack!
    they will do anything!
    i like to bang them doggie style while they read the bible out loud!

    February 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  11. Redrum

    Why does Cardinal Dolan matter? Duh!

    What was it that Stalin asked, "How many divisions does the Pope have?"
    They all find out, don't they.

    February 18, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Colin

      Stalin won World War II, ruled over the Soviet Union for a generation and died peacefully while still in power. He is still adored by millions of Georgians and Russians. What exactly did he "find out" about the magic powers of the Papacy?

      February 18, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Stalin won WWII? Killer Joe, murderer of 12 Million people? Or did he just defend the Soviet Union and grab as much land as he could? Communism and its Atheist ideals are dead and gone. I would say its demise was predicted by some Portuguese children in 1914 but I bet you wouldn't believe that either.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 18, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • jesus wore womens undies

      i pray every night that you get gang r a p e d by a group of ni gg az that have just been released from prison
      you will never have any probs taking a dump after that!

      February 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      fetid corpse recognized in 1st reply

      February 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jacobus

      I would like to add a few thoughts to the debtae from the perspective of having spent thirty years teaching religion in a Catholic school in England between 1970 and 2000. It is interesting that, in general, priests in parishes are required to preach for a relatively short time at Sunday Mass(es) to a self-selected audience, who have no immediate chance to reply. Contrast this with the situation of the average seconday level RE teacher who is required to teach at least 6 lessons (40-45 mins each) per day to various classes of young people, who are for the most part a captive audience. These groups may number as many as 32 and groups could be from 11 to 18 years old. Typically, one lesson may be on the parables of Jesus with the 11 year olds, followed immediately by a session on the bearing of theories of Wittengenstein on understanding religious language with the Religious Studies Advanced level (pre-University) students. I don't think I speak only for myself when I say that we teachers do not always succeed, nor are we always on good form, despite our best intentions. No doubt some of our pupils would be judged non-catechized (horses to water ..) So much depends on family background, parish situation, developmental stages, previous experience of religious education and so on. It is very hard and challenging work, but often very rewarding to engage with young people in this way. One thing I can say with certainty is that whilst, of course, the task of the Catholic teacher in a Catholic school is to take seriously his/her part in passing on the Faith, this cannot be done successfully solely by telling . Many more approaches need to be taken, not least taking seriously the young people's questions, doubts, insights and experiences. It is hard to hear our leaders and others issue what seem to be blanket condemnations of the work done in schools. Just a few weeks actually working in a school might make many think again.

      March 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      @Jacobus: Catholic School in England? Land of State sponsored prejudice against Catholics, imprisonment without trial, Guilt before Innocence? Thank God my ancestors left it. American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God, for which I thank Him every day.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is merely a pseudo-church (she is no real Christian Church).

    During the first centuries after Christ the Church of Rome was an ordinary Christian Church and here bishops did not dare to claim that they would be the highest bishops on earth. According to Luther, Gregory the Great (540-604 a. D.) was the last good pope of the Church of Rome, in so far he refused the ti-tle "bishop of all bishops". 607 a. D. the Roman See was made the highest See on earth by the criminal emperor or usurper Phocas.

    After Gregory the Great the RCC began to corrupt gradually. She more and more dissociated from the Church of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), which was the legitimate Church and mainly represented by the See of Alexandria (Egypt), the See of Antioch (Syria), the See of Constantinople (Greece), the See of Jerusalem (Palestine) and the See of Rome (Italy). All these churches together were the worldwide Christian Church. The bishops of this church sometimes met on ecu-menical councils, in order to discuss difficult matters of the doctrine. It was not possible that any lousy single bishop, who called himself pope, made decisions for the whole church. Important decisions were made on ecu-menical councils. Furthermore the Churches of the single countries were autonomous and not under the rule of the Roman bishop. There was no Roman Catholic hierarchy.

    The seperation of the RCC c-u-l-minated in the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. Charles the Great was the first emperor of this empire, which was in fact a pseudo-empire, because the real and true successor of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire with its capital Constantinople and the Church of the empire. When Charles the Great was crowned emperor by pope Leo III a pseude-empire with a pseudo-church (the Roman Catholic Church) came into being. It was a crime that Leo III crowned Charles the Great emperor, because the legitimate emperor was at Constantinople (empress Irene) and the legitimate Church was the whole church of the Eastern Roman Empire.

    In the course of time the popes did not only claim to be bishops of all bishops, but even regarded themselves higher than the emperor. Beginning with pope Gregory VII (1020 – 1085 a. D.) the popes ruled the whole Europe (Holy Roman Empire) for 666 years (indeed the number of the Beast). After 666 years the rule of the popes was finished by the enlightenment, which was strongly promoted the the Protestant King of Pruzzia Frederic the Great. Frederic finished the rule of the Habsburgians, which were subordinate to the pope.

    Regretably the Eastern Roman Empire was completely distroyed by the Muslim Arabs and Turks. Together with Eastern Roman Empire the Church of the Ecu-mene (civilized world) perished. All the Christian regions became Muslim.

    Europe is the successor of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. Hence, Europe is a pseude-civilisation like its predecessor with a pseudo-church (the RCC).

    The RCC has still too much influence in Europe and we need a second enlightenment to disempower her. Furthermore we need a ecu-menical council of the Christian Churches in order to restore the good old doctrine and the good old church.

    Furthermore, we need an authority, which promotes the Christian Church. It is one of the core tasks of the authority to protect and promote the Church. It is a calamity and apocalyptical that the mordern authorities are totally profane or godless and promote godlessness.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Reality

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      February 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.