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If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Welcoming Archbishop Timothy Dolan



Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to welcome Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the New York Archdiocese as retiring Cardinal Egan’s replacement. In light of this appointment, it is reasonable to assume that Archbishop Dolan will be elevated to the position of cardinal very soon.

When Archbishop Dolan replaced Archbishop Rembert Weakland several years ago as leader of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, I recall there was a lot of nervous apprehension, because Dolan had a reputation for strict adherence to orthodoxy. I, for one, was sorry to see Weakland leave, despite the controversy that consumed him (involved in a relationship). In brief, Weakland was one of the few members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy I was able to communicate openly with, and he and I exchanged a few e-mails on the issue of priestly celibacy and what it would take for the pontiff to change this outdated policy. In addition, Weakland and I shared a love of classical music, and I often praised his abilities as a composer and history buff. Generally, priests of the Milwaukee Archdiocese like him, so there were some anxious moments when Timothy Dolan took over as reigning archbishop.

Despite Timothy Dolans’ reputation as an adherent to strict orthodoxy, he nevertheless proved himself to be a pastoral leader during his tenure in Milwaukee. While he was not afraid to use disciplinary tactics when necessary, he also believed that negotiation should be employed prior to any consideration of canonical punishments. So, when 25% of Milwaukee’s priests signed a petition in favor of optional celibacy, Dolan did not punish them, but rather simply urged them to follow the dictates of the Vatican’s long-standing policy of mandatory celibacy. More recently, when a Milwaukee woman became ordained a priest, Dolan did not immediately threaten excommunication or issue sanctions. He rather invited her to have a dialogue with him.

It is reported that Archbishop Dolan has a sense of humor and an aura of warmth. I am sure this will be a refreshing change of pace for priests in the New York Archdiocese, many of whom signed a recent letter, urging Cardinal Egan to resign, due to his being unresponsive to the needs of the clergy. Furthermore, it is my hope Dolan will be more attentive to the concerns of women in the archdiocese.

When it was announced Timothy Dolan was coming to New York, a friend asked if I was going to make an attempt to see him to discuss my status as a married priest. My response was that it is extremely unlikely that Dolan would meet with me, because of the controversy it would cause. My sense is that at least during his first year as the leader of New York Catholics, he will want to steer clear of issues that would generate headlines, such as married priests and the ordination of women. I nevertheless want to wish him well, and will pray that he proves to be a pastoral leader of the New York Archdiocese, as opposed to his creating a bully pulpit.

To be sure, Archbishop Dolan will have his hands full. Simply getting to know the priests of the New York Archdiocese, in addition to the multitudes of deacons, women religious, and laity who serve in leadership positions, will take many months, considering that New York is the second largest archdiocese in the country. At age 59, Dolan is relatively young to have such a high-profile position and it is therefore reasonable to assume that his duration as the leader of New York Catholics will at least be as long as the tenure of Cardinal O’Connor.

This has been an attempt on my part to extend an olive branch to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and let us all pray that he serves New Yorkers well.

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