Archbishop Timothy Dolan gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal that appeared on their web site today. Two of the topics covered caught my attention (all emphasis mine).
On Catholic schools
The archbishop admits that at times others in the Catholic Church don't share his enthusiasm [for Catholic schools]. "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 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."
On the decline in Mass attendance and vocations
It's 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 [the Church] 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 fidelity," 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."