Archbishop Dolan advises Catholics to put faith in Jesus not clergy

Archbishop Dolan of New York has posted a blog on his website, The Gospel on a Digital Age, in which he advises Catholics to put their faith in  Jesus Christ and not in the Hierarchy:

‘Our faith is not in popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, or even in monsignors.  Nope:  our faith is only in Jesus.  He and He alone will never let us down; He will never sin; He and He alone will never break a promise; He and He alone deserves our absolute trust and confidence.’

The inspiration of Archbishop Dolan’s comments appears to be the new TV mini-series on the Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons, and the recent cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

‘Let’s see now:  we’ve got a Sunday night series on one of the most corrupt and tawdry families in Church history, the Borgias, with popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests, all part of this big, happy family; we’ve heard non-stop for a decade about abusive priests, (albeit a small minority) and lax bishops who reassigned them; we’ve got front page stories of priests who embezzled money from their parishes; and I saw one not long ago about a priest arrested for DUI. Yes, all this is scandalous, sinful, sickening, and criminal.
But, it is not new. Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, nuns, brothers are human.
That means, we are sinners.

Granted, when one of us falls, it hurts and shocks more.  People rightly expect their spiritual leaders to practice what we preach.  When we don’t, we’re hypocrites.  And we know what Jesus thought about hypocrites.

‘What’s the point? That we should tolerate and overlook the sins and vices of the clergy? Absolutely not! Or, worse, that we priests and bishops should stop seeking the heroic virtue, holiness, and perfection called for by Jesus? Never!

The point is that, if the life, vigor, holiness, and efficacy of the Church depended only upon the virtue of priests and bishops, it would have been dead-on-arrival, not surviving that afternoon when the sun hid in shame and the earth shuddered in sadness.’

Then Archbishop Dolan gives his personal experience of encountering victims of sexual abuse by clergy and their families:

‘That’s why it’s especially tragic when someone leaves Jesus and His Church because of a sin, scandal, or slight from a priest or bishop. If your faith depended on us, it was misplaced to begin with. We priests and bishops might represent Jesus and shepherd His Church, however awkwardly — but we are not Jesus and His Church.

One of the more moving, sad, yet, usually “sacramental” duties I have as a bishop is to meet at times with victim survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, and on occasion their families. Some of them tell me they have left the Church, they hate the Church, they have lost their faith. Most of them, though, tell me that, as shattered, sickened, and angry as they may be, nobody, nowhere, nohow is going to take their faith away! These are an inspiration to me.

The wife of one victim once graciously said to me, “Archbishop, you have helped me regain my faith in the Church! I am putting my trust in you!”

I replied, “I’m flattered and grateful, but, please, don’t put absolute confidence in me. I’ll work everyday to earn and keep your trust, and pray daily I’ll never, ever let you down, but, believe me, sooner-or-later, sadly, I’m afraid I will let you down and disappoint you. Please, put your total faith and trust only in Jesus! Anything else is idolatry!”

‘Frank Sheed, that great Catholic lay theologian of last century [said] “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; we do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope, a bishop, a priest could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church (although I might well wish that they would).”

Archbishop Dolan concludes:

Pray for us bishops and priests, please. We’re sorry when we hurt you. We must try harder to conform our lives to Jesus. But don’t ever let our sins drive you away.

Protect the Pope comment: Archbishop Dolan hits the nail on the head when he advises Catholics to put their faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and not in sinful, fallible, grouchy, human beings. Our faith should never depend on our attitude towards a parish priest, bishop, even a pope. If our faith is based on anything other than Jesus Christ, then our house of faith is built on sand.

This doesn’t mean we should stop admiring and respecting Pope Benedict, or Pope John Paul the Great or our parish priest, because they represent Christ the Head of the Church and have received Christ’s power to teach, sanctify and rule, but our relationship with Jesus through prayer, sacraments and acts of charity should be the stronger focus of our lives.

When I get disheartened or angry about something that’s happened in the Church, I always remember that Jesus is my rock, my refuge, not Archbishop or Cardinal so and so. This is how I can remain hopeful and active in a Church riven with dissent, ego, power-games and cowardice. Also the example of a few good, and holy Catholics helps.

7 comments to Archbishop Dolan advises Catholics to put faith in Jesus not clergy

  • Juliana

    This is the biggest scam I have ever read ever before. Jesus has made me MANY promises like when I asked for atheists to be burned or die in a horrible accident, but no, Jesus could not keep his promise which he himself told me while I had an epiphany in confessions. Jesus has failed me many times, he promised me hapyness and promised me wealthy life and he promised me AIDS would be cured. But he does not keep any of these promises.

    • Deacon Nick

      Juliana, I don’t know what ‘Jesus’ you’ve been praying too, but I don’t know of Jesus promising a wealthy life, or happiness in the ordinary sense of the word, or the eradication of a entire disease. Also, no genuine Christian would pray for atheists to be burned or die in horrible accidents. You’re not being honest or sincere are you in this post. By the way, I don’t post comments that contain vile attacks or accusations against Pope Benedict or the Catholic Church. I’ll publish reasoned criticism but not the type of bigotry you usually send to Protect the Pope.

    • louella

      LOL Juliana….your ignorance about Jesus Christ and Christianity is astounding. You must have been a victim of our secular education system. Is that why your ignorance is so astounding or is it something else?!

  • Tim

    I know a few atheists who are trying to cure AIDS. Let’s hope they suceed *before* they die in a horrible accident.

  • Toby


    God gave us one of the best cures for AIDS: free will and thus the ability to practise abstinence where appropriate. As for wealth; look at his creation, what more could you want. Burning atheists or causing horrible accidents – perhaps try an intercession that doesn’t break the New Commandment he gave us. Happiness – well maybe that one he just didn’t understand your spelling – joking aside, he offers us something much greater than our transient notions of happiness, he offers us eternal salvation.

  • Bob Jansen

    Juliana, We offer a prayer that the Holy Spirit blesses you with the truth of Christ’s message of love,hope and mercy.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>