Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan watches the procession outside St. Patrickís Cathedral at the start of his Mass of installation in New York April 15. CNS photo/pool
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On Wednesday of this week I was happy to attend the installation of the new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.
(...) At one point (in his homily), he talked about Christís resurrection as being manifest in the Church in our defense of the unborn and there was an explosion of applause and enthusiasm. People jumped to their feet!
I couldnít help but to notice the politicians sitting in the front row. They stood with the rest of the assembly, but I thought to myself that its so good for them to see this, because many people want to give them the impression that Catholics really donít care about abortion--that itís just the bishops--but the response was wildly enthusiastic.
I think the archbishop was even surprised by it. He even had to stop his homily because of the outburst. I think it shows that Catholics who love the Church, or practice their faith, are deeply identified with the pro-life cause.
On the subject of great communicators, Iím pleased to say that I recently became a member of the episcopal board of advisors for the beatification cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I was very honored to be asked to be a part of that group.
It was my privilege to have known Archbishop Sheen. When I was a child he would visit our parish regularly and I would often serve Mass for him. In those days, of course, the Masses were in Latin and ordinarily there was no preaching during the week -- preaching was on Sunday -- and then the lessons were in Latin. However, when Archbishop Sheen was at the parish during the week, the Church would be standing room only. He would preach every day of the week, which was very, very unusual at the time.
Later on, in 1975, I organized a preaching seminar for the Holy Year at Catholic University, in the Hartke Theater and we had about 600 priests come to it. The two speakers I had invited were Father Avery Dulles and Archbishop Fulton Sheen and, of course, they were both spectacular. Archbishop Sheen, at that time, must have been in his 80s, but he had not changed, he looked like he always did on television and was still playing tennis everyday.
The only thing that shocked me, having not seen him since I was a child, was how short he was! But, he was a huge personality and a very important figure in the history of the United States.
No one did as much to break down prejudice against the Catholic Church as Fulton Sheen. I always say that John F. Kennedy could never have been elected president of the United States had it not been for the television program and radio programs of Archbishop Sheen.
He made thousands of converts during his life by his preaching. Of course, his main job was supporting the missions as head of the Propagation of the Faith. He did an extraordinary job at that.
Archbishop Sheen was a very holy priest, and I think that his role in the history of the Church in the United States was a very important one. It would be wonderful to see him elevated to the altars.
We have a new archbishop in New York who is also a great communicator and we hope that his ministry there will be like Archbishop Sheenís that attracted so many people to the Church.