Monday, March 30, 2009

Exit Interview

With "90%" of his stuff already shipped off en route to 452 Madison, Archbishop Tim Dolan celebrated his final farewell Mass yesterday in Milwaukee before presiding over one last Holy Week in Beer City and an Easter Monday departure for New York, where his installation begins the following night.

Along the way, the Appointed One -- "apprehensive" about, but already immersed in, the work ahead in the Big Apple -- gave his most extensive interview since the move was announced, appearing on Brewerland TV yesterday morning for a half-hour (fullvideo), during which he held forth about the church's failures of teaching and witness, evaluated his seven-year stint at the helm of the 850,000-member Milwaukee church and, indeed, ventured a comment on Notre Dame's commencement invitation to President Obama, which he termed a "big mistake."

"When a President dramatically disagrees with the teaching of the church on a non-negotiable issue, we've gotta be careful about giving him a public platform," Dolan said.

"There's a lot of things that President Obama does that we can find ourselves allied with and working with him on -- and we have profound respect for him, and are praying with him and for him," he added, "but on an issue that is very close to the heart of Catholic worldview -- namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb -- he has, unfortunately, taken a position that is very much at odds with the church, and to give him a platform and to honor him, I believe, sends a mixed message."

During a congratulatory call to the archbishop on the afternoon of 23 February, hours after Dolan formally received Pope Benedict's nod to head the nation's second-largest diocese, the appointee invited Obama to St Patrick's Cathedral for his 15 April installation liturgy, according to multiple reports.

While the invite's status hasn't come up since, the presence of a Commander-in-Chief -- and a Democrat, at that -- wouldn't be without precedent: President Lyndon Johnson attended the 1968 enthronement of then-Archbishop Terence Cooke, and President Bill Clinton took the cathedral's first pew for the 2000 funeral of John Cardinal O'Connor, with the Democratic and Republican nominees vying to succeed him sitting just behind.

Details of the logistics for the two-day rites will be given to members of the media at a 1011 briefing tomorrow morning.

As always, stay tuned for full coverage of the session, and everything else still to come over the next 15 Days... God knows it'll be like nothing we've seen in a long time.

PHOTO: Gregory A. Shemitz/3VPhoto