Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

There’s a New Cardinal in Town

For newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the weekend was all about his new red birettum.

This was a weekend to celebrate the cardinal’s new status in the Church.  On Saturday, Feb. 25, he presided over a double header at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In the morning, there was an ecumenical prayer service that was attended by public officials, dignitaries and invited guests.  Later in the afternoon, the cardinal was the main celebrant of a Mass of thanksgiving, the congregation of which was made up of members from the almost 400 parishes in the archdiocese.

During the morning service, Cardinal Dolan took to the pulpit and delivered a lively sermon.  Calling upon his St. Louis roots, he recalled the slogan, “This Bud’s for you.” He removed the birettum from his head and held it out toward the assembly, proclaiming, “This hat’s for you!”

The significance of the words was not lost.  The prelate was telling his people that his new title belonged, not only to him, but to the Church in the entire City of New York and beyond.

Time and again, he would reach to his head and remove the birettum and wave it toward the crowd, that genuinely appreciated the gesture. In the press conference that followed, he again used the birettum as a prop, reiterating his words, “This cap’s for you!”

Cardinal Dolan has burst upon the scene with his new title as someone of rock star status. Every move he makes is being recorded. Even politicians, who might line up as political adversaries, seem genuinely happy to see him.

In between ceremonies on Saturday, the cardinal hosted receptions at the New York Sheraton.  People jammed into the hotel ballroom for a New York-style party to celebrate one of their own.

In the three short years that he has been Archbishop of New York, the now-Cardinal Dolan has embraced the city and its residents have returned the hugs. The tickets for Saturday’s services were the hottest in town that weekend.

He jokes about his new allegiances to the Yankees and the Mets, and swears that his will not wear the “red socks” of his new office.

A church historian, the significance of being Archbishop of New York is obvious to the affable Dolan.  Already being referred to as “The American Pope,” he preaches now from a bully pulpit that he is sure to put to good use. He already has made it clear that he is fervently opposed to the provisions of Obamacare that would force church agencies to pay for health plans that include birth control and sterilization. His words are all the more meaningful since he also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Very likeable and hugely popular, Cardinal Dolan speaks words that are sure to be listened to a bit more attentively by political office holders.

At the end of the press conference on Saturday morning, there was an exchange between Cardinal Dolan and his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan.

“Are you coming over to the residence?” asked Cardinal Dolan as they prepared to exit the church.

“I do what I’m told,” smiled Cardinal Egan. “I hear there’s a new cardinal in town!”

He was correct and everyone is aware of who the new cardinal is.