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Soul, Head and Heart: Cardinal Dolan on the Continuity of John Paul, Benedict and Francis
By Deacon Keith Fournier
October 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Cardinal is willing to contend with the opponents of the Church, but he always does so with velvet gloves and without personal animosity. He confounds his opponents with Truth and wins them over with the Love of God. He reveals Jesus, the one whom he serves with fidelity and happiness. At this critical time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, Cardinal Dolan is a gift to both Church and Nation. He is also a model for all of us; no matter our state in life or vocation. This is a missionary age and we are all missionaries.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - My readers know of my deep admiration for Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. I have written numerous articles on him over the years.
When our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, out of humility, stepped away from the Chair of Peter into his monastic enclosure, I made my opinion known to friends that I thought Cardinal Dolan would have made a wonderful successor. However, the Holy Spirit had a different plan. We are truly blessed to have Pope Francis at this time in Church history, a new missionary age.
Cardinal Dolan loves the Lord and the Church with an infectious enthusiasm borne of a sincere, living faith in the Risen Jesus Christ. Anyone who has been around him or watched him in interviews and public appearances, experiences the obvious, this man is filled with the joy of the Lord. He is an evangelizer, to the bone. He has a relationship with the Lord which is contagious. We need many more Bishops like him.
He is also a preeminent Catholic voice in the United States and around the whole world. This is a man comfortable in his own skin, at ease with the use of the media, filled with the Holy Spirit, and eager to share the Gospel as it is found in its fullness within the Catholic Church - with all men and women. He has a big heart, open to all, and a special charism of joy.
Bishop Dolan began the challenging assignment of leading the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in June of 2002 by proclaiming those wonderful words of the late John Paul II, the words of the Angel to Our Lady, Be Not Afraid, when he addressed the faithful. Any observer of the work of Bishops must attest that, given the state of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee when he was appointed, he demonstrated his full palate of gifts during his tenure there.
Wherever he serves, he is dearly loved by his priests and deacons. That is because he has a pastor's heart and knows the importance of a Bishop's relationship with his clergy. The clergy under his authority know he really cares about them, as a father and a brother. Sadly, that is not always the case in the relationship between Bishops and their clergy.
He is also a dynamic and inspiring communicator and solid teacher of the truths as taught by the Magisterium of the Church. Finally, he is a true leader, both naturally and supernaturally. People genuinely enjoy being around him and want to follow him. Noone and no place is off limits to him because he knows no one is a stranger to the Jesus who still walks the dusty streets of this age through those who bear His name.
His leadership skills were also immediately demonstrated upon his appointment to the Archdiocese of New York, the second largest local Church in the United States. He has led that vital Archdiocese - which the Holy See has called the "Capital of the World" - with a pastor's heart, a teachers wisdom, and a dedication to defending the fullness of truth as found within the full communion of the Catholic Church without compromise. Yet, he has done so with a smile and not a wagging finger, reaching out with the love of Jesus Christ to all men and women.
In fact, the United States of America is now mission territory. The Church in the United States is desperately in need of the New Evangelization and Cardinal Dolan is a trumpet in the hands of the Lord. He still proclaims, with clarity, charity, authority and hope, those words which the Angel proclaimed to Mary and which are so identified with the late and beloved St. John Paul II, Be Not Afraid.
Finally, the Cardinal has a marvelous way of giving great insights into important issues, just when we need them the most. That was evident on October 1, 2013, when he penned an opinion piece for the New York Post. It was so helpful that I have chosen to offer it in full to our readers. It can be found here in its original source.
Along with the enthusiastic interest in - and affection for - Pope Francis, there have been a lot of fabricated and inaccurate media reports concerning his message and the meaning of his papacy. Some have attempted to present this humble Pope who chose the name Francis as some kind of break from his two immediate predecessors, St. John Paul II and His Holiness, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. I disagree strongly.
The truth is that Pope Francis continues the trajectory of authentic renewal and reform which the Holy Spirit has been about since the Second Vatican Council. Of course, I refer to the real Council and the true interpretation of its rich and wonderful documents.
All three Successors of the Apostle Peter, John Paul, Benedict and Francis, have offered their unique contribution to the Church, in continuity with that Council as rightly interpreted and understood. After all, we have only scratched the surface of unpacking that Council. The work and its applications remains to be accomplished.
Cardinal Dolan offers us a great lens through which we can understand the continuity between these three Popes in a simple and insightful manner in his piece for the Post entitled Popes of the Soul, the Head and the Heart.
No wonder one of the best histories of the papacy is entitled "Saints and Sinners." Each pope has particular talents and some obvious flaws. That shouldn't surprise us, since that is also true of each of us.
The three most recent ones, the trio most of us vividly recall, are all giants: Blessed - soon to be Saint - John Paul II (1978-2005), Benedict XVI (2005-2013) and now Francis.
A good way to understand the different gifts of each of these recent pontiffs might be to use the imagery of soul, head and heart.
John Paul II emphasized the soul. President Jimmy Carter, welcoming him to the White House in 1979, even called him "the soul of the world."
The soul of the church seemed exhausted and scared when he stepped out onto that balcony on Oct. 16, 1978, and simply proclaimed, "Be not afraid!" - the advice from God most often found in the Bible.
His eloquent calls to prayer; his accent on the revival of the spirit; his concentration on the sacraments and devotions of the church, which bring the grace and mercy of Jesus; his tender trust of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his record "saint-making," cogently reminded us that the soul comes first.
Bring on Benedict XVI, a renowned theologian, and popular professor and author, who had served John Paul in helping him pass on faithfully the church's doctrinal treasures, and we have a successor of St. Peter who emphasized the head. He would renew the church's vast intellectual heritage, and remind us so effectively that faith and reason are hardly at odds, but actually allies.
So, Pope Benedict could revive the church's charism as the engine of truth, humanity's best friend in the pursuit of learning and education.
And now, Pope Francis emphasizes the heart.
After his first sermon as pope last March 19, a hardboiled reporter I know - and you would, too - told me, with tears in her eyes, "I spend every day covering stories about war, famine, murder and violence. And here this good man speaks so softly about tenderness. I needed that!"
Warmth, mercy, joy, tenderness, outreach, acceptance, love . . . all flow from the heart, and those are the words most used by Pope Francis.
John Paul emphasized the spiritual (the soul); Benedict the intellectual (the head); Francis the pastoral (the heart).
And God's been good, as he seems to have given us the pope we needed for a particular era. Every person needs a soul, a head, a heart. So does the person we call "Mother Church." So do each one of us.
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