Cardinal Dolan, in Rome, praises pope’s ‘new’ evangelization strategy

Categories: Nation/World

Oct. 11, 2013, edition
By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

Pope Francis’ recent warning against overemphasizing moral teachings against abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception means that U.S. bishops should emulate his positive approach to evangelization, not shift the priorities of their public policy agenda, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

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Pope Francis greets New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, at the Vatican Oct. 7. Leaders of the USCCB were at the Vatican for an annual meeting. CNS photo / L’Osservatore Romano

“What he’s saying is that if the perception of the church is of a scold who’s always nagging and always negative and always fearful, we’re not going to make many converts, because nobody wants to join the church out of fear or (join) a paranoid group,” the cardinal told Catholic News Service Oct. 8.

“If we emphasize the positive, the gracious, the embracing, the warm, inviting side of the church, then we’re going to attract people,” he said. “And that of course is what Pope Francis is saying and doing on steroids.”

According to Cardinal Dolan, U.S. bishops have a “lot of issues we’re hung up on, including immigration, the budget battle, proper health care, world peace, Syria, hunger and the HHS (contraception) mandates,” he said. But the “only one that ever seems to get attention would be any kind of controversial promotion that we would do in defense of life, in defense of marriage and in defense of religious freedom, because they tend to be the more combative issues of the day.”

In an interview published Sept. 19, Pope Francis said that the church “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. . . . We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

Cardinal Dolan said that “when the Holy Father suggested this new strategy, I don’t think he got a longer standing ovation from anybody than he did from the bishops in the United States. Because we’ve been saying for a long time, ‘Listen to everything we say, don’t just listen to us when we speak about your pet issue.’ “