Prelate on What a Bishop Should Be
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, 6 DEC. 2004 (ZENIT)
Every bishop has a threefold calling to teach, govern and sanctify,
but few fulfill that office as well as John Paul II.
So says Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who shared with ZENIT how
the Pope's example and recent writings on the role of a bishop have
influenced the American prelate's own service to the Church.
Part 2 of this interview will appear Tuesday.
Q: How have the Holy Father's "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way," and his
recent exhortation "Pastores Gregis" influenced your perspective on the
role of the bishop?
Archbishop Dolan: They have influenced my perspective on the role of the
bishop quite profoundly and in a number of ways.
First of all, both his beautiful book "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way"
(Warner Books) and the postsynodal exhortation "Pastores Gregis"
emphasize the tremendous need for sanctity and prayer in a bishop. In
reading the Holy Father's reflections on his own episcopal ministry, one
is amazed at all that he did.
But what is so clear is that before we bishops can do things, we have to
be someone. We have to be united with Jesus the Good Shepherd. We have
to be on the road to holiness. We have to be men of prayer. We have to
be aware of our configuration to Jesus.
The only way we can be what we are called to be as bishops is through
prayer and the sacraments.
The Holy Father is a man of intense prayer. "Pastores Gregis" emphasizes
repeatedly the necessity for regular, deep, consistent prayer in the
life of the bishop. The people need to see their bishop at prayer. Lord
knows the Holy Father calls us to do many things; that's called
ministry. But everything we do is only fruitful, is only effective, is
only filled with meaning if it flows from who we are.
Men as bishops are configured at the core of our being to Jesus the Good
Shepherd. And the only way to do that is through prayer, the Eucharist,
the sacrament of reconciliation, meditation on his Word, spiritual
reading, retreats and days of recollection.
I always offer 8 a.m. Mass each Sunday at the Cathedral of St. John the
Evangelist here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Not too long ago, after
that Mass, someone said to me, "Archbishop, I want to let you know
something that you do that has influenced me and has had a good effect
Well, I was expecting her to speak about me visiting someone in the
hospital or being in the soup kitchen, or one of my sermons, or a
project. To my complete surprise, she told me that what has most
affected her is that she sees me praying my Divine Office in the Blessed
Sacrament Chapel of the cathedral a half-hour before my Sunday morning
Now I didn't even think that this would have an impact on someone. But,
For her to see me as a bishop taking my prayer seriously
for her to know that I recognize that I am no good unless I am
completely reliant upon the grace and mercy of the Lord
that spoke volumes to her. That was evangelization. So that is the first
thing the Pope has taught me in his recent work: I must be holy.
Secondly, I have learned from the Pope's writings the power of presence.
The Pope knows that it is very important for people to see their bishop,
to be with him. Priests know this is true in their pastoral ministry.
Pastoral leaders know this, and bishops know this.
We are sort of Cal Ripkens
the great ballplayer on the Baltimore Orioles who simply showed up every
game and broke a record because of his consistency. He was just there.
Most of life is just showing up. And for a bishop, we need to show up.
We need to be with our people. They need to see us, and the closer the
They need to see us at wakes, at hospitals, in the schools, at Mass,
celebrating the sacraments and teaching.
Well, the Holy Father did this heroically as archbishop of Krakow. He
does that heroically as Bishop of Rome and he is teaching us the power
I think the third message that I learned as a bishop both in "Rise, Let
Us Be on Our Way" and in "Pastores Gregis" was the necessity of being a
real agent of evangelization for the culture.
You see, the Holy Father knew that he needed to be at the university. He
needed to meet with intellectuals. He needed to be there with the poets,
the scientists, the teachers. All those who have a role in forming
minds, hearts and souls in society and in culture, they had to be
evangelized. That taught me something as a bishop because I don't know
how well I do that. I sometimes think I might leave that to others.
But we bishops must engage culture so that everybody that has a
normative role in culture, whether that be the media, artists,
scientists, teachers, politicians, business leaders, civic leaders,
they all need the leaven of the Gospel. And the bishop has a profound
duty to be with them, to bring that evangelizing message, that saving
message of Jesus Christ and his Church, to the culture.
Q: How has John Paul II exemplified the multifaceted role of bishop both
of Krakow and of Rome?
Archbishop Dolan: He's a good teacher. He taught in universities and he
knows that a teacher influences more sometimes by what he does than by
what he says. So, he has set a good example.
When I returned to Rome as rector of the North American College in 1994,
I went out for a walk early one Sunday morning. All of a sudden I saw
the police on the street corners, stopping the little traffic that there
I saw a motorcade coming, and I asked the policeman who it was. He said,
"Oh, that's the Pope. He goes out to a parish in Rome every Sunday
at least those Sundays when he doesn't have a public Mass at St. Peter's
and he celebrates Mass with the parishioners."
He knows the power of presence. He did that in Krakow
his parish visitations, his being with the people. He exemplifies that.
The multifaceted role of a bishop, it is clear from "Pastores Gregis,"
would be a big part of the "munus": the obligation, the duty, the office
of a bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify. The Pope has taught us
that we need to teach with clarity, conviction and always with
compassion, the timeless truths of Jesus and his Church.
Secondly, he has taught us the importance of governing. We must make
sure that the dioceses are well governed, that there is sound
stewardship in place, that we have trusted collaborators who can assist
us in the charism of administration because the people look to us for
prudent and stable leadership.
The third duty that the Pope has stressed is sanctification. People need
to see us celebrating the sacraments
all of them.
The Holy Father mentions in "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way" how every year
he would make sure that he celebrated all seven sacraments publicly.
Well, we bishops usually are great at celebrating the Eucharist, at
celebrating confirmation and in celebrating the sacrament of holy
But we need to celebrate all seven. Our people need to see us baptizing,
anointing the sick, witnessing marriages, hearing confessions.
Celebrating all seven sacraments is part of our "munus" of
sanctification. So, that triple "munus"
that multifaceted role of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify
see in the example of Pope John Paul II both in Krakow and in Rome.
Examination of Conscience for Bishops
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, 7 DEC. 2004 (ZENIT)
Archbishop Timothy Dolan has
found that John Paul II's recent writings on the role of bishops can
serve as an examination of conscience for those entrusted with
shepherding Christ's flock.
Archbishop Dolan shared with ZENIT how the Pope's book, "Rise, Let Us Be
on Our Way" (Warner Books) and postsynodal exhortation "Pastores Gregis"
have helped him evaluate how he is leading his own flock and challenged
him to imitate John Paul II's example as a bishop.
Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday.
Q: What most surprised you about the Holy Father's personal stories in
Archbishop Dolan: Two things were remarkable to me.
First, the profound impact of Poland on him came home so vividly
not that I needed convincing. It has been said that Poland is a country
where Catholicism is in the stones. The culture, society, history, art
and literature are all steeped in the richness of Catholicism.
This is in every cell of Karol Jozef Wojtyla's body. He exudes that
beautifully rich, devout, incarnational brand of Polish Catholicism that
has captivated the world through him. So the first thing that stood out
was how profoundly this man is a son of Poland and how deeply he loves
his country and its culture.
The second thing that jumped out at me after reading the book was how
comfortable he is with the laity
how many lay friends that he has, especially families and young people.
He speaks very often about his priest friends, but what comes out
particularly are the friends who have nurtured his life who are among
He loved his camping trips with young people, his conversations with
students, the company of married couples and their families. He is very
much at home with them all.
Again by his example, he embodies and promotes the teaching of the
Second Vatican Council that a major duty of a priest
and, therefore, of a bishop
is to serve lay people, to know them and love them, so that they are
able to carry out their role of evangelization in the world.
Q: What thoughts of the Pope's on modern matters seemed most significant
Archbishop Dolan: Again, I would say his thoughts on the role of the
laity. But also, his feelings on the horror of war, his worry about the
decline of the practice of the faith in Europe; his powerful meditations
on the Holy Land; his views on the necessity of collegiality and
collaboration in the Church; his thoughts on Africa and Latin America.
Those are areas of profound insights that he had on challenging issues
in the modern world that really attracted my attention.
Q: What can you take from John Paul II's experience as bishop to inform
your own service to the Church?
Archbishop Dolan: A number of things. First of all, that I have to be a
man on fire with love for Jesus Christ. I have to be a man at peace with
myself and with my mission and vocation as a bishop; a man who has some
very practical pastoral goals in mind that never leave my attention; a
man who is not afraid, who firmly believes that Jesus is in charge of my
life and that his grace is sufficient.
I need not be afraid about "casting out to the deep" and calling my
people to sanctity, to heroic virtue and to perfection. The Holy Father
tells us that this is what he did in Krakow; that it is what he has done
as bishop of Rome and bishop of the Church universal. I, too, need to
learn about that.
Secondly, his experience as a bishop teaches me that I must be very
close to my priests. John Paul II loves his priests. He loved his
priests when he was archbishop of Krakow, he loves his priests now as
successor of St. Peter.
I need to do a better job of reaching out to my priests, of listening to
them, of being with them, of praying with them, of encouraging them, and
yes, of challenging them and correcting them when that is necessary.
A very beautiful model of a bishop that I think John Paul II exemplifies
is that a bishop should be to his priests what a pastor is to his
We should be a priest for priests
we should be a pastor of priests. That is the second lesson that I took
from both the Holy Father's book, from his exhortation "Pastores Gregis"
and from his model.
Thirdly, I learned again the importance of the Eucharist, an insight
appropriate during this Year of the Eucharist.
The most important part of the Pope's day is his celebration of the
Eucharist. Everything flows from that, and he returns to be with our
Lord really and truly present in the Eucharist throughout the day. The
Eucharist is the heart of the day, not just part of the day, as an old
For me to be with my priests and people with the Eucharist, and for me
personally to be in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, that says it
And, finally, I think that these documents
both his masterful personal reflections and the postsynodal exhortation
serve as a real examination of conscience for me.
I have to admit that when I see all that he has accomplished and all the
duties that "Pastores Gregis" puts upon the shoulders of bishops, I feel
a certain amount of frustration, trepidation and, yes, anxiety. When I
read it, I think, "My Lord, who am I to live up to all of this?"
But we never give up trying. We keep this as a noble goal. We keep it
before us always and we examine ourselves to see if we are indeed a good
shepherd for God's people.
We are never going to be able to do it all. We are never going to be
able to follow the example of Jesus completely. We are never even going
to be able to follow the example of the Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul
II, completely. But we must never give up trying.
We are constantly refining and renewing our approach to being a
successor of the apostles. The Pope gives us so much; that's good,
because he is calling forth what is best in us. There is no wavering, no
dilution here. He is holding up the ideal and he is calling us to it.
This examination of conscience is something that we all need. As our
Holy Father often says, "Love for Jesus and his Church must be the
passion of your lives." ZE04120723