New York’s Cardinal Dolan ‘safe and secure’ after sheltering amid Iranian airstrikes

Cardinal Timothy Dolan Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. | Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is “safe” after he took shelter in Jerusalem as Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles over Israel beginning in the late hours of April 13. 

Dolan, who leads the Archdiocese of New York, was visiting Israel in his role as chair of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and was set to visit various charitable organizations. But his visit was interrupted when he and his team were forced to take shelter from the Iranian airstrikes. 

“This Sunday in Bethlehem, all seems calm and bright, and it is for us — we feel safe and secure,” he said in a video filmed from Bethlehem and posted on X on Sunday morning. “That wasn’t true in the middle of last night, when the air raid sirens went off and when we had to go down and seek security at Notre Dame Center.”

“But right now things look good, and we’re grateful for that,” he said. “Thanks for all your expressions of concern.”

Dolan and his team took shelter at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, an organization that offers hospitality to pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. 

With the support of the U.S. and other allies, Israel intercepted 99% of the more than 300 airstrikes launched by Iran and its proxies operating out of Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. According to a report by the Associated Press, some missiles made it through Israeli airspace, injuring a Bedouin child and causing minor damage to an Israeli air base.

The Iranian attack followed an airstrike in Syria on April 1 reportedly launched by Israel that killed two Iranian military leaders in an Iranian consulate. Iranian general Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who was killed in the attack, was involved in orchestrating the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attacks, according to a statement by the Iranian Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces. 

President Joe Biden “condemn[ed]” the Iranian attacks on Israel in an April 13 statement from the White House. The U.S. and Israel had been preparing for an attack by Iran over the course of last week.

“Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our service members, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” Biden said in the statement.

Israel is still on “high alert” and has approved plans for “offensive and defensive actions,” according to a statement by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

Biden has since told Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the U.S. would not participate in or support a counterstrike against Iran. 

In his post, Dolan shared that he just celebrated Mass in Bethlehem and that he would go on to visit the site of the Nativity. 

Yesterday he visited “a magnificent center” run by religious sisters who take in abandoned babies.

“And they said to me, every time we get a new baby on our doorstep … we feel that it’s Christmas all over again, as another one of God’s children is born,” Dolan recalled in the video. 

For the April 12–18 trip, Dolan planned to meet with local religious leaders and visit social service and humanitarian organizations, according to an Archdiocese of New York April 3 press release

Dolan began the visit with a Shabbat dinner with Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Monsignor Peter Vaccari, who heads CNEWA.

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After the Iranian attack, Dolan met with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, on Sunday.  

The trip marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine by Pope Pius XII in 1949.

The trip was planned before the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, but Dolan made plans to meet with the families of the hostages currently being held by Hamas as well as with Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, according to the release. 

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