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Cardinal Dolan makes a better Episcopalian than he does a Roman Catholic

Cardinal Dolan makes a better Episcopalian than he does a Roman Catholic
Champions gay rights, banishes priests and scandalizes the faithful

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
Sept. 16, 2014

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the cardinal archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, is in the wrong church. He would make a better Episcopalian than he does a Roman Catholic; it is time for him to swim the River Thames. If he converts quickly enough, he might even make the cut as a candidate for the next presiding bishop.

Everything that man has been doing in the recent past has lined up with the beliefs and practices of The Episcopal Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. So much so, it almost seems as if he leaves his bully pulpit at St. Patrick's Cathedral to stroll down to 815 Second Avenue and take personal lessons from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on how to wield his enormous power to terrorize priests, scandalize the faithful, and hobnob with the rich and famous while making worldwide headlines along the way.

His latest gaffe is standing by while the ostensibly "Catholic" New York St. Patrick's Day Parade is brought to its knees and bullied into allowing gays to march under their own banner. He not only champions this decision, he'll lead next year's parade as grand marshal. For the most part, faithful Catholics are scandalized. As an Episcopalian, he would be celebrated.

For all the glad-handing he does, his own Archdiocese is in shambles. His attendance numbers are plummeting as quickly as they are in The Episcopal Church, forcing him to close churches and sell off institutions to try to keep the Archdiocese financially afloat. He took the reins of the Archdiocese in 2009. At the time, he was a mere archbishop, but the New York position is a cardinalate post, so he soon got his red hat and matching scarlet silks. Just before he arrived, the previous New York primate, Edward Cardinal Egan, axed 21 parishes and 22 schools from the Archdiocesan rolls leaving him to inherit 369 parishes.

Now Cardinal Dolan has his eye on using the axe with plans to whittle down the number of parishes to as few as 300, chopping 20 out of Manhattan itself while giving preferential treatment to self-styled inclusive parishes which have strong LGBT leanings with ties to gay and lesbian parish ministries.


Reportedly targeted on the cardinal's hit list is Holy Innocents Church, a small but vibrant traditional Catholic parish which celebrates the Latin Tridentine Mass daily. The New York prelate wants to yoke Holy Innocents with St. Francis Xavier, a gay-friendly and active Franciscan LGBT parish. That would be like Episcopal Bishop Andrew Dietsche (XVI New York) yoking St. Mary-the-Virgin, a high church Anglo-Catholic parish on Times Square, with St. Luke-in-the-Fields, an Integrity-friendly parish in Greenwich Village that celebrates liberation theology, the LGBT subculture and PRIDE events. That would not be a comfortable fit for either parish.

Cardinal Dolan is very supportive of St. Francis Xavier. Several years ago, he made a pastoral visit to the parish following a $10 million renovation where various parish ministries were introduced to him. A YouTube video shows him slouched over in his chair, sighing while chewing on the end of his glasses and clearly disinterested in meeting the assorted groupings until the various LGBT ministries were presented. The encounter was electric. He immediately brightened, a broad smile spread across the Cardinal's face as he sat up straight and gave them an enthusiastic high sign to the sound of spontaneous applause.

A visiting priest at Holy Innocence, Fr. Justin Wylie, has also felt the full wrath of the New York cardinal directly. Fr. Wylie is a young South African priest who was serving as attache to the Holy See's United Nations Permanent Observer Mission. The priest was canonically resident in the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg (South Africa), had become a popular preacher in the Big Apple and frequently celebrated the Latin Mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church and at Holy Innocents. He praised the traditionalists for their "piety and fidelity ... vivacity and zeal." However, it was a sermon he preached on May 18 at Holy Innocence where he tackled the abuse and intolerance that conservative Catholics endure at both St. Agnes and Holy Innocence, to exercise their passionate devotion to the Latin Mass and how shamefully the traditionalists are treated by the shepherds -- bishops, archbishops and cardinals -- ¬ of the church - that put Fr. Wylie squarely in the center of the cardinal's crosshairs.

"Doors everywhere started closing to them [traditionalists]. Our Saviour (Catholic Church) closed its doors to them. St. Agnes, for its part, guards its doors vigilantly to make sure they don't enter the building five minutes too early or don't overstay their welcome by five minutes more," he preached. "Now, it seems, the doors of Holy Innocents will be closed to them, too. Taken together, this is, in my view, a clear instance of exclusion: an injustice which you should bring to the attention of your shepherd, I think. You are fully-fledged members of the baptized Faithful, for heaven's sake: why are you scurrying about like ecclesiastical scavengers, hoping for a scrap or two to fall from the table for your very existence? ... You are not schismatics!"

The South African priest then took aim at Cardinal Dolan, "Whatever happens to Holy Innocents -- and this will be the decision of your chief-shepherd here, he will base his decision on more information than any of us has at his or her disposal -- you need to assert that you belong to the Church as fully as any other community. You have found a home here, largely through your own hard work and perseverance: no good shepherd could dispossess you of your home without providing safety and good pasture elsewhere," he said. "No longer, I say, should you think of yourselves as squatters in the mighty edifice of Holy Church, nor should you find yourselves turned out like squatters. Shepherds must needs make difficult decisions, such as the erection or suppression of parishes -- that is their onerous duty and in this they must have our obedience, charity and prayer: but never should they throw open the sheep-fold and allow the uncertain dispersion of their sheep into a world full of wolves. Charity, of course, is a two-way street."

His sermon went viral. This was just all too much for Cardinal Dolan. Within very short order, Fr. Wylie was inhibited. He found that his faculties (official permission and authority) to celebrate the Sacraments in the Archdiocese of New York were yanked for merely suggesting that there was an urgent need for the Archdiocese to send true and sympathetic shepherds to serve and guide those who attend the traditional Latin Mass.

Not only was Fr. Wylie inhibited from exercising his priesthood in the Archdiocese, he also lost his position as attache at the UN and was banished back to South Africa where he has been assigned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Thokoza, which is described as a "troubled parish" and where the rectory is unlivable. Monsignor Edward Weber, the director of priest personnel for the Archdiocese of New York, confirmed that the abrupt change in Fr. Wylie's status came "directly from the Cardinal's office".

"This is a provocatively stated point, but nevertheless a sound one. The current cardinal archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, had a South African priest sent packing after he had the temerity to defend the Latin Mass community in a homily and now threatens to shut down Holy Innocents, the parish where NYC has its only daily Latin Mass," wrote Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. "Meanwhile, Cardinal Dolan tolerates things like the 'Pre-Pride Mass'".


Inhibiting is a favorite tactic in the Presiding Bishop's arsenal and she is not afraid to go after bishops. Many conservative, orthodox and traditional bishops, who have left The Episcopal Church for greener spiritual pastures, have received their walking papers, either in the form of inhibiting, deposing or renunciation of orders from her including, but not limited, to: William Wantland (VI Eau Claire); John-David Schofield (IV San Joaquin); Edward MacBurney (VII Quincy); Andrew Fairchild (X North Dakota); Terence Kelshaw (VII Rio Grande); Peter Beckwith (X Springfield); Jack Iker (III Fort Worth); Keith Ackerman (VIII Quincy); Robert Duncan (VII Pittsburgh); David Bane (Southern Virginia); Mark Lawrence (XIV South Carolina) and David Bena (Albany-Suffragan). She also attempted to inhibit Church of England Bishop Henry Screven who was serving as an assisting in Pittsburgh and returned to his native England; Bishop William Cox (Maryland - Suffragan) when he exercised his episcopal ministry at the request of African Archbishop Luke Orombi of the Anglican Church of Uganda, a member province of the Anglican Communion; and Bishop Mark MacDonald (VII Alaska & Assisting Navajoland) when he was tapped as Canada's first National Indigenous Bishop by the Anglican Church of Canada. However Bishop Charles Bennison, Jr. (XV Pennsylvania) was justifiably inhibited in 2007 for conduct unbecoming for members of the clergy .That inhibition was eventually lifted and he returned to his troubled leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Before Katharine Jefferts Schori came on the scene, Episcopal Church history shows that only a handful of Episcopal bishops were deposed. They include: Bishop Levi Ives (II North Carolina) who left The Episcopal Church in 1852 to become Roman Catholic; Bishop George Cummins (Kentucky - Assistant) who left The Episcopal Church in 1873 to found the Reformed Episcopal Church and become its first presiding bishop; Bishop Samuel McCoskry (I Michigan) who fled to Europe in 1878 to escape moral charges; Bishop Donald Davies (I Fort Worth) who left The Episcopal Church in 1991 to form the Episcopal Missionary Church and become its first presiding bishop; Bishop Charles Boynton (New York - Suffragan) who renounced his orders following his 1991 participation in the consecration of bishops for the Anglican Continuum; and Bishop Larrea Moreno (II Central Ecuador) who was deposed in 2004 when he declared his diocese independent of The Episcopal Church following the discovery of financial irregularities His successor, Bishop Ruiz (III Central Ecuador) was forced to resign his diocese in 2011, dissolve the Standing Committee and relinquish his authority to the Presiding Bishop when his diocese was found to be in a "complete meltdown." He fled to his native Colombia.

If Cardinal Dolan swam the Thames, he would feel right at home with the various Episcopal bishops in New York including: Andrew Dietsche (XVI New York); Mark Sisk ( XV New York); Andrew Smith (New York assistant); William Franklin (XI Western New York); Lawrence Provenzano (VIII Long Island); Skip Adams (X Central New York) and Prince Signh (VIII Rochester), all of whom have championed marriage equality. In all likelihood, Albany bishops William Love (IX Albany) and Daniel Herzog (VIII Albany) would welcome Cardinal Dolan to the neighborhood but not become bosom buddies with him.

Coming into The Episcopal Church, Cardinal Dolan would have an immediate seat in the House of Bishops for TEC fully accepts the validity of Roman Catholic ordination without a second thought. He would not have to be reordained as priest nor reconsecrated as bishop. This was recently demonstrated in 2004 when then Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (Nevada III) knowingly received a Catholic pedophile cleric, Fr. Bede Parry, then gave the Benedictine monk-priest faculties as an Episcopal priest in her diocese assigning him as an assisting priest at All Saints in Las Vegas where he was already functioning as music director.

In 2010, Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade (III Southeast Florida) simply received Fr. Alberto Cutie into The Episcopal Church and made him priest-in-charge at Church of the Resurrection, an Latino Episcopal church in Biscayne Park, Florida. The handsome, magnetic, and dynamic Catholic priest's downfall came in 2009 when he got caught by the paparazzi frolicking on the beach with his girlfriend. He has since married her and now the blended family has three children.


Currently, the cardinal has a running battle with Bishop Daniel Jenky (VIII Peoria) and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria (Illinois) over the custody of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's body. Archbishop Sheen was born in Illinois and is a native son of the Diocese of Peoria, but he eventually became the auxiliary (suffragan) bishop of the Archdiocese of New York and then the VI Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rochester (New York). He died in 1979 and is buried in the white marble crypt beneath St. Patrick's in New York, Cardinal Dolan's cathedral.

The cause for his sainthood was started in 2002. At the time, Edward Cardinal Egan (VII New York cardinal) twice assured the Diocese of Peoria that they could have Archbishop Sheen's body, which is needed for authentication and to secure first class relics, such as bone shavings, all a part of the modern canonization process, but Cardinal Dolan is not cooperating.

Anticipating that Archbishop Sheen would be eventually returned to Illinois as the canonization process proceeded, the Peoria diocese prepared to welcome their favorite son back home with plans to build a shrine to house his remains.

But when the time came to transfer Archbishop Sheen back to Illinois for the continuation of the costly and time-consuming canonization process, Cardinal Dolan refused to release the body, citing Sheen's family interests. It is also known that the cardinal has a personal devotion for the charismatic archbishop. In short, the cardinal is holding the archbishop's body hostage thus grinding the canonization process to a screeching halt.

If Archbishop Sheen should be canonized in a timely fashion he would be the first male saint to be born on American soil. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born American saint. She was born in Colonial New York and her maternal grandfather Richard Charlton was an early rector of St. Andrew's on Staten Island, a Colonia-era Episcopal church which dates back to 1708 and was chartered by Queen Anne of England. In 1794 Elizabeth Ann Bayley married William Seaton;third Episcopal Presiding Bishop Samuel Provoost did the honors.

The happy couple were members of Trinity-Wall Street and had five children in their short nine year marriage. Elizabeth's spiritual director was John Henry Hobart who would go on to become the third Bishop of New York. Her husband died in 1803 while in Italy and is buried at the Old English Cemetery at the St. George's Anglican Church in Livorno, Italy. Elizabeth and eldest child Anna Marie were travelling with Seton when he died. The young widow and her daughter were taken in by his Italian business associates and it was while staying with them that she was introduced to Roman Catholicism. Upon returning to the United States, Elizabeth converted to the Catholic Church and eventually went on to found the Sisters of Charity and became known as Mother Seton. She became the first native-born American to become canonized in 1975.

She is not the only highly visible Episcopalian to become Catholic. In 1908, the Superior Mother General Edith of the Community of St. Mary's left the convent along with the community's Chaplain General Fr. William McGarvey and both went to the Catholic Church. That joint event threw a pall over the Episcopal religious community for 50 years. Then the next year -- 1909 -- The Friars and Sisters of the Society of the Atonement, an Episcopal Anglo-Catholic religious society in Graymoor, New York became Catholics. The most recent incident of Episcopalian nuns becoming Catholic happened in 2009 when nearly all the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonville, Maryland swam the Tiber.

There is no known history of a Roman Catholic bishop becoming an Episcopalian, although many Catholic priests have make the trip and several Episcopal Bishops have also swam the Tiber to become Catholic including: Levi Ives (II North Carolina) in 1852; Frederick Kinsman (III Delaware) in 1919; Clarence Pope (II Fort Worth) in 1994; and Donald Hertzog (VIII Albany), John Lipscomb (IV Southwest Florida), and Jeffrey Steenson (VIII Rio Grande) in 2007. Bishop Hertzog returned to The Episcopal Church in 2010 and is assisting in his former diocese. Bishop Pope returned to The Episcopal Church in 1995 only to go back to the Catholic Church in 2007 but again return to Anglicanism in 2008. When he died in 2012 he was honored by both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).


Should Cardinal Dolan become Episcopalian, he would be welcomed with wide open arms. In all likelihood, this would never happen because he enjoys too much power and prestige as a Catholic cardinal in a world-class city. He would have no trouble finding appropriate rainbow-colored vestments to wear, although he would be the only bishop in the House of Bishops to wear a scarlet cassock while the rest of his TEC brother and sister bishops don their red chimeres. The Presiding Bishop has a tall rainbow-colored mitre and flowing rainbow cope which she frequently wears that she could lend him. Bishop Catherine Roskam (New York-suffragan) also has a complete set of rainbow-colored bishop's vestments.

Housing shouldn't be a problem since he would be tossed out of his palatial residence, dubbed "The Powerhouse" and sometimes the "Pink Palace of New York" at 452 Madison Avenue. The Presiding Bishop could give up her penthouse apartment at the Episcopal Church Center, and if that is not doable, he could become the Bishop-in-Residence at gay-friendly St. Luke-in-the-Fields in Greenwich Village.

Since the cardinal is so embracive of the gay crowd, he and Bishop Vicky Gene Robison (IX New Hampshire) could go on the stump together in support of gay rights, to promote Integrity USA and Believe OUTLOUD, and participate in various PRIDE events. The New Hampshire bishop has all the needed gay PRIDE connections. Cardinal Dolan is already scheduled to be the grand marshal at next year's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Bishop Robinson would chomp-at-the-bit to join in.

There is much Cardinal Dolan could do in The Episcopal Church without even preaching the Gospel.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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