.- Archbishop-designate of New York Timothy Dolan on Monday spoke with the Associated Press about the challenges he and the Catholic Church in New York face. Though saying that the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama was a mistake, he insisted that Catholics should engage with abortion rights supporters and politicians.
By inviting President Obama to deliver the commencement address and to receive an honorary degree, Notre Dame wrongly signaled to students “we hold him up as a model to you,” Archbishop Dolan told the Associated Press.
He said the president could have been invited to Notre Dame to speak without honoring him.
"The word we have to keep using is engagement," the archbishop said.
Archbishop Dolan said he wants to restore pride in being Catholic, especially following the scandals arising from clerical sexual abuse, which he described as a continuing source of shame.
Archbishop Dolan also spoke about the need for Catholics to defend their faith.
"Periodically, we Catholics have to stand up and say, `Enough'," Archbishop Dolan told the Associated Press. "The church as a whole still calls out to what is noble in us."
Appealing to fallen-away Catholics, he said he plans to tell them “We need you. We love you. The Church is your family… Please come back. We miss you. We're sorry if we hurt you. We'll listen to you. It's not the same without you.”
With numerous news reports saying that New York Governor David Paterson will introduce a bill in the state legislature on Thursday, the archbishop said he would challenge any efforts to recognize homosexual “marriage.” Speaking of homosexuals, he also said, “We love them… we would defend their rights.”
Archbishop Dolan told the Associated Press that the pioneering television evangelist Archbishop Fulton Sheen is among his heroes, and that he prays every day with a rosary used by Archbishop Sheen.
Addressing his anxiety about taking over the Archdiocese of New York, he closed his Monday interview by saying, “I hope at my core, I hear Jesus say, `Timothy be not afraid’.”
At his installation as Archbishop of New York on Wednesday afternoon, he will become the leader of some 2.5 million Catholics in the archdiocese.