Meet the Press   |  March 09, 2014

MTP Exclusive: Cardinal Timothy Dolan

In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan talks about Pope Francis' evolving priorities and vision on gay marriage.

Share This:

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

>> year it's been for the catholic church and pope francis. what a reception one year later. pope francis giving an interview this week saying look, it's been a great reception but i'm not superman. he almostt= found it offensive. yet at the same time, that reception is something he would like to use for the benefit of the church, wouldn't? wmu >> he >> he's a good teacher. he knows the power of symbol. he knows the power of audio visual aids as any good teacher does. i think he's saying look, i'm no better than anybody else but if this attention is coming my way, i'm going to use it and turn the attention to jesus and his church . i think he's doing a splendid job of it.

>> it's not just the faithful but the pope as a political influence around the world and in america. i'm curious to know what the agenda is for him now that he's had his first year, where he would like to dig in and have influence. there has been some criticism coming his way where he might say things that stir the masses worldwide begging questions about what he means and then there's a clarification.

>> uh-huh.

>> is there a plan of action to that? would he like to get some of these diabetics particular will i over social matters started?

>> i think he would. once again, that might be part of his shrewd strategy. if if he leaves people wondering and guessing, a good teacher does that, too. we've all had good teachers that almost tease us. i wonder what he meant. i hope he clarifies, gets us asking questions and probing.

>> but conservatives in america, some of the headlines, conservative u.s. catholics feel left out by the pope's embrace. increasingly fret over the pope's style. one commentator i read say the pope is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful. the issue of gay rights around the world , he opened the door to the idea of accepting civil unions . is that something you can see the church supporting? ing

>> i for one, i haven't sensed that too much bristling among the conservatives. they honestly will say his style is a little different and might periodically cause us a little angst, but in general they too seem to be rejoicing in what you might call the evangelical fervor, the good interest in the life of the church . i haven't sensed a lot of massive discontent among the conservative catholics . he as you know, pope pran sis, has tried his best not to let there be a cleavage between him and pope benedict because there might be the tendency in some top character ca tour each of them and almost set up a bit of an anti-thesis. he keeps saying how much he loves pope benedict . he quotes from him. he's a shrewd man. you know what his name is, upontive, that's what we call our pope which is the latin world for bridge builder . he's a pontiff par excellence, a bridge builder .

>> there there be a point at which there would be an expectation of action, not just debate but to say he seems to be setting a course for the church that makes the church open to certain changes.

>> uh-huh.

>> maybe not done electrical changes but certain changes, be inclusion of women in the hierarchy of the church , changes with regard to the view of divorce and taking communion and even gay rights .

>> uh-huh. there are some who have said that. you are right there are some even his admires who have said holy father, be careful. there seems to be a huge sense of expectation among catholics. we're a little worried their hopes might be dashed. i think we've got a pope that does not think in terms of winning or losing. i think we've got a pope who says i want to ask the right questions. i want to point people to the right place where they can get the answers, namely not me but the church 's teaching, our tradition, the bible, what god has told us. let me ask the questions, let me get the interest going. and then let's try to revive god's people to passionately reclaim the truth that god has revealed. i think this is his pastoral strategy.

>> do you imagine the church might open the way to accepting civil unions ?

>> he mentioned -- i'm as eager as you are to read the full extent of that the interview. if i saw the reports accurately, he didn't come right out and say he was for them. once again in an extraordinarily sincere open nuanced way, he said i know that some people in some states have chosen this. we need to think about that and look into it and see the reasons that have driven them. it wasn't as if he came out and approved them. but he just in the sensitivity that has won the heart of the world, he said rather than quickly condemn them, let's see if -- let's just ask the questions as to why that is appealing to certain people.

>> would that make you uncomfortable?

>> the civil unions ?

>> yeah.

>> it would in a way, david, because i don't think marriage between one man and one woman forever leading to life and love, what's not something that's just a religious jack mental concern. you bet it is that and we -- that's how god has elevated it to making a camerament but it's also the building block of society and culture so it belongs to culture. if we water down that sacred meaning of marriage in any way, i worry that not only the church would suffer, i worry that culture and society would.

>> the issue of sexual abuse within the church is still a big issue. the pope this week said the lath catholic church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. the church is the only one to have been attacked.

>> a lot of people sense that was defensive because it was also the church that was responsible for covering up this sin, for hiding priests, for faying to report, for introducing priests with a past pedphilia into parishes around this country among others. was that overly defensive? does the church have to do more?

>> oh, the church will always have to do more as humanity has to do more. we're part of humanity. i was cheering the pope on when he said that. you'll find, david, i'm with people a lot. catholic people, there are three things that really tick them off about the sex abuse crisis. first of all that a priest who would dare claim to be an agent of god would act in such a hideous manner. number two, the bishops would have not reacted with the rigor and the scrupulous action that was necessary. there's the second. but thirdly, catholic people say but why is it the church alone that is being kicked around? this is a societal problem, a cultural problem. it afflicts families, every institution, every religion. we're rather grateful that our church , which was an example of what not to do in the past in the last 12, 13, 14 years has become an example of what to do and why does the church keep being picked on? i was glad the pope said that. i think he's right on target.

>> in the '50s and '60s child abuse claims were being investigate and prosecuted when at the same time this was happening in the catholic church was hiding it. the power of symbol here is to meet with victims. the pope has not done that. should he do that?

>> he probably will. i would not be surprised if he would not. i hope he does. lord knows i have and most bishops and pastors have. benedict did. i would anticipate he would cell.