Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
May 17, 2009

Two major American cities have recently been given new bishops, in both instances men of outstanding ability,   Archbishop Timothy Dolan, formerly the Arch shop of Milwaukee, was installed a fortnight or so ago as the new Archbishop of New York, and Bishop Robert Carlson, formerly the Bishop of Sioux Falls and subsequently of Saginaw, Michigan, has been chosen by the Holy See to be the new Archbishop of St. Louis. Measured by secular standards New York is of course by far the more glamorous of the two cities, as it is in so many ways, both cultural and commercial, the pace-setter for America and indeed for much of the world. But one ought not to be dismissive of the national significance of St. Louis; for the discernment of the prevailing values of "America between the coasts" the City of St. Louis has often served as a useful barometer, even as the voting patterns of the state of Missouri have proved to be an often successful predictor of the outcome of presidential elections. Both Sees therefore provide important platforms for advancing  the cause of Christ. And while a cardinal's red hat  will almost inevitably be joined with the mitre of an Archbishop of New York, Archbishops of St. Louis have also received that high honor on more than one occasion and concomitantly an enhanced role in the Church Universal.

By a charming coincidence linking the two Sees, Archbishop Dolan, newly installed in New York, is a native of St. Louis. And to my own personal good fortune the new Archbishop of St. Louis has over the years done me the great honor of accepting me as a friend.

Archbishop-elect Carlson has won the hearts of  his Catholic people in every diocese that he has served, beginning with his service as auxiliary bishop here in our own archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. And he has enjoyed extraordinary success in attracting young men to the priesthood and young women to the religious life. In Sioux Falls, for example, he established a convent of Carmelite contemplative nuns, while the diocese of Saginaw, which could count only two seminarians when he arrived, is now, four years later, blessed with ten times that number.

Archbishop Dolan's warmth and joviality, joined with an unembarrassed loyalty to the truths of our faith, brought a welcome measure of peace and stability to an archdiocese-Milwaukee-which had had more than its normal share of problems. As the past is prelude to the future, the Holy See's elevation of these two new archbishops bodes well for the Church in America.

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May I share with you two recently published interviews with these distinguished prelates: an interview with Archbishop-elect Carlson that appeared in The Wanderer for May 7, 2009, written by Peggy Moen, and an interview with Archbishop Dolan from The Wall Street Journal for May 9, 2009, wirtten by Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

Archbishop Carlson on His New Appointment
by Peggy Moen
The Wanderer for May 7, 2009

Archbishop Robert Carlson's spirituality is best exemplified by the story of how he founded a new religious community in Colombia. As he told it to the 13th Annual Benefit Dinner for The Catholic Servant, held here April 27: once when he was praying. for peace before the Blessed Sacrament, he was inspired to found the Messengers of Peace.

"I was praying one day and the Lord placed this on my heart:  I would like you to found a religious community where they pray for peace. I would like you to call it Pacem in Terris. And I would like this community to be founded in Colombia, because it is a country that so desperately is looking for peace.  And I  would ask that the prayer be always before the Blessed Sacrement"

Carlson explained to the 200 at St.. Helena's that he had never been ot Colombia and he had   no idea why this inspiration came to him. He decided to present it to the nuncio, thinking he would say the  concept was ridiculous and to forget it. But the nuncio said, "That's a great idea." Carlson then met with the nuncio in Colombia, who also thought it was a great idea. The community was founded in 2003. Members devote themselves to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and to the care of the poor and the orphaned.

The Catholic Servant invited Archbishop Carlson - who was born in Minneapolis and is a former St. Paul- Minneapolis auxiliary bishop - to address its banquet before the Pope named him on April 21 archbishop of St. Louis.

(The Catholic Servant is a local monthly newspaper distributed free).

Prior to the banquet at St. Helena's parish hall, The Wanderer and John Sondag of The Catholic Servant interviewed Archbishop Carlson about his new appointment; his success in promotitig vocations as ordinary of Sioux Falls, S. D. (1995- 2005), and Saginaw, Mich. (2005-2009); his hopes for the pro-life movement; his views on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass; and his impressions :)f Pope Benedict XVI....

He stressed that his 25 years of being a bishop have taught him that bishops need "a very active strong faith and prayer life. . . . You can't take people to where you're not willing to go." He added that "I've been blessed with excellent spiritual directors and I frequently find the Sacrament of Penance is very important to me, and I mean very frequently," and that a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament is also essential.

He noted the exceptional gifts of his predecessors in St. Louis. "Archbishop [Raymond] Burke was a magnificent canonist, with a great mind. I have some canon law training but I certainly don't feel I'm his equal." Carlson earned a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1979.

Justin Cardinal Rigali, now archbishop of Philadelphia, he noted, "had that world experience, working in the Vatican plus his background with canon  law."

Carlson commented that "they both have very well-trained minds and they brought all of that to their work as bishops. I've not had that opportunity, so that would be a weakness. Hopefully in my love for priests I can make up for it."

All bishops, he said, should hold these priorities: vocations; Catholic schools and Catholic identity; evangelization; involvement with the poor; and stewardship.

It's not surprising that Archbishop Carlson would name vocations as the first episcopal priority. 
"In Saginaw I've been the vocations director and I will have ordained 11 priests in my four years there, which for a small diocese is very good," said Carlson, a past chairman of the USCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry.

He won't serve as vocations director in St. Louis, he said, since "we have a wonderful vocations director in St. Louis, so I'm glad I can just be the bishop. I've always been the vocations director in those places that I went to where I didn't feel they had somebody strong."

Asked what other dioceses can do to imitate his success in promoting vocations, Carlson suggested first of all that "the bishop has to be very focused on vocations and you have to consider your contact with seminarians as one of the most important things you do. Or to put it differently, you should never ordain somebody you don't know well. And that's what I did. I got to know our seminarians, and I challenged them to grow in their spirituality and theological studies and their human formation and their affective maturity."

He recalled that "I've never found a young person who was ever offended that I said, 'Have you ever thought about being a priest?' And I love the priesthood so it's not hard."

Also, "you have to encourage priests to talk about how God worked in their own life and to talk about their own vocation story."

Thirdly, "make sure that young people have opportunities to experience what it means to be a disciple."

For him in Saginaw, "it was taking 400 kids to the March for Life. And I loved that because I had three days  with all these young people in buses out there and back, to experience the larger Church, to be able to witness to their faith."

Then asked if he felt discouraged because of pro-life losses in the 2008 elections, Archbishop Carlson said, "I'm always optimistic because I'm hopeful in faith.... After the election, I said, [in] a statement, we have to pray for the president, that's our responsibility, and also we need to pray that we can do a better job of explaining and living the values that the Catholic Church has so that people can begin to understand the tremendous gift the pro-life movement brings to our nation. So, no, I'm not discouraged, but I think we have a lot of work to do."

   On the University of Notre Dame's invitation to Barack Obama, Carlson observed: "It's very important that the bishops of the United States support Bishop [John] D'Arey [of Fort Wayne South Bend, Ind.] in the stand he's taken and I stand in solidarity with him."  D'Arcy said he would boycott Notre Dame's May 17 commencement because Obama would be speaking and would receive an honorary degree.

Told by John Sondag that Mary Ann Glendon, former Vatican ambassador, had just announced she was refusing to accept Notre Daine's Laetare Medal, Carlson said, "She's a very classy lady, so I'm not surprised." Glendon released a letter she wrote to Notre Daine's president stating she could not accept the award and speak alongside pro-abortion Barack Obama.

Storm Heaven

About the threat of the Freedom of Choice Act, Archbishop Carlson said, " I think we have to continue to have prayer vigils, nineday novenas, anything we possibly can do to make sure this doesn't pass. If it does pass, it's going to be very, very difficult." When The Wanderer noted that the particular concern is with the Catholic hospitals under FOCA, Carlson said, " We might be out of business."

The Wanderer asked if he thought the Catholic hospitals should close down before they do abortions. Carlson said: " I have to see what the bill looks like and what its effects are. This is going to be tied up in the courts for years. I think we have to strategize if it does pass. But I think right now we have to pray that it doesn't pass. As far as what Catholic hospitals should do, it depends on what it looks like, and if there is an exception clause.... If we can't win it in the executive branch, then we try to win it in the Congress. If we can't win it in the Congress, we try to win it the courts. And if we can't win it there, then we'll storm Heaven."

In his talk at the banquet, Archbishop Carlson urged his listeners to pray that God would touch President Obama's heart on abortion. "If we can pray, we can change his heart." He also reminded his listeners of Pope Benedict's words in Deus Carilas Est. "People who pray are not wasting their time."

Praying For Peace

Asked during the interview about Pope Benedict's recent  "bad press" tarring him with being aloof and remote, Carlson replied, "I don't find him to be either. I was just in Rome, last October. I don't think anybody prompted him: I walked up at the end of the audience and he said, 'How is Saginaw?' Now that's somebody who's not very aloof. That's somebody who's with it. . . I think his personality, if you compare him to John Paul, he's more shy, not aloof though, shy. He's a brilliant thinker, and actually I find his writings very interesting to read. I think he's right on target."

He added: "And I don't :find him quote unquote conservative; I find him pretty much middle of the road. But I think he believes we have to have a sense of history and of where we've been. And as we move forward, we have to include that. So I would be a very enthusiastic supporter of Benedict XVI. And that's not just because I'm a bishop, I would be anyway."

Carlson,expressed his support for Benedict's 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum saying, "I think you have to provide avenues for people to remain in the Church," including those attached to the Traditional Mass. He recalled that he celebrated the Traditional Mass at the cathedral in Sioux Falls, and said he wishes to maintain the celebrations in the Extraordinary Form that now take place in St. Louis.

He said it's a "great blessing" that the Archdiocese of St. Louis boasts 29 Catholic secondary schools and 123 grade schools. "People don't know their faith as they should. And today I think we're probably talking about three generations."

Along with his duties as shepherd of St. Louis, in July Archbishop Carlson will travel to Colombia because some women have just completed their novitiate in the Community of the Messengers of Peace. They will be the women's branch of that order. Five professed brothers and one priest make up the men's branch.

This all never would have happened, Archbishop Carlson told his listeners at St. Helena's, if he hadn't been "praying for peace before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. And that is something which we must all be involved in, something we must all do."
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Proudly Pro-Choice on Education
By Mary Anastasia O'Grady
The Wall Street Journal for May 9, 2009

The child is not a mere creature of the state. Parents have the primary responsibility to see how and where their children are educated."

For thousands of lower-income New York children caught in the city's failing public school system, any high-profile advocate for choice in education might seem to be heaven-sent. Perhaps this one is. His name is Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the newly appointed spiritual leader of New York's 2.5 million Catholics.

When I went to see Archbishop Dolan early on a midweek morning last month at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan, his warm and gregarious personality had already been widely reported on. His beaming -- and may I say prominently Irish -- face had been plastered all over the front pages of local newspapers and on the evening news. We had learned early on that he believes in being a joyful shepherd, that he is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion, and that he likes baseball -- though he told me, with a roaring laugh, that he is "pro- choice when it comes to Mets or Yankees."

Yet the early press coverage leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what to expect from this 59-year-old St. Louis native, who inherits not only substantial political, cultural and religious influence in the largest city in the nation but also a lot of challenges. The Roman Catholic Church has long been an important part of the civic fabric of New York. But in recent decades the trends have not been good. Catholic schools have been closing down, young people have been drifting from the faith, and fewer young men and women are entering Catholic Church vocations. What does this optimistic archbishop have up his sleeve?

The issue that most New Yorkers, Catholic or not, may be interested in is whether the diocese's 279 Catholic schools -- an educational lifeline to over 88,000 children -- can survive. More than 50 have closed down in the past 25 years, and those that are left often struggle to get by. Surely they would have a better chance if New York had an education VOUCHER PROGRAM like Milwaukee does? So I began our conversation by asking the archbishop to talk about the Milwaukee experience. His already radiant face brightened even more.

"We called it CHOICE IN EDUCATION and it was a genuine blessing," he says, sitting up in his chair and leaning forward. "It began under Gov. Tommy Thompson, and the idea was that parents would have a choice as to where they would send their children. It was restricted in that it was just the city of Milwaukee, and the parents had to be under a certain income level. But it was so successful" he explains, that demand soon exceeded the cap of 15,000 students.

When that happened, Milwaukeeans wanted to go further. Archbishop Dolan says he was "part of a coalition, two years ago, that worked with Gov. [Jim] Doyle to expand the cap to 22,000 students." As of now it serves about 20,000 children of families that meet strict income limits. "It's been a tremendous boost," he says, smiling enthusiastically.

The archbishop says that "philosophically," as much as practically, the Milwaukee diocese celebrated the voucher program. "The Catholic Church has always been an ardent advocate for parental rights in education," he points out. "The experiment is now about 15 years old, and it is applauded by all sides ... except," he notes in a more somber tone, "there [are] some who would attack it, particularly those associated with the public-school teachers lobby, which is very strong in Wisconsin. They still apparently believe that the government should have a monopoly on education."

Despite the power of that lobby, the archbishop says "the parents and the wider community appreciate [the voucher program]," and he stresses that it is popular with more than just Catholics. "The coalition that supports it is made up of, yes, Catholics, but also many Jewish leaders, civic leaders, many politicians, people who just love and support the community with no religious background at all. There seemed to be a widespread appreciation that this was a tremendous boost to the Milwaukee community, and of course we're always hoping to expand it."

Yet what has been possible in Milwaukee may not be in New York. "The challenge of keeping our wonderful Catholic schools strong, affordable, accessible and available," the archbishop says, is "all the more pressing here in New York because we don't have the blessing of vouchers." His next comment suggests that he doesn't expect them here anytime soon. "I know that the state of New York likes to consider itself kind of on the vanguard of enlightened progressive initiatives, but in this regard Wisconsin is way ahead."

Still, the archbishop is not deterred. After all, he reminds me, one of the greatest New York archbishops of all time, John Hughes, had a similar problem. "He got into a battle in the 1840s with what was called then the New York Public School Society, saying 'I'd like a portion of those [government] funds to educate our children."' He lost that fight but went on to build the city's Catholic school system, which educated masses of Irish immigrants previously considered impossibly ignorant and unruly.

Hughes was continually short of funds, as the diocese is today, but Archbishop Dolan says this too can be kind of a blessing. "It's why the Catholic schools are scrappy," he says. "And in a way that's part of the genius of our schools: We are not rolling in dough. We have to fight for every dime; it becomes a communal endeavor. There is a sense of pride and ownership among the people because, darn it, we fought for this school, we love it, we scraped for it, we have mopped floors and painted classrooms, and we do not take this for granted."

When I rattle off some of the dropping enrollment statistics in the diocese, the archbishop admits that the "schools can really cause us to go for the Maalox and Tylenol. But," he says, "what we have to ask ourselves is 'Are they worth it?' And we say you bet they are. They're worth it because nobody does it better than the [Catholic] Church when it comes to education."

The archbishop admits that at times others in the Catholic Church don't share his enthusiasm. "Some priests and some bishops have lost their nerve when it comes to Catholic schools. [They've] almost said, 'boy they were nice and we'll do our best to keep the ones that we've got but more or less they are on life support and I guess in 50 years they're going to fade away."' The archbishop says his predecessor Cardinal Egan rejected this line of thinking and he does too. "Its time for us bishops to say,. these ... are ... worth ... fighting ... for," he says, emphasizing each word slowly. "These are worth putting at the top of our agenda, and these are worth something not only internally for us as a church as we pass on the faith for our kids and grandkids, but it is also a highly regarded public service that we do for the wider community. And darn it we do it well, we have a great tradition of it and we're not going to stand by and see it collapse."

So what's.the plan? The archbishop, who seems to me part theologian, part historian, and part marketing guru, is already thinking about ways to explore and expand private funding initiatives such as the successful Inner City Scholarship Fund.

He is sure that there can be "wider participation from New York's philanthropic, business and civic community." There are many "who so love the New York community" and see education as "one of the finest investments we can make in the future of our community." Often, he says, givers are not Catholic. "I met someone a week or so ago who said if you ask me my religion I'd probably say I am an atheist, but I love Catholic schools because they do such a sterling job and I am going to support them."

If Archbishop Dolan can save and perhaps even revive the city's Catholic school system, he will be a hero to all of New York. But while he's working on that, he has two other problems that are troubling for the Catholic Church. The first is the growing number of 20- and 30- somethings, raised in the faith, who are not attending Mass or getting married in the Catholic Church. The second is the sharp drop in people choosing Catholic Church vocations.

I asked him what he thinks has gone wrong. For starters, he says, the Catholic Church for too long took for granted the Catholic culture, "when it was presumed that you would go to Sunday Mass, that you would marry a Catholic and be married in the Catholic Church, when it was presumed that you would always remain in the faith, with tons of priests and nuns and Catholic schools to serve you."

Those days are gone, and now he says its time to "recover the evangelizing muscle that characterized the early church." This means putting an end to the "wavering" that has too often characterized the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council and a return to a clear and confident message.

"Very often even the word Catholic, even the word church has had a question mark behind it," he says. "Does it know where it's going? Does it know what its teaching? Is it going to be around? There was a big question mark. A young person will not give his or her life for a question mark. A young person will give his or her life for an exclamation point."

This "recovery" in confidence, he says, began under John Paul II and continues under Pope Benedict XVI. In his new role, Archbishop Dolan intends to keep it going. Being a Catholic is an "adventure in faithfulness," he insists. The Catholic Church, he says, has "a very compelling moral message. She calls us to what is most noble in our human makeup, dares us to become saints, challenges us to heroic virtue."

[Ms. O'Grady writes the Journal's Americas column].