An Airport Encounter

It was only the third time it had happened to me in my nearly thirty-five happy years as a priest, all three times over the last nine-and-a-half years.

Other priests tell me it has happened to them a lot more.

Three is enough.  Each time has left me so shaken I was near nausea.

It happened last Friday . . .

I had just arrived at the Denver Airport, there to speak at their popular annual “Living Our Catholic Faith” conference.

As I was waiting with the others for the electronic train to take me to the terminal, a man, maybe in his mid-forties, waiting as well, came closer to me.

“Are you a Catholic priest?” he kindly asked.

“Sure am.  Nice to meet you,” says I, as I offered my hand.

He ignored it.  “I was raised a Catholic,” he replied, almost always a hint of a cut to come, but I was not prepared for the razor sharpness of the stiletto, as he went on, “and now, as a father of two boys, I can’t look at you or any other priest without thinking of a sexual abuser.”

What to respond?  Yell at him?  Cuss him out?  Apologize?  Deck him?  Express understanding?  I must admit all such reactions came to mind as I staggered with shame and anger from the damage of the wound he had inflicted with those stinging words.

“Well,” I recovered enough to remark, “I’m sure sorry you feel that way.  But, let me ask you, do you automatically presume a sexual abuser when you see a Rabbi or Protestant minister?”

“Not at all,” he came back through gritted teeth as we both boarded the train.

“How about when you see a coach, or a boy scout leader, or a foster parent, or a counsellor, or physician?”  I continued.

“Of course not!” he came back.  “What’s all that got to do with it?”

“A lot,” I stayed with him, “because each of those professions have as high a percentage of sexual abuse, if not even higher, than that of priests.”

“Well, that may be,” he retorted.  “But the Church is the only group that knew it was going on, did nothing about it, and kept transferring the perverts around.”

“You obviously never heard the stats on public school teachers,” I observed.  “In my home town of New York City alone, experts say the rate of sexual abuse among public school teachers is ten times higher than that of priests, and these abusers just get transferred around.”  (Had I known at that time the news in in last Sunday’s New York Times about the high rate of abuse of the most helpless in state supervised homes, with reported abusers simply transferred to another home, I would have mentioned that, too.)

To that he said nothing, so I went in for a further charge.

“Pardon me for being so blunt, but you sure were with me, so, let me ask:  when you look at yourself in a mirror, do you see a sex abuser?”

Now he was as taken aback as I had been two-minutes before.  “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Sadly,” I answered, “studies tell us that most children sexually abused are victims of their own fathers or other family members.”

Enough of the debate, I concluded, as I saw him dazed.  So I tried to calm it down.

“So, I tell you what:  when I look at you, I won’t see a sex abuser, and I would appreciate the same consideration from you.”

The train had arrived at baggage claim, and we both exited together.

“Well then, why do we only hear this garbage about you priests,” he inquired, as he got a bit more pensive.

“We priests wonder the same thing.  I’ve got a few reasons if you’re interested.”

He nodded his head as we slowly walked to the carousel.

“For one,” I continued, “we priests deserve the more intense scrutiny, because people trust us more as we dare claim to represent God, so, when on of us do it – even if only a tiny minority of us ever have — it is more disgusting.”

“Two, I’m afraid there are many out there who have no love for the Church, and are itching to ruin us.  This is the issue they love to endlessly scourge us with.”

“And, three, I hate to say it,” as I wrapped it up, “there’s a lot of money to be made in suing the Catholic Church, while it’s hardly worth suing any of the other groups I mentioned before.”

We both by then had our luggage, and headed for the door.  He then put his hand out, the hand he had not extended five minutes earlier when I had put mine out to him.  We shook.

“Thanks.  Glad I met you.”

He halted a minute.  “You know, I think of the great priests I knew when I was a kid.  And now, because I work in IT at Regis University, I know some devoted Jesuits.  Shouldn’t judge all you guys because of the horrible sins of a few.”

“Thanks!,” I smiled.

I guess things were patched-up, because, as he walked away, he added, “At least I owe you a joke:  What happens when you can’t pay your exorcist?”

“Got me,” I answered.

“You get ‘re-possessed’!”

We both laughed and separated.

Notwithstanding the happy ending, I was still trembling . . . and almost felt like I needed an exorcism to expel my shattered soul, as I had to confront again the horror this whole mess has been to victims and their families, our Catholic people like the man I had just met . . . and to us priests.

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224 Responses to “An Airport Encounter”

  1. Carlos says:

    Dear Archbishop: your argument is good. The enemies of the Church don’t even bother to check the same problem in families, schools, youth associations, etc. However those other associations are just that. The Catholic Church is different. She is the seed of God’s Kingdom. Human we are and nothing human will be foreign to us but we must strive to explain the problem without trying to justify ourselves. Once could simply respond “I could compare the Church to such and such and show you that we are as flawed as they are BUT I prefer to say that –we have failed to live up to the high moral standards that our Lord and Owner left us to hold– For that I ask for your forgiveness. We have failed to be Christ-like but YOU can be like Christ and forgive us AND join us in the effort to expel this evil from our midst.”

    Arrogance and pride are at the root of this great evil and nothing will be solved by “new rules” if humility does not precede action. I haven’t seen one bishop leave his seat and join a penitential order over this scandal. If we don’t humiliate ourselves in confession and penance the accuser will continue to hit successfully. I learned that from the Church. May be it is time for the upper echelons to practice what they teach to us laymen.

    God bless you and guide you always, Your Excellency.

  2. Mary S says:

    I am a little shocked at some of the comments that claim the Archbishop “said that if other groups are guilty of doing it, it is okay for priests”. Nowhere did Archbishop Dolan ever say that or imply that!

    Some folks have an agenda against the Catholic Church’s clergy or Church, I guess, and therefore prefer to read something into anything they read that is just not there. (It’s a dead give-away when they go on later to rant against what the Church has for centuries taught, and still teaches, regarding sexual morality or celibacy. Then you know they had an agenda to push before ever reading the article.)

    The point, as I read it, is that the man in the airport initially equates every single priest he sees with abuse, rather than seeing each man, who is a priest, on his own merits. How simple is that to get??? The Archbishop showed the man the logical error of making that assumption, about anybody, and that is all he did for this man. He was very gracious, as the man in the airport was extremely rude to have said that in the first place.

    Also, the Archbishop expressed his own personal emotional and internal distress at being accosted in such a blunt and vicious way for simply dressing as a priest and being a priest – in public.

    P.S. I agree with DN above. I have had several conversations exactly like that, and I am a woman, not a priest. So, Chris M may not even be a priest.

  3. Angela Kaiser says:

    Dear Archbishop,
    I have just watched your 60 minute interview and Thank You seems like such a small thing to say! I do thank you, you do speak for the Church. I will continue to read your blog and my prayers will be with you and your ministry.

    In Christ,

  4. kenneth says:

    Respectfully every great mind, including Mark Twain, Shakespeare, newton, Da Vinci, Edison etc concluded that Yahweh is more likely to be the clever Devil. Consider “No man shall see me and Live” EX 33:20, It is time for the church to face the fact that we may have all been fooled. Jesus in ever Gospel such as John 8:44 stated the Jews were the children of the Devil, yet he was at least 1/2 jewish. Only by facing the possiblty that we have all been fooled can we understand child sexual predators, regardless if they are priests. Let us seek the real truth. Moses may have been fooled or never existed. “The Truth is Mighty above all” Respectfully Submitted

  5. Rita says:

    Thank you, Your Excellency! You are a wonderful father to us! I’m sorry that had to happen to you, but \he who has, more will be given him.\ And you have A LOT!! Thank you for being such a kind, warm, truly HUMAN father. We in New York City have been very blessed! You’re the best! I love you.

  6. Virginia says:

    We are very fortunate to have you as our Archbishop. Thank you for all you do for us.

  7. Katie says:

    Archibishop Dolan offered kindness and gentleness to the man he met in the airport. He did not defend abusive priests by saying that it was okay because people in other professions also abuse; he argued against the man’s belief that because some priests have committed child abuse that all priests are child abusers.

    Skilled predators cultivate trust within families and communities, not just with individual children. And celibacy is not a cause of child sexual abuse. A severely disordered sexual faculty is at fault there. The “family friend” who molested four of my five daughters was married and (according to his wife) having marital relations on a regular basis during the time the abuse occurred.

  8. Wow! What a great story. Thank you for sharing it. Although you had to suffer through it, God’s grace was clearly with you and you, as His instrument brought peace to that man and also help to others who read your blog.

    God bless you!


  9. Rich says:

    While some of the archbishop’s arguments are “clever”, the blame has to go squarely at the bishops. For too long they have re-assigned, hidden, ignored, or tolerated known clerical sex offenders. Only when the civil authorities stepped in, and thankfully continue to do so, did the bishops start to do something.
    “By their fruits you shall know them”. The bad fruit of Vatican II and the sacramental changes of the past 50 years has gone unchallenged by the bishops as they continue to lead the Church off a precipice until she will be reduced to a mere handful of orthodox believers. The sex scandals are just one of many scandals to hit the modern Church.
    “By their fruits you shall know them”. Look at most Catholic families today and you’ll see “This ain’t your father’s Catholicism”. Many over the past 2 generations have left the Church and most nowadays don’t even attend Mass. WHY?
    “By their fruits you shall know them”. – Because of 2 generations of uncatechized Catholics. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll revealed that 63% of “Catholics” approve of gay-sodomite marriage. This is opposed to a few generations ago when a young catholic woman wouldn’t even consider marrying a non-Catholic man – let alone another WOMAN (vice-versa for men too, not picking on just women!); and gay marriage was rightfully called what it is – one of the 4 sins crying to heaven for vengeance.
    And if you’ve never heard of the 4 sins crying to heaven for vengeance, pick up your grandma’s pre-Vatican 2 catechism and check it out.
    And as you’re reading it, be rest assured that the bishops will continue to give communion to politicians who unapologetically support abortion & gay marriage (Cuomo, Pelosi, Biden, etc etc); yet still will they de-cry the sorry state of the shrinking Church while preaching the “beauty” of all religions, and other non-Catholic ideas.
    Personally, I find Archbishop Dolan to be a very nice man……….a person I’d probably enjoy having a pint with; but in all honesty I wouldn’t want him or any of the other US bishops catechizing my children…I’ll leave that to the Catechism of Trent and the Baltimore Catechism.

  10. Thanks for speaking up to this man, one at a time we have to show the world that this evil is not just happening at the hands of a few “ill priests” but in every corner of the world by any type of person.

    You did a good job helping this one poor guy see the truth. :)

  11. Fr. Tom Zelinski says:

    I have met Archbishop Dolan several times when I lived in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He is a warm human being, who tries to be a good pastor and priest. The encounter in the airport shows his kindness, his honesty and his sense of humor.
    Best wishes to him and his Archdiocese.

  12. Therese says:

    God bless you Archbishop Dolan and thanks be to God you have a quick mind to help others see the truth. If only we could all defend our Church with so much clarity and courage!

  13. Great story. I loved it. I am so happy to have found this blog. It makes the archbishop seem so much more human. Thank you. I will continue to pray for you. I know leading is not easy, especially dealing with such people with prejudices of the church. thank you for your ‘yes’ to God.

  14. alloycowboy says:

    Greetings Archbishop Dolan,

    I just saw an interesting clip on Realcatholictv. I was wondering if you would like to take a stab at a response as it doesn’t seem to far off the mark. I also know as Archbishop you are more often then not pushing on the rope rather then gently pulling on it like you want too.



  15. Dee says:

    You did well. We thank the Holy Spirit for you to follow through to the finish. We pray for all our priests to follow your example and take up the challenge presented to them. Thank you for sharing with everybody Bishop Timothy Dolan.

  16. Nancy Dietz says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan: First, I missed 60 minutes…I say this because I try to make it a point never to miss you when you speak, etc. I even watched the Bishops Conference on EWTN and was thrilled when they made you President. My favorite is watching you with Father Groeschel…your wit and sense of humor is a God send to say the least. I am so sorry you had to have that encounter but I can understand how some people are affected by this…it will all come out at “the end”. Keep up the wonderful work you do for everyone…you have been blessed with just about everything. I just hope you get to read all the wonderful comments.

  17. Deacon Rick says:

    Let us not forget that “generally”, the abuse scandal is not about priests becoming predators…it’s about predators becoming priests.

  18. A Catholic says:

    Your Excellency,

    With all due respect, I am sick of this. Public school teachers are a target right now, and because you were attacked (albeit SOMEWHAT unfairly) in public you turn around and attack school teachers. This is unseemly. It is as if you said to yourself: “which group of people has access to children and is even more disliked than priests…. I know… SCHOOL TEACHERS!)

    Here are the facts: if a school teacher is charged with any sort of sexual abuse, that teacher will likely lose their certification. Once certification is lost, they are no longer a part of a union, and they are not protected. They can easily be fired. Furthermore, it would be illegal to employ them as a teacher without said certification. Anyone with credible charges against them has their certification yanked. The news media, which you continually try to portray as biased, knows this fact. The reality is that sick people who want access to kids will try to coach, will go into teaching etc. etc. Sick people hiding from ALL SORTS of sexual problems may be tempted to seek ordination to the priesthood for obvious reasons. We must be cautious.

    It is wrong of you to go around attacking public school teachers. I am getting fed up. I live all the teachings of the Church, assent to Humanae Vitae, and love the Latin Mass, and all I hear from the likes of George Weigel, and now yourself, is how unfit we are in my profession. I used to teach in Catholic schools. My wife and I live Church teaching. That means she stays home with our wonderful growing family. We can’t afford it on what you and your brother Bishops pay teachers in your schools. That is why so many teachers in YOUR schools excellency are heretics who spend a great deal of their time undermining the faith. Young women who live Church teaching have kids and growing numbers of them. Young men who live the Church’s teaching have growing families to feed. They leave Church schools if teaching is their profession. That is why so many of us home-school.

    I know several school teachers who live and assent to Humanae Vitae, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US is a public school teacher. I know several Catholic school teachers. Some are not Catholic. Most do not practice their faith.

    Your Excellency, stop blaming others for problems you and your brother bishops have created. And stop beating up on school teachers as a convenient target.

  19. Michelle says:

    With all due respect Archbishop, this seems like a divinely inspired encounter this Lent. You, innocent as you are, were convicted and judged by the acts of the guilty. The pain that you felt … would this have been a sharing of Christ’s suffering? Could it have been His way of showing you what it felt like for Him, to be condemned for the sins of others?

    Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

  20. Judi Bulanowski says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan:
    First, I am a Denver resident and native, and attended your key note address at the Living Our Catholic Faith conference (I was helping a friend with her booth, and she graciously let me go so I could hear you speak). I enjoyed your talk on JPII, and I know a lot of other enthusiastic Catholics did too!! Thank you so much for coming to Colorful Colorado to be a part of the conference!!! I’m just sorry that you had to endure what is unfortunately not an uncommon excuse for dislike/distrust of the Church!
    I found this to be the most timely posting I have ever read. I was having an exchange today with a woman who is considering becoming a Catholic and she asked me why so many Priests abuse children. I must have been channeling you, because my response included almost every point that you made to the gentleman you were talking with. I began my response with an acknowledgment that a single priest may have abused a large number of children, but by comparison, the known abusers are a small percentage of the over 40,000 Priests in the U.S. I then proceeded with the comparisons to teachers, daycare/preschool workers, etc. We also discussed the reasons why only the Church is attacked and why comparisons to other population groups are never mentioned in the press. She found the discussion enlightening, and she clearly saw how the devil can work, even inside the Catholic Church, to try to destroy faith with lies. I forwarded your article to her, and I swear I could hear an audible gasp when she read it!!

    Thank you for taking the time to engage the gentleman and not dismiss him as a nut. Perhaps now he will go forth, and his new understanding of the Truth will bear fruit with other Catholics who have formed “uninformed” opinions of the matter.

    God Bless you!!!

  21. Elcie says:

    It seems to me that the media and others want to highlight the priestly scandal in order to vindicate society and possibly themselves personally for promiscuity. They hate the Catholic Church because she teaches most strongly against sins of a sexual nature therefore they go after the Church whenever possible. They believe that if priests commit such heinous acts, it must be because of celebacy which has caused them to supress that which is natural and right. Secularists believe chastity is impossible to achieve and is unnatural for anyone. This validates their ideas on population control through birth control, abortion and euthanasia. Let’s face the truth, the goal of many is to to eliminate the undesireables of the population.

  22. Guggie Daly says:

    Thank you for sharing! This does an excellent job of showing how the average person is prone to prioritizing fear based on perception as opposed to reality. I had one person tell me she removed her children from Catholic school and placed them in public school to protect them from sex abusers. My jaw could have been swept off the ground, lol!

  23. William A. Kysela, M.S. says:

    This story is probably happening all over…priests and religious are feeling the shame of the sins of a few…guess we now know how Jesus felt! He felt the shame of all the sins of the whole human race. I was raised in a deeply devout Roman Catholic family, attended Catholic grade school, Jesuit high school and university and Dominican Graduate School (Barry University – Miami Shores, Fl – class of ’76 – Never ever, not once, not ever was I ever molested or sexually harassed by ANYONE!!! This tells me one thing!! Most of these cases are trumped up cases designed to make money or out of hatred of our church. To all innocent clergy, priests, bishops and members of the church I say: Hold your heads up high! Be proud of who you are and all you have done and rejoice because of the persecution. Jesus said it would come and IT’s HERE!!
    Just think on the list (gigantic) of all who have suffered for Christ Jesus; Peter, Paul, the North American Martyrs, the Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns who evangelized Northwestern Canada in the 1800’s, most who are unknown and unsung; the list is endless. To all our clergy, priests, teachers in this wonderful family of God, I have only one thing to say: WE LOVE YOU ALL AND ALWAYS WILL – TO THE DEATH!!!
    By the way, Bishop Dolan’s Lenten messages are inspirational. Keep up the great work. James 1:2-4

  24. Joe says:

    God bless you, Your Excellency! You are in my prayers.


    Every family has a prodigal son or a bad apple. Despite it all we still
    love our family members, warts and all. I shall never abandon my
    Catholic faith nor the priests who nurtured me in my parochial school day.

  26. Justin B. says:

    You handled it quite well, Your Excellency! Way to go! Keep up the good work. I no longer have Sirius and I miss listening to you so I am glad for this blog.

  27. Alberto (from Spain) says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan:

    I have read a reference to this entry in your blog in Spain, and I am really really impressed.

    Your words and your clever response has impressed me a lot of, I’m a bad catholic but the last furious attacks to our Religion has converted me in a better Catholic.

    Now I have a PERFECT response if somebody ask me… why you are a Catholic if there is a lot of Catholic priest that are sexual abusers?

    And this response (sorry for my doubts) is valid for me too.


    Sorry for my English.

  28. Christina says:

    Every day is filled with trials. Some are of greater magnitude than others. Each trial teaches us a very important lesson. We must face each trial with grace. Meaning our own thoughts should be set aside and our Lord must speak through us. As a Catholic, I have been chastized many times. I do not take offense but listen carefully and learn from the accuser. I find that it is their ignorance of the Catholic church that leads them to judge so harshly. It is also false teaching that they have learned within other churches. I was once told by a Baptist that he had had an epiphany about Muslims. He said he must stop hating Muslims. He continued on about why he felt that way. By the end of the conversations he was bashing the Catholic church. Telling me of stories he had heard about priests and nuns. I only listened throughout the whole conversation while praying for God’s words. At the end of his speaking the words spilled out, “Perhaps you should have an epiphany about the Catholic church.”
    The Archbishop spoke with grace and his words were not harsh but in a teaching manner. There are many who are not Godly and hating one specific group of people was wrong. This man has to forgive (not because whomever hurt him deserves it but because it has hindered his own spirit from growing). Anger and hatred are not of God. In forgiving he is not a victim anymore of his offender. His spirit is free to love as God intended.

  29. Miriam (Spain) says:

    My dear Archbishop Dolan,
    I want to express my congratulation because you have destroyed in a moment all the prejudices that “The New York Times” and other media have built day after day with their anti-catholic speech.
    I’m conscious that our Church is being persecuted, I see it in things are happening in my Parish, in my Diocese, in my country but ‘People’ us you give us an example about what meaning to be Catholic.

    Thanks for all.

    We are waiting for you in Madrid this summer, don’t forget it!


  30. Christine Ries says:

    Dear Archbishop,

    I shared your blog entry with everyone I know—on Facebook. It was the most “real” article about this issue that I’ve ever read. What struck me most was how for once a priest did not cower and take the lashes of assumption, judgement and hate directed toward him and finally spoke up and made the other person think about what they were saying. I am the only faithful, practicing Catholic in my family—my grandmother, God rest her soul, was the other person in our family—her 4 children and all of their children (with the exception of me) do not practice the faith they were raised in….it is more than sad…but some of the things I’ve heard them say as to the reasons why they are no longer Catholic include the priest scandals….I hope everyone reads this and it makes them think….yes, a LOT of money is to be made by harming the church….and Satan is having a field day! But Jesus has already won the battle….

  31. Janie Southerland says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan:
    Your response to the “accuser” was timely.for it was one of love, understanding and compassion for all who falsely accuse us, however, this is the “cross” that we must bear as heirs to the throne of a heavenly King. What a great time to be reminded of this message during the Lenten Season; Jesus was falsely accused, suffered, died and was buried for the sins of all including His accusers. Victoriously, He arose and lives in the hearts of all people. So, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross alone and all the world go free? No! there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me!” This is the cross that we must bear in His name and for His sake! God’s Blessings upon you and all who have given their lives to His service.

    A Convert to Catholicism in Florida

  32. Bridget Panzer says:

    We need them in life’s early morning,
    We need them again at its close;
    We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
    We seek it while tasting life’s woes.

    When we come to this world we are sinful,
    The greatest as well as the least.
    And the hands that make us pure as angels
    Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

    At the altar each day we behold them,
    And the hands of a king on his throne
    Are not equal to them in their greatness
    Their dignity stands alone.

    For there in the stillness of morning
    Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
    There God rests between the pure fingers
    Of the beautiful hands of a priest.

    When we are tempted and wander
    To pathways of shame and sin
    ‘Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
    Not once but again and again.

    And when we are taking life’s partner
    Other hands may prepare us a feast
    But the hands that will bless and unite us,
    Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

    God bless them and keep them all holy,
    For the Host which their fingers caress,
    What can a poor sinner do better
    Than to ask Him who chose them to bless

    When the death dews on our lids are falling,
    May our courage and strength be increased
    By seeing raised o’er us in blessing
    The beautiful hands of a priest.

  33. Barbara Ferraro says:

    Dear Archbishop, I am not a Catholic any more, not because of Catholic priests, but simply because I felt led to join a different church, a 4-Square Gospel church. I have known many good Catholic priests and I do not immediately see anything negative when I encounter any priests today. I know that they are not all bad, just as people everywhere are not all bad, and not every priest has been a sexual abuser. I especially liked the way you handled the situation, although I could feel your hurt in response to his first statements; you defused the situation and had you given in to your human emotions, would have caused it to become violent. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that we and God know we have not done these things, there are times when we would like to be able to defend ourselves in order to prove others wrong, but when we allow God to control our human emotions, He gives us the backing and support and even the words that we need in rebuttal. God bless you always.

  34. John Thomas says:

    The archbishop could also have asked the man’s views on the promotion of homosexuality (including sex with adolescents) as it is found in the media (and such as government). Presumably it is only “abuse” when Catholic clergy do it; and maybe the Catholic clergy who were guilty of abuse were only responding to the “Spirit of the Age” as promoted by … media, governments, academia, etc. If a media star does anything, that’s generally OK … but the Catholic Church!!! Horror!!!

  35. Helen Back says:


    Why defend? This is where you fall down again and again, and this is why I left the church.

    When in the world has that ever been an acceptable response from moral people—-to point out that lots of other people have done the same awful thing so why not pick on them for a while? Blech! Ridiculous! Yes, you will find sexual predators in any field that offers the opportunity to work with kids. You will also find in many instances that the people in authority in these fields did not respond with appropriate expediency and justice when abuse was discovered. But really…..

    Do you really not understand why priests carry a greater stigma than other abusers?

    This is the exasperating arrogance that continues to tell me you all still don’t get it.

    What if, instead of pointing out all the other predators, you simply said,”I’m sorry.”

    When I have a bad day and maybe I’ve been grumpy with my kids, I make sure I don’t pepper my apology with excuses about being tired or worried or whatever, because that’s not really taking responsibility and that’s not really being sorry. That’s,”Oh, I know I’ve acted badly but here are all the reasons why it’s really not my fault, and in fact you should actually be feeling sorry for me.” I’m trying to raise moral, ethical kids that know right from wrong and take personal responsibility for themselves.

    Yes, public schools, group homes, all sorts of institutions have housed and sheltered abusers and afforded them the opportunity to damage children. Those institutions have NOT claimed to be the moral authority for anyone. Those institutions do NOT wield the power that the church does.

    The church sex abuse scandal continues to draw more scrutiny, more media attention, and more sensationalized press coverage because of WHO you are. Are you really feeling self-pity that you’re being picked on—so silly! You should welcome the attention. This was an opportunity to shine, to heal, to show the world what it looks like to fail morally and pick up and do the right thing anyway. Stop defending it and start owning it. Nothing difuses an attack quicker than accepting responsibility.

  36. A Discouraged Catholic says:

    While I applaud the archbishop for speaking out – it is getting tiresome to hear two messages coming from those in authority: 1) We’re sorry about the abuse. We’ll do better in the future — this, while St. Peter Damian was writing about clerical abuse of children to the pope in *his* day, and he was ignored. Look up “The Book of Gomorrah”. And 2) Well, *other* folks abuse more than we do, so it’s not so bad.

    The Roman Catholic Church, that calls itself the “fullness” of the Christian faith, needs to start walking the walk, and not just talking the talk. For starters: we need MEN to be in management of the Church. Enough men-boys that whine and cast blame in every other direction but at themselves.

    While only a small percentage of priests abused minors and teenage boys, many priests are having sexual relationships with WOMEN and with other MEN. It’s so common, it’s called a “lapse”. Bishops hide the secret, as do other priests, that have their own ‘lapses’ to cover up.

    The first way to ensure MEN (responsible, godly, grown-up men) will be in church leadership is to stop the man-made practice of mandatory celibacy for priests. That will give women their rightful role in the Church, and families to serve as good role models.

    There is sanctifying grace and maturity that comes in godly, covenantal marriage. Clergy is being denied that grace and the growth that comes with it, resulting in silly statements like THIS one- that teachers abuse more than priests do…

    I’m sure the Archbishop is about as good a cleric/leader as these men come – but he’s still a man-boy, he’s not a MAN. Men do not point fingers at other groups- well Adam pointed to Eve, and then he blamed GOD. But we are to be mature Christians.
    How will we get there without godly role models? Let ALL clergymen be married, and at any time in his life. No promises of celibay to anyone at any time. God does not require it.

    An women are not to be priests – that is NOT in Scripture nor in universal church Tradition. But married priests, bishops and even popes ARE in both Scripture & in Tradition.

    St. Patrick was the grandson of a priest and the son of a deacon. If St. Peter wanted to enter the seminary today, he would be refused in the Latin rite, because he was MARRIED, as were most of the other apostles – A reference for my fellow Catholics, Please read: 1 Corinthians 9:5.

  37. Mike Clauberg says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    I have similiar arguments with people. I work as a catholic teacher and a youth minister out east on Long Island. Your article, just gave me a stronger foundation to support it. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    your friend in Christ,

    Mike, East Moriches

  38. Theresa in Alberta says:

    Here in my city edmonton, alberta canada,about 20 years ago,,there was a small article about one inch in length talking about how a Baptist church in my neighbourhood had a convicted, non-repentive child abuser as one of its youth ministers!! we need MORE bishops and priests like Dolan!!!!!!!!

  39. Jim Carras says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan:
    I met you with my family at a Met’s/Dodgers game at City Field last season and it was a real pleasure. I respect you and fellow priest for all the good work you do. Your comments to a fellow passenger were right on. Many people are trying to single priest out because of what you stand for. Our faith!
    My former pastor is being accused a second time. I was an alter server for him for several years and never was he inappropriate to any of the young men during that time. I stand beside him in this battle to support him.
    I speak often of my meeting you at the ball game. I tell people of what a great person you are and reading your story only reinforces my belief in you. God Bless!

  40. jan says:

    What a breath of fresh air it was to read the story of your airport encounter. We in Boston really need to hear these experiences. Our dear Cardinal faces many difficult days and we pray fervently for Him. Courage, Your Eminence, God’s hand is on us and is strong. The garden is almost in bloom.
    IHS, J

  41. ciao says:

    Archbishop, I am very happy to find your blog. I will be reading it regularly.

    I believe your comment to the man at the airport was more factual than a lot of Americans are willing to admit.
    There are many websites with facts that back up your statement ie. and, an article from 4/09/2010. I have read some of them and they do indicate the obvious silence in the media and other places, that show how horrendously high the statistics are for abuse to minors in schools by teachers and it can’t be overlooked that a lot of society is suffering from the wickedness of child abuse in some form.

    TV and internet sites continue to contribute to the exploitation and corruption of minors, with very little objection from those who should be protecting youth.

    Thank you Archbishop for speaking your mind, and I’m glad you are the head of the US Bishops.

  42. Bill O'Brien says:

    RE: Rich says: March 26, 2011 at 6:04 am
    Rich, I agree with a few things that you say, others I don’t, still others you do not give enough information to support your comments. Other than that, you seem to be coming out of the left field somewhere. I am really baffled by some of the things you say.
    First, Archbishop is part of the SOULUTION not the problem. He seems conservative himself and supports Rome. To me these are both GOOD. He is not a liberal Democrat like Pelosi, Reid, and Cuomo. They must have been under Liberal Bishops, who told them to send the Priests to counseling to ‘cure’ them and return them to duty. They all think physiologists can cure anyone. Except the disordered thinking of a person with same sex attraction, because they still think they are going to find the gay gene.
    You seem to have the same problem that the man at the airport had with ALL PRIESTS. Well I really think you need to do a little research…. And I will try to help you out …. Dr. Charol Shakeshaft Ph.D., a scholar from Hofstra University completed a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, in compliance with the 2002 “No Child Left Behind” act signed into law by President Bush, between 6 percent and 10 percent of public school children across the country have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers. It is estimated that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a school employee from a single decade—1991-2000. That compares with about five decades of cases of abusive found in the church by clergy and religious. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a report on the nature and scope of their abuse problems, found almost 11,000 cases of abuse by about 4,000 priests and deacons since 1950. That is 290,000 over a NINE-YEAR period vs. 4,000 over a FIFTY-YEAR period. Shakeshaft commented that such figures led her to contend: “…the physical sexual abuse of students in the schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priest.” She went on to say… “….the Catholic Church is the safest place for kids right now…” (To learn more Google: Charol Shakeshaft PhD. and do a little research followed by some soul searching.

    Finally, I would like to know if you have read the bible. Have you read the new Catechism? Have you read Pope Benedicts New books on Jesus of Nazareth, or have you bothered to read the book: ‘Light of the World’? By George Weigel? If and when you finish with that… you might want to read the Documents of the Vatican II Council. They truly are INCREDIBLE. They are historically accurate and return the church to her Roots of the early Christian Communities. Vatican II is much more Catholic than we’ve had the past 2 centuries. Please reconsider, that Baltimore CC is really bad in comparison.
    The problem with the church is really reflected in the years after WWII and through the 80’s. . The 40-year LACK of TRUTH and AUTHETICITY in the American Church is why THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Catholics have left the Church NOT because of VATICAN II. These liberals in control here in the US fought it tooth and nail and have constantly tried to “do their own thing” and NOT follow Rome’s Advice. People are just now beginning to wake up to this reality. People like Dolan are trying to take the church back from them. So many people in our day and age are ‘fed up’ the Liberals in our Churches who preach tolerance and relativism, much like our wonderful PUBLIC SCHOOLS and COLLEGE CAMPUSES. THEY too are failing MISERABLY. WAKE up to the TRUTH found in SACRED SCRIOTRUE & TRADITION of Mother Church. It took me awhile to put my finger on the real problem, because like President Obama, the Liberals in our Church offer change… but they just keep going in the wrong direction. Like the US and congress in general, we all need to turn back to “the Faith of Our Fathers.” It will be people like Pope Benedict and Archbishop Dolan who will lead the way.

    Keep the Faith…don’t let anyone steel it away from you!
    Bill O.


  43. Kate says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for your continued guidance. Please pray for us as we pray for you :)

  44. sally thompson says:

    I think the faithful, in the seat parishoners could use some defending the faith lessons. For we too are often faced with similiar angry ex Catholics or disconnected Catholics. We need to understand the history of our church and its sins, in order to defend our faith in Jesus and worship in the Catholic Church.

  45. Dan says:

    Wonderful job Archbishop! I’m glad it had a happy ending despite the very rough beginning.

  46. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    Your Excellency, any horror in your soul does not compare to the horror the victims feel in their souls — at least, those who haven’t committed suicide. Even with your gregarious humor, I still think you are soft-pedaling the situation. Perhaps that’s natural a kind of post-traumatic stress response. Nevertheless, a humorous retort to an isolated individual will never undo the damage that abusive priests — and enabling bishops — have done. That damage is considerable, not only because it destroys the Church’s moral credibility (especially on sexual issues) but it drags God’s holy name through the mud. How many people have lost faith in a merciful, grace-filled, compassionate, tender God because of the abuse they have suffered, not just from priests but from clergymen from other denominations, as well?

    The fact remains that Pope Benedict has yet to discipline two of the worst enablers, Cardinal Sodano and Bishop McCormick. Unless, that happens, and unless the Pope takes similar measures against other enablers (such as evicting Cardinal Law from his comfortable sinecure), then how can we taking anything the Church says seriously on this issue?

    With all due respect, I’m afraid your response was nothing but another form of evading moral responsibility. The Church has done far too much of that for far too long.

  47. Irene says:

    Would it be possible to post a thread on the current government budget process and Catholic teaching? There are massive cuts proposed in basic safety net programs; could the Archbishop comment on this please?

  48. Bob Zyskowski, St. Paul says:

    Archbishop, I know our church is against cloning, but for your the pope ought to make an exception and put a clone of you in the cathedra of every diocese! Sto Lat!

  49. Maria de los Angeles Fuentes says:

    Excelente articulo .
    Para tener argumentos y defendera a nuestros sacerdotes… quienes la mayoria son fieles a su ministerio.


  50. Alejandro Schweikart says:

    you are right, press has to make money selling scandals, and people is always trying to get money from the church, that’s the major reason why catholic priest are in the newspaper.