(July 13, 2020)

I used to admire Timothy Dolan. As an undergraduate when I was discerning the priesthood, I read his book Priests for the Third Millennium, a collection of talks he gave while rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

I almost attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Saint Louis, MO while he served on the faculty while also an auxiliary bishop.

I was thrilled when he was appointed Archbishop of New York and became a cardinal while I was in graduate studies at Fordham University.

Cardinal Dolan presided at the last Easter Vigil Mass I had attended while living in New York, and it was a holy and memorable experience. 

However I no longer admire Cardinal Dolan following his coziness with Fox News*, which often propagates dubious news stories and racially-motivated content; his chumminess with President Donald Trump, whose presidency sent the country seventy years backwards in terms of race and gender relations; and his belief that certain statues and monuments reflective of historical racism, inclusive of Confederate personages and symbols, ought to remain for historical preservation and accuracy.

These reasons, among others, lead me to conclude that Cardinal Timothy Dolan is unfit to serve as a Church leader amid a Body of Christ which has experienced significant injustice, harm and even death due to the very racism the cardinal is unable to comprehensively and unambiguously denounce.

I pray that Cardinal Dolan experiences a conversion of heart, realizing his blind spots inclusive of White Privilege that prevent him from being deeply aware of the anguish that Black people and minorities have experienced in the US and the outrageous message the cardinal sends by ostensibly siding with racist parties and ideologies.

This conversion would enable the cardinal to better reflect Christ, who sided with the outcast and chose to take on the human flesh of the crucified outcast, and to better serve all of God’s people, particularly the recipients of racial injustice.

If Dolan does not experience this conversion, then I pray that he may receive the grace and the humility to surrender his red zucchetto and spend time in prayer and service so that he might eventually experience this change of heart.

I believe this time would be formative for Dolan to take on the “smell of the sheep” as Pope Francis has urged the clergy to do.

*Since 2018, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has either appeared or been featured in a Fox News story at least 12 times, whereas he has only appeared on rival station CNN at least twice during this time.

More from new Novena US contributor Matt Kappadakunnel:

USA: A house of divided bishops cannot stand against racism


Matt Kappadakunnel has a background in investment management and investment banking. Additionally, Matt spent multiple years studying to be a Catholic priest. He is a graduate of Creighton University and is a CFA Charterholder. Matt lives in Los Angeles with his wife and toddler, and they are expecting a newborn in November.