Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Deus Adest... Et Vocat Tim?

In case you haven't been paying attention, the Presbyteral Council may be "stand[ing] with" Cardinal Egan "in confidence," but it's open season for the New York succession... and that's thanks to the priests of the archdiocese, themselves.

Regurgitating what you heard here first 13 months ago, and again last Christmas, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel picks up on the whispers that Archbishop Timothy Dolan is, indeed, the front-runner to succeed Cardinal Egan in residence at 452 Madison.

(Thanks to Tom Heinen and John Allen for making these pages look downright prophetic.)

While Dolan's qualifications -- a proven, once-in-a-generation figure, keen mind (he's an ecclesiastical historian by training), media-savvy, impeccably positive, beloved by the usually-disaffected, wildly successful fundraiser, young enough to provide a two-decade-long consistency -- previously allowed him to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field, that the morale of the New York priests has become Concern #1 in the wake of the letter only serves to strengthen the 56 year-old former NAC rector's unique suitability to take the reins of the church in the "Capital of the World," restoring the iconic status endemic to its prior helmsmen.

And, just in case you were wondering: yes, he's been spending time in Mexico learning Spanish.

On entering Milwaukee in 2002 after less than a year as auxiliary bishop of St Louis, the new archbishop became head of an extraordinarily progressive presbyterate, one both broken down by revelations surrounding prior Archbishop Rembert Weakland and skeptical of Dolan's ecclesiology.

Banging on the doors of the newly-renovated St John's Cathedral, Dolan arrived with a message of hope.... But, four years later, has he won 'em over? I asked a Milwaukee archdiocesan priest about the feeling on-the-ground the other day, and he answered so:
One thing that stands out in contrast between Egan and Dolan, based on the NY priests letter, is that when it comes to dealing with the media we have opposites here. Archbishop Dolan loves people, social functions, and knows how to effectively use the media and never shies away from it. He is tirelessly "positive," while not ignoring or avoiding the real problems and conflicts in the church; he just loves the church, and exudes that love, to the point where it is contagious. I think he's overall been well-accepted and liked here, and though there have been some grumbling from time to time among the presbyterate--he's quite a different style and ideology from Rembert, obviously--for the most part his kindness, true concern for priests, efforts to reach out (you never know when he's going to decide to just give a call and see how you're doing because he was thinking about you), and ability to exude optimism, and even admit mistakes and apologize have made him well liked and accepted. Personally, the more I know him the better I like him, and in my personal talks with him I have felt a truly decent and honest man; and one who calls my mother every now and then to check on how my parents are doing.
So, we realize we were lucky to get him after Rembert retired.... When I read [the New York letter], my first thought was that Tim Dolan is the opposite of aloof, especially to his priests.

[New York] wouldn't have the same complaints about Tim Dolan. He's a great guy. I hope he stays here for a while.
Barring the unforeseen, Egan will be the first archbishop-emeritus of New York. And, like it or not, the kettle of speculation has been turned up.

Stay tuned.