Meet the Press   |  December 01, 2013

Cardinal Dolan: 'I thank God' for Pope Francis' influence on Catholic Church

The Archbishop of New York visits Meet the Press for a one-on-one with David Gregory on the profound effect Pope Francis has had so far on the public's perception of the Catholic Church.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back on a sunday morning now to pope francis and his drive for change in the catholic church . this is the latest example called the joy of the gospel. in his first major policy gospel released this week, the pope slams economic inequality and calls on the rich to share their wealth. he's becoming the first non-european pontiff this last march, he has broken many deals of his predecessors, but what does the pope think about controversial issues such as obama care, gay marriage and abortion? before the pope's manifesto, i spoke one on one with one of the most influential triggers of the united states , cardinal timothy dolan , archbishop of new york .

>> welcome to "meet the press."

>> thank you, david . happy thanksgiving. you bet.

>> i want to talk about some faith, some politics, but let's start with the church. what a remarkable year it's been with pope francis and the pope francis effect. his humanity has touched people the world over, not just catholics , and has made him an internet sensation, among other things. how do you describe this francis effect on the church, and as i say, on humanity more broadly?

>> all i know, david , i thank god for it, that's for sure, and i see it every day. i can't walk down the streets of new york , which i do a lot, without people stopping me and saying, cardinal, i'm not even a catholic, i'm not even a believer, but i love pope francis and thanks a lot for voting for him. because they love him. you put the finger on it when you spoke about his humanity. his sincerity, his complicity, his generosity, his hilarity. i think jesus is coming to us as catholics and humanity of the world through pope francis .

>> the church doctrine remains the same, but you have described it as a change of tone.

>> i would say a change of tone, a change of strategy. a pope by his nature cannot make doctrinal changes. he can make a lot of changes in the way, the style, the manner in which it's presented. you know the best analogy of that? john xxiii . by the way, they're saying pope francis reminds them of john xxiii . he was pope in 1953 . but he can do it in a way that makes it more radiant.

>> could it get confusing if you do that?

>> it could, but one of the appeals of francis is we have to take some risks. if we're just timid and afraid and afraid to go out and engage people and meet people and take some chances in presenting the faith, we're going to shrivel up and die.

>> but he said we can't worry about birth control and abortion, that we worry too much about those issues. is that a problem for you, that he believes that?

>> that he would say that?

>> no, not at all. i gave him a standing ovation when he said that. most of the time i say, i don't know that it's so much the church obsessed with that, it's the world obsessed with those things. they're always asking us about it. i look at myself, david , in my almost 37 years as a priest. rare would be the times that i preached about those issues. so francis is right. he's saying first things first. first let's talk about god, about his mercy, about his love, about his forgiveness, about his invitation, about his embrace, about his promise for life eternal through his son jesus. you talk about that and then morals, doctrine, that will fall into place.

>> but some of the moral debates, this is where there are debates, this is where there is tension.

>> sure.

>> what is the natural evolution of a change in tone, a change in the packaging of this pope to actual change in church policy on some of these matters?

>> yeah, i don't know if that's too new, though. i would say since the time of jesus christ , there has always been tension, difficulty, conflict in the application of the teaching. i mean, i look at my jewish neighbors. they have the torah. there's the law, pretty clear. the application is always going to bring some debate in conversation. we christians, we catholics have the sermon on the mount . the application, that's where the rubber hits the road. that's where there will always be conversation and a little bit of disagreement.