The aim isn’t only to maintain them, he continued, they need to be strengthened because “now more than ever does the Church need a public face.”
The Church needs to have a good public profile because there are “a lot of people out there who would like to exclude the Church from any type of public witness and we can’t let that happen,” the Archbishop of New York said.
Moving on to the third challenge for the U.S. Catholic Church, Dolan simply described it as reaching out and inviting our people home.
“It scares the life out of me when I find out that second most identifiable religious grouping on the religious landscape of the United States are people who say, ‘I used to be a Catholic.’”
We bishops have to do something about this, he insisted. “We have to say, ‘no, look, there is no such thing as a former Catholic. Your Catholicism is, as a matter of fact, in your DNA. And whether you like it or not you’re born into it just like you’re born into a natural family.’”
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Now, he continued, “you might say, ‘I’m ticked off at my natural family, I’m not hanging around with them anymore, I’ve got things to work out.’ But you’re still a member of that family and sooner or later you usually make your peace with it and go home.”
In comparison, “the Church is our supernatural family,” he explained, “you might be upset with it, you might not be showing up for Sunday dinner, you might be mad at it about a couple of things…but you’re still a member.”
The Church “is your supernatural family, and, darn it, we need you and want you to come back home. You’re always welcome,” Dolan offered.