In a return visit to his former archdiocese, His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called Catholics to regain their faith in the Church as an institution and a community.
A crowd of 4,000 gathered at the Milwaukee Theatre Thursday night to hear Dolan present the archdiocese’s annual Pallium Lecture Series, in which the cardinal warned of the Catholic Church’s dwindling popularity.
“We live in what scholars are calling a post ecclesial era,” Dolan said, “(People) want Christ without his Church, and for us as Catholics, that is impossible.”
He mentioned the growing numbers of ex-Catholics who recently left the Church because they were “shocked, saddened and nauseated by sinful actions of Catholics, including the clergy and hierarchy.” Alleged claims of sexual abuse against Catholic priests have increased around the world in the past few years. In July, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released files documenting child sex abuse allegations against 42 priests as part of a deal in with the victims in federal bankruptcy court. Dolan said the Church would have to admit its downfalls before regaining its credibility.
“It’s not a bad idea to fess up to the sinful side of the Church,” he said, “because we need a repentant Church.”
The cardinal described the Church as a supernatural family, and said though it may be flawed, Catholics must learn to forgive those within that family and love the Church in spite of those scandals.
Dolan also called for a renewed emphasis on apologetics so the faithful, particularly young people, can better learn how to defend their faith.
The speech marked the 10th anniversary of the Pallium Lectures, which Dolan began in 2003 during his first year as Archbishop of Milwaukee as a way to build a relationship with the locals. In his closing remarks, Archbishop Jerome Listecki said it was only fitting to celebrate the anniversary with the man who initiated the series.