NEW YORK (PIX11)—From her home in Washington, Missouri, the 82 year old mother of New York's Cardinal-Designate, Timothy Dolan, told PIX 11 she's got her passport ready for the trip to Rome next month, where she will see Pope Benedict the XVI elevate her 61 year old son to the College of Cardinals.
Shirley Dolan called her son a "down to earth" person who "calls it as he sees it"-- when it comes to preaching the Roman Catholic Church's conservative doctrines. Here in New York, the Cardinal-Designate told reporters Friday morning his mother was the first person he told, a day before the official announcement. "She said 'it's about time'" Dolan quipped, referring to the nearly three years that have passed, since he was installed as Archbishop of New York in April 2009. Timothy Dolan, a St. Louis native, will become the eighth Cardinal to serve the Archdiocese of New York, one of the most influential in the United States.
When Archbishop Dolan replaced the retiring Edward Cardinal Egan, he knew he wouldn't get elevated to his new rank quickly.
Speaking of Egan, Dolan said Friday, "He's not going to be 80 until April 2nd, so I thought 'probably not now'". But Pope Benedict thought differently. Once Egan turns 80, he will not be eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals for the next pontiff, so that opens the door for Timothy Dolan to get that privilege.
Dolan will receive the red hat of cardinal on February 18th at the Vatican, along with 21 other archbishops. One of the others being elevated with him is Edwin O'Brien, a native New Yorker who served as secretary to two, previous cardinals and later became the director of the Archdiocesan seminary for priests. O'Brien has served as archbishop in another American diocese.
Cardinal-Designate Dolan is known for his big personality. When asked if he could become the first, American pope someday, he remarked, "Somewhere in St. Patrick's Cathedral, there's an altar to Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes. Better start lighting candles now!"
But Dolan's mother has more confidence. On the phone, she told PIX 11, "I'm beginning to think maybe he could be. He'd be a great one."
Timothy Dolan is the oldest of five children, and during the course of his priestly vocation, he spent more than eleven years in Rome.
Before arriving in New York, he served as Archbishop of Milwaukee, where he dealt with the aftermath of the priest sex abuse scandal that was exploding across the United States. During a sit-down with PIX 11 in his private residence behind St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dolan told us he thinks Catholics have started to heal but acknowledged there's still some residual anger. He remains steadfast in the Church's opposition to gay marriage, saying matrimony should be for, "one man, one woman." He doesn't see a day when women will become priests, citing Church doctrine, but thinks women play a crucial role in the Church's survival and vitality.
When asked if his job will change, after he becomes Cardinal, Dolan told PIX "My primary, sacred responsibility will still be the Archdiocese of New York. " He said his elevation is a sign of respect for New York. "It's almost like Pope Benedict the XVI is putting a 'red hat' on top of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty or Yankee Stadium or the spires of Saint Patrick's Cathedral."
Archbishop Dolan is the eighth Archbishop of New York to be named a Cardinal. The first seven Cardinal Archbishops of New York were:
John Cardinal McCloskey (Archbishop 1864-1885; created Cardinal 1875. First American Cardinal.) John Cardinal Farley (Archbishop 1902-1918; created Cardinal 1911) Patrick Cardinal Hayes (Archbishop 1919-1938; created Cardinal 1924) Francis Cardinal Spellman (Archbishop 1939-1967; created Cardinal 1946) Terence Cardinal Cooke (Archbishop 1968-1983; created Cardinal 1969) John Cardinal O'Connor (Archbishop 1984-2000; created Cardinal 1985) Edward Cardinal Egan (Archbishop 2000-2009; created Cardinal 2001)