Cardinal Dolan Reflects on the Church and Accountability

Archbishop of New York Receives Recommendations From Holy See After Ad Limina Visit

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NEW YORK, AUG. 10, 2012 ( In his weekly Catholic New York column, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reflected on the theme of accountability, and announced that the Vatican has responded to New York’s Quinquennial Report, which was submitted in the context of their recent ad limina visit.

The New York archbishop emphasized the importance of accountability in the Church. «In the past, at times, some Catholics acted like the Church was above reproach, exempt from the demands of accountability, on its own, above it all. That was wrong. That was tragic,» he wrote. 

As leader of the Catholic Church in New York, the cardinal said he himself was accountable to many and in a special way, to the Holy See. Regarding the ad limina visit, the cardinal said that the «Holy Father and the prefects of the different departments of the Vatican asked some tough questions of us and, yes, offered some chiding. They listened to us as well.»

Cardinal Dolan went on to say that he recently received a reply from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, regarding the ad limina visit. 

The Vatican official highlighted six points for the cardinal and New York Catholics:

— Defense of marriage

— Threats to religious freedom in the United States

— Effects of the sexual abuse crisis

— New evangelization, particularly regarding Sunday Mass, the sacrament of penance, university ministry, and reaching out to fallen-away Catholics

— Seminaries and the low number of vocations

— Pastoral planning, particularly regarding parishes and schools, with a reminder that closing parishes or schools is difficult for the faithful

Among the areas addressed by the Apostolic See, the cardinal wrote that although the Holy See shared the disappointment at the results of New Yorkers’ attempt to defend marriage, they «did commend the Catholic community here for vigorously exercising its duty as believers and as loyal citizens in defending marriage.»

The Holy See also expressed concern over the current struggle for religious freedom in the United States, «in the very country that has been looked to as the guarantor and defender of that first of our liberties given us by God.»

Regarding the effects of the scandal of sexual abuse, «The Vatican encouraged us to continue our sensitive vigilance leading to a renewal of trust in the Church and community, so that the Church can be seen as a sanctuary for our youth and children,» he said. 

The Archbishop of New York concluded his column stating that overall he was encouraged as well as challenged by the Holy See’s recommendations. «Good accountability usually does that,» the cardinal said. 

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