18-September-2012 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Fordham University Hosts Cardinal Dolan, Stephen Colbert

3,000 Attend Discussion on Humor and Faith

BRONX, New York, SEPT. 17, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined comedian Stephen Colbert and Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, for a discussion on faith and laughter at Fordham University in New York.

"The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life," was moderated by Father Martin, author of Between Heaven and Mirth. The multimedia discussion, which included taking questions via Twitter, touched on the relationship between humor and faith, framed within Catholicism.

More than 3,000 students and invited guests were present at the event titled "The Cardinal and Colbert" held at the Rose Hill Gymnasium of the prestigious school. "The event was the brainchild of two young Fordham theologians, Michael Peppard and Charles Camosy, who pitched it to me over dinner one night in early January," Fr. Martin said in America, a Catholic weekly magazine.

"Spiritual conversations are a great grace, and an under-appreciated way of drawing people to the faith," he continued. "It was a joy being among the thousands of Fordham students, many of whom had camped out the night before for the tickets. Being among college students is for me always is a spiritual boost; being around so many at once, so obviously touched by the discussion about Catholicism, was a special blessing."

At the event, Cardinal Dolan shared what he called "theological reasons for laughter". When posing the question as to why would a person of faith be happy, the cardinal answered saying the cross of Christ was his source of joy. "See, when Jesus suffered and died on the cross on that hill called Calvary, on that Friday strangely called 'Good,' literally, the 'lights went out' as even the sun hid in shame. Literally, the earth sobbed with convulsions of sorrow as an earthquake occurred," he said. But, then, he explained, came the Resurrection.

Colbert, who is the host, writer and executive producer of the award-winning series "The Colbert Report," gave his experience on humor and faith. According to a New York Times report on the event, Colbert spoke candidly on his life, his career as a comedian, and his faith. "The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the Church gives me, which is love," he said.

There were also moments of laughter and camaraderie between the two guest speakers, who also took questions from the audience. The university has received substantial positive feedback from the attendees.

Sara McDonough, a sophomore communications major at Fordham College Lincoln Center who was one of the 3,000 attendees, said that even though she had never seen Colbert's show before, she wondered whether his reputed humor would be dulled in a conversation about religion.

"I'm definitely religious, but I was still a little nervous when Stephen was talking whether I would be entertained," she admitted. "But I was entertained throughout the whole event. It was really funny -- I loved it." Her friend Natalie DeVaughn, a sophomore international studies major at Lincoln Center, agreed. "I think it's important that people know that religion isn't all about reprimanding and guilt, that it's supposed to give you happiness," she said. "I think this was definitely about happiness."

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