- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NEW YORK | New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan said Monday, on the eve of his installation, that he will challenge the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened because it opposes gay marriage and abortion.

In an interview with Associated Press, Archbishop Dolan said he wants to restore pride in being Catholic, especially given the damage the church endured in the clergy sex abuse scandal, which he called a continuing source of shame.

”One would hope that through education and through the joy that we give by our lives that people will begin to see that these fears and this skepticism we have about the church are unwarranted,” Archbishop Dolan said.

He said Catholics also must defend themselves against bias, which he said was still deeply ingrained in American culture.

“Periodically, we Catholics have to stand up and say, 'Enough,' ” he said. “The church as a whole still calls out to what is noble in us.”

Archbishop Dolan, 59, will be installed as leader of the Archdiocese of New York before thousands of well-wishers in services Tuesday night and Wednesday in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The former archbishop of Milwaukee succeeds New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who is retiring at age 77.

His daily life has been a whirlwind since the Vatican announced his appointment seven weeks ago. He celebrated Mass on Easter Sunday in Milwaukee, then flew with relatives to New York.

On Monday, speaking in the archbishop's residence, which is attached to St. Patrick's through a dining room door, he said he was still unpacking.

The job of New York archbishop is the most visible in the church in the United States and has been filled by men who became giants not only in the American church but also in broader society. Among them are Cardinals Francis Spellman and John O'Connor.

Archbishop Dolan is known for defending church orthodoxy with a friendly face.

At one service in Milwaukee, he donned a cheesehead hat in honor of the Green Bay Packers. He often jokes about his girth; he had said that one of his previous church jobs was so demanding that he forgot to eat and lost one of his chins.

Archbishop Dolan said he struggles with how best to convey Catholic teaching. Among his heroes is former New York Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who, before he died in 1979, was a 20th-century pioneer in TV and radio evangelism. He was given a rosary used by Archbishop Sheen and said he prays with it every day. He plans to talk about the church “as our spiritual family” that people need despite its flaws.

Archbishop Dolan said he would challenge any efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York but insisted that his position was not anti-gay. “We love them,” he said of gay people. “We would defend their rights.”

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