New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan

  • Share
  • Read Later
Mary Altaffer / AP

Cardinal Edward Egan, left, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan

A beloved Milwaukee priest known for his jocular demeanor (he once said Mass in a bright orange Wisconsin-cheesehead hat) and for restoring the archdiocese's reputation following a sex scandal, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, 59, is set to be the next Archbishop of New York City, perhaps the nation's most prominent pulpit. Dolan inherits the second largest archdiocese in the United States, with 2.5 million Catholics in nearly 400 churches, on April 15. Known as a staunch defender of church orthodoxy, he is succeeding retiring Cardinal Edward Egan at a crucial time: the church in New York City faces a bleak economic future and is dealing with the fallout from a spate of controversial church and school closings. His résumé indicates that he's well suited for the challenge: Dolan helped unite the fragmented Catholic community in Milwaukee and staved off bankruptcy amid costly lawsuits stemming from the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandals of the 1990s.

Although the burly, ruddy-faced "guy's guy" is known to speak warmly of his love for the Milwaukee Brewers during his homespun homilies and has a penchant for whiskey and beer (typically Miller), he's a devoted, albeit genial, enforcer of Rome's conservative ideologies. On matters of doctrine, Dolan adheres to the course laid out firmly by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI — one that includes unflinching support for policies concerning priestly celibacy, abortion, birth control, divorce and gay marriage. (See pictures of Pope Benedict XVI visiting America.)

His orthodox theology is tempered by extroversion and charisma, a stark contrast to his predecessor, whom New York City Catholics widely viewed as distant. Dolan promises to "engage" rather than confront politicians who are in favor of abortion rights and foster much-needed ecumenical dialogue with the city's diverse community. He has already committed to keeping Catholic schools open and bringing vigor to the church's recruitment efforts. And he naturally plans to shift his baseball allegiance to the Yankees.

Fast Facts:

• Born on Feb. 6, 1950, the oldest of five children. In 1964, he entered St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South in Shrewsbury, Mo., and graduated from Cardinal Glennon College with a degree in philosophy.

• Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on June 19, 1976. He earned his doctorate in American-church history at the Catholic University of America in Washington in 1983. His dissertation was on Archbishop Edwin V. O'Hara, a founder of the Catholic Biblical Association of America.

• In 1987, was appointed to a five-year term as secretary to the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington. (He speaks fluent Italian.) He returned to St. Louis in 1992 and was appointed vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

• In 1994, was appointed rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he also taught at Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

• Wrote a book in 2000, Priests for the Third Millennium, which is used in some seminaries in the U.S. Composed mainly of a series of lectures he gave while in Rome, it lays out the challenges currently facing Catholic priests and seminarians.

• Named auxiliary bishop of St. Louis in 2001 after another priest, former Archbishop Rembert Weakland, resigned after acknowledging that the archdiocese paid a $450,000 out-of-court settlement to a man who claimed Weakland had sexually assaulted him.

• In Milwaukee, has received good grades for reaching out to young people (occasionally over a beer or two) and recruiting new seminarians; the Milwaukee archdiocese expects to ordain six men in 2009, as opposed to just one ordination a few years ago.

• A Herculean fundraiser, helped his archdiocese avoid bankruptcy amid the lawsuits that followed the priest sexual-abuse scandal. He effectively closed a $3 million budget deficit in 2008 and also started a fundraising campaign that he claims has raised $57.5 million in pledges, more than halfway to its goal.

• Knows only a bit of Spanish, the mother tongue of one-third of Catholics in the New York City Archdiocese.

Quotes By:

"I come before you in awe, and I admit some trepidation knowing that I've got an awful lot to learn."
— Addressing the diocese at a news conference following a Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan
Los Angeles Times, Feb. 24

"This is the time we priests need to be renewing our pledge to celibacy, not questioning it."
— Responding to claims that celibate commitment is to blame for clerical sexual abuse
New York Times, Sept. 5, 2003

"I'd prefer a bit of Jameson's, but milk will do."
— Responding to a woman's inquiry on how the Archbishop takes his coffee
New York Times, Feb. 23

"Does it haunt me? Yes, it does. And I'm not afraid to admit that."
— On his handling of the sex-abuse scandal, calling the issue the most challenging of his tenure in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 24

"I've already learned how to order a hot dog from the cart outside the cathedral."
— On getting used to his new hometown
New York Daily News, Feb. 23

"Happiness attracts."
— On his strategy for increasing recruitment to the priesthood
New York Times, Feb. 23

Quotes About:

"He gives religion a good name."
— Monsignor Thomas J. Shelley, a priest and a historian at Fordham University who has known the Archbishop for 25 years
New York Times, Feb. 23

"A choice for the center-right with a human face."
— John L. Allen Jr., the National Catholic Reporter's veteran Vatican correspondent on Archbishop Dolan's appointment
The Times Online, Feb. 23

"He is with Rome on the big issues and on the little ones. But he does not do so in a dictatorial fashion."
— William J. Thorn, journalism professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee
New York Times, Feb. 24

"I was at the vespers when he was installed, and there's a party where the bishop knocks on the door. Most do it timidly — tap, tap. Not him — bang, bang! It echoed through the cathedral and let everyone know that Timothy Dolan was there."
— The Rev. Steven M. Avella, a history professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee
New York Times, Feb. 24

Read about Catholic indulgences making a comeback.

See TIME's Pictures of the Week.