As most of you know, Timothy Cardinal Dolan became the newest NYC Prince of the Church on February 18th in a ceremony at the Vatican. The ebulient prelate celebrated a Vigil Mass for the First Sunday of Lent a week later in his home diocese at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The mass was televised and was quite a spectacle from the moment of Cardinal Dolan’s triumphal entry. He was beaming from ear to ear and most of the members of his congregation were, too. He worked the crowd like a seasoned politician smiling, greeting children, patting backs, and pointing in recognition to those he knew.
It was such a joyous occasion devoid of the solemnity that usually would accompany the First Sunday of Lent. Cardinal Dolan appeared genuinely touched by the attention. Even the many Archbishops and Bishops who were present were beaming large smiles.
In his homily, the new Cardinal spent considerable time sincerely thanking all in attendance for their support. In a humorous moment he addressed Cardinal Egan, the former Cardinal Archbishop of NYC, directly and told him that, “now New York City has two Cardinals. People are calling me the new Cardinal and they are calling you the … Oh well, I’ll let them tell you!” The crowd roared it’s approval.
Cardinal Dolan greeted several other Cardinals and Archbishops and gave each an enthusiastic, one-armed bear hug as the smaller prelate grinned while being reeled in like a rag doll. As the camera panned the crowd it seemed as if everyone was sharing in the good time.
The Cardinal spoke about the many temptations to pride and power that a Cardinal has and he admitted that being called a Prince of the Church or Your Eminence by people can ‘go to your head’. He spoke about how Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan in the desert to pride and power and and how the Lord over the past 10 days answered his prayer for protection from the same temptations. At one point, he held up his zucchetto or skull cap and said that, “on my Judgement Day Jesus will not care if I am a Cardinal, just that I loved and served others”. He continued that, “the Lord would probably not even call me ‘Your Eminence’ like Mom does!” The crowd once again laughed in approval.
It was truly a heart-warming and inspiring occasion. It is quite premature, but one cannot help but asking if Cardinal Dolan could be the first American Pope!