Details on the Big Installation

Just back from a press briefing in NYC on the upcoming installation of Archbishop Dolan on April 14 and 15.

Some tidbits:

  • Near the start of the Solemn Vespers prayer service at 7 p.m. on the 14th, Archbishop Dolan will literally knock on the great doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Various cardinals and archbishops and Bishop Dennis Sullivan, vicar general of the archdiocese, will be waiting just inside the doors. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal ambassador to the U.S., will present Dolan to Cardinal Egan, who will then  “welcome” his successor on behalf of the people of New York.
  • Officials are trying to figure out how to make the knock audible to the almost 2,500 people inside.
  • Dolan’s second-grade teacher, Sister Mary Bosco Daly, will be coming in from Ireland to give a short reading at the prayer service. She is 90.
  • Most dignitaries — religious and civil — are expected for the Mass of Installation on the 15th, not for Vespers the evening before.
  • Intercession prayers will be made in several languages, including Akan, Korean, Portuguese, German and Mandarin.
  • For each event, each parish in the archdiocese will be given two tickets for laypeople.
  • Sambi, the apostolic nuncio, will play a big role throughout.
  • There will be great ecumenical and interreligious participation — but no Jews. Passover will not conclude until April 15. But…on Monday the 20th, Dolan will take part in a Holocaust memorial service at Central Synagogue in NYC.
  • But you can expect Episcopalians, Lutherans, and plenty of Orthodox bishops, not to mention Muslims, Buddhists and others.
  • The opening process for the Mass on the 15 promises to be LONG and colorful.
  • Dolan is expected to use two historical croziers (the bishop’s staff), one that belonged to Archbishop Michael Corrigan (the boss from 1885 to 1902) and one that belonged to Cardinal Patrick Hayes (the boss from 1919 to 1938). Officials are looking for a pectoral cross with historical meaning.
  • The Mass, since it will be during the Easter season, will be the same Mass celebrated around the world that day. No tinkering.
  • Dolan will wear white vestments for the season.
  • At the Mass, the Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will sing Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus (and he’ll knock them out of the park, so to speak).
  • Dolan’s mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, and buddies will be in the front rows, and there will be plenty of Milwaukeeans around.
  • Among invitees to the Mass: mayors across the archdiocese; the governor, both U.S. senators, congresspeople, and others.
  • On the day he was named, Dolan said that he invited the president during a phone call of congratulations. But it does not appear that Obama is coming.
  • Dolan will become archbishop at the Mass when the chancellor of the archdiocese — former Rockland Vicar Monsignor William Belford — notarizes a letter from the pope.
  • Dolan will celebrate Mass at the cathdral on Sunday, April 19, the first Sunday after he takes over the show.
  • Joe Zwilling, longtime spokesman for the archdiocese, said that Dolan will “hit the ground running” with a packed schedule for his first few weeks in NY. We’ll know soon what he’ll be doing.
  • Cardinal Egan, Zwilling said, wants to stay in the background throughout.
  • Dolan will hold a press conference on the morning of the 15th. Yeah, he likes to talk.
  • Dolan will be in Rome on June 29 to get his new pallium, a wool vestment given to metropolitan archbishops, who oversee neighboring dioceses in a region.
  • That’s enough for now….

Joel and me

The differences between me and Joel Osteen are clear, aren’t they?

He looks relaxed, at ease, hair shimmering, ready to go.

I’m tense, hunched shoulders, semi-perplexed, with a near buzz-cut.

Yeah, that’s me on the left.

I got a chance to sit down yesterday with one of the nation’s most prominent preachers — the most prominent? — to talk about his upcoming gig at the NEW Yankee Stadium. On Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m., he will become the first non-baseball player to “perform” at the new house.

How did Osteen get this opportunity? Apparently, the Yankees reached out to him. But Osteen told me that he had no idea WHO within the Yankee family decided to turn centerfield over to a Houston preacher.

When I say “turn over,” I don’t mean for free. Osteen’s people are paying a hefty fee to rent the stadium. But it’s a great opportunity, nonetheless. I heard that the Rolling Stones inquired about breaking in the new room, but Osteen — who has some of Jagger’s charisma, I would say — got the spot.

I’ll be writing a profile of Osteen soon, in advance of Yankee Stadium, of course. I talked to him about lots of interesting stuff — interfaith relations, the former Catholics who attend his church, all those unchurched folks out there.

He is certainly a unique guy. Pastor of the largest church in the country. Best-selling author. Beloved by conservatives and liberals alike, despite (because of?) his unwillingness to talk politics or political issues.

He is either truly humble or does a great job pretending to be. He says that his gift is to lift people up with a positive, empowering message — and that’s it. He’ll leave all the other stuff to other preachers with different gifts.

And he can’t quite explain his appeal. It must be God, he told me, because it’s not him.

More to come.

Dolan: Notre Dame loses with Obama

So, Archbishop Dolan is making news before he gets to the Big City.

He told a Milwaukee TV station in a farewell interview that Notre Dame made a “big mistake” by inviting President Obama to give its commencement address: “They did, and I say that as one who loves and respects Notre Dame. They made a big mistake.”

You can watch the video here.

Dolan also said:


There’s a lot of things that President Obama does that we can find ourselves allied with and working with him on, and we have profound respect for him and pray with him and for him. But in an issue that is very close to the heart of Catholic world view, namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb, he has unfortunately taken a position very much at odds with the Church.


A taste of what’s to come from the Archbishop of New York?

Only two weeks from tomorrow, many eyes will be on St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the welcoming prayer service for the new boss. The next day, the Mass of Installation.

The Archdiocese is holding a press briefing tomorrow morning on what’s to come.

Also, EWTN — the Catholic TV network — will air everything: Solemn Vespers at 6:30 p.m. on April 14 and the Mass at 1:30 p.m. on April 15. I think that every TV system around carries EWTN, so this is big news for those who can’t make to the cathedral but want to see it all.

A modern disaster?

A thought for Monday morning before I head to NYC for an interesting interview…

I was talking to a Presbyterian pastor over the weekend who noted that churches have become real good at responding to natural disasters. The horrible flooding in Fargo provides several good examples.

But the time is coming, the pastor said, when churches may have to respond to the tumult caused by the Recession in a similar way…

Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly dead at 79

I learned a little while ago about the death of Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, the former longtime president of the College of New Rochelle and a very well-known and respected figure around here.

She was 79 and apparently had had a heart attack. I’m sure that many people in and around New Rochelle are heartbroken.

I talked to Sister Dorothy several times over the years and was always impressed by her smarts, good humor and graciousness. She was one of those people with unlimited energy.

She served as president of CNR for 25 years, retiring in 1997. She was currently serving as provincial of her order, the Ursuline Sisters of the Eastern Province.

Sister Dorothy was, what might be called, a progressive Catholic. She loved her faith, but wasn’t always thrilled with how it was…run.

And she spoke her mind about it.

The picture is from 2006, when she received the Yitzhak Rabin Peacemaker Award from the Coalition for Mutual Respect in New Rochelle.

On Wednesday, the Coalition for Mutual Respect will sponsor a “Liberation Freedom Seder Dinner” at Iona College. No doubt, Sister Dorothy will be missed.

Witness Village

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, long based in Brooklyn, are planning to move many of their operations to Ramapo.

My colleague James Walsh reports that the Witnesses want to build an administrative and residential complex for about 850 people.

That’s a mini city.

The Witnesses bought a 248-acre site in February for $11.5 million.

Not surprisingly, residents are concerned about the property leaving the tax rolls.

Jewish spirituality on the rise

A new study shows that Jews 35 and under are becoming more spiritual.

Synagogue 3000 — a group that promotes more vital and approachable synagogues — says that the “spirituality gap” between Jews and Christians is closing.

What’s responsible for the rise in Jewish spiritual-ness?

Rising numbers of Orthodox Jews. Makes sense.

The study also cites Jews who are the children of interfaith couples, who have the example of Christian relatives.

“These family members appear to render their Jewish relatives more open to, and comfortable with, the ideas, expressions and language of spirituality,” says a statement from Synagogue 3000.

The statement also notes: “Even non-Orthodox Jews with two Jewish parents (a shrinking population sector, albeit still a majority) are more receptive to spiritual language than older counterparts.”

Even non-Orthodox Jews with two Jewish parents are open to spirituality!

A reserved ‘thank you’ from Cardinal Egan

I’ve long admired Cardinal Egan’s columns in Catholic New York, the newspaper of the archdiocese.

He can be a fine story-teller, it seems to me. I’ve particularly liked several columns about past pilgrimages and various encounters with interesting people of all sorts.

I was once assured that he did indeed write them himself and that he did so at a manual typewriter, with great care.

So I was kind of looking forward to his grand finale — his final column, which appears in the new CNY.

Also, his recent statements to a radio interviewer about the need for the Catholic Church to consider optional celibacy for priests had me thinking that he might go out with a bang.


His final column — called “A Thank You” — is a rather muted piece that reveals little.

The cardinal expresses his admiration for the various groups who make up the archdiocese — priests, permanent deacons, religious men and women, the laity, people of other faiths, the parishes.

Then he reiterates a few rather obvious priorities — education, Catholic Charities, health care, the seminary system.

He thanks the offices of the archdiocese for helping him, stating that “Thanks to them, the Archdiocese is free of debt, fiscally secure, properly structured and looking forward into a bright future.”

Then he wraps things up, somewhat abruptly, with graciousness:


There is much more that I could and should say. However, I fear I may have already worn out my welcome in the pages of this highly respected and growing Archdiocesan publication. Permit me to conclude by simply assuring the People of God of the Archdiocese of New York that I will never celebrate a Mass without mentioning them by name to the Lord. To have served as their bishop has been an honor and privilege beyond anything I might have ever imagined.


And that’s all, folks.

Catholic Archbishop Burke calls for pressure on fellow bishops, then recants (sort of)

This is plain weird.

Yesterday, Randall Terry, the longtime anti-abortion activist, held a news conference at the National Press Conference in Washington to share a videotaped interview he did with Archbishop Raymond Burke, formerly of St. Louis and now head of the Vatican supreme court in Rome.

In the videotape, Burke takes the very unusual step of urging pro-lifers to press U.S. bishops to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who are pro-choice.

Burke seemed to be calling many of his fellow bishops on the carpet.

You can see a video of the interview HERE in two parts.

Today, National Catholic Reporter is saying that Burke has released a statement apologizing for his comments. So far, I can’t find the statement anywhere. ADD: HERE IT IS.

NCR says that Burke says that he only gave the interview to Terry “to share with pro-life workers.” Burke says that Terry’s use of the interview, as part of a media campaign to put pressure on bishops, is “objectionable.”

NCR says Burke’s statement includes this: “If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.”

What am I missing here? Is Burke saying that he wants people to put pressure on bishops to withhold Communion — but he doesn’t want the bishops know he takes this stand?

What is another way to interpret this?

Budget crisis extends to death

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s medical examiner warns that proposed budget cuts could threaten Jewish and Muslim burial rites.

Dr. Charles Hirsch says the cuts could hamper his office in its efforts to expedite the burials of observant Jews and Muslims, whose religions call for burials within 24 hours of death.

The city has ordered the medical examiner’s proposed operating budget of about $80 million for the fiscal year beginning in July cut by $7 million. And the state has threatened to withhold about $18 million in reimbursements.

Hirsch told a City Council committee hearing Wednesday the budget cuts could delay the issuing of death certificates needed for burials and force his bureaus outside Manhattan to close.

The city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner opened in 1918 and was the first such governmental agency in the United States.