By JOHN WOODS
When the Archdiocese of New York celebrated its bicentennial in 2008, Cardinal Dolan was a yr late for the event, as he was not appointed Archbishop of New York till the next yr when he succeeded Cardinal Edward Egan.
Over the weekend, the cardinal helped the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., have a good time its personal bicentennial. The July 11 anniversary Mass and the reception at which he spoke had been pushed again precisely a yr because of Covid-19 disaster.
The cardinal’s “homework” project, he advised these gathered at The Mills Home, was to talk about Bishop John England, Charleston’s founding bishop. The cardinal admitted to being fascinated by Bishop England since his graduate college days at The Catholic College of America in Washington, D.C., the place he earned a doctorate in American Church historical past.
His mentor there, Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, had noticed, “If we had a Mount Rushmore of American bishops, John England of Charleston will surely be on it.”
Excessive reward, certainly, and properly deserved, starting with Bishop England’s early days as a seminarian and priest within the Diocese of Cork, when he promoted “Irish freedom from the ugly penal legal guidelines which choked and tried, unsuccessfully, to suffocate the Catholic religion on the Emerald Isle.” Father England would declare that, in his protection of non secular freedom for Catholics, he was “vindicating the political rights of my countrymen by aiding the freedom of conscience.”
Time assuredly handed at a slower tempo within the early nineteenth century, or at the least adjustments took longer to enact. Contemplate that Bishop England’s letter of appointment to Charleston was dated July 11, 1820. His set up came about on the cathedral in Cork on September 21 that yr, and his arrival in Charleston didn’t happen till Dec. 30, after the Atlantic crossing.
The brand new bishop had cost of Catholics in three states—South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Catholics had been bunched in small teams. (By 1832, a dozen years after his arrival, the variety of Catholics within the Diocese of Charleston was a meager 11,000, in keeping with the bishop’s personal estimate.)
Bishop England instantly set about speaking with and visiting his extensively dispersed flock. A day after his arrival, the cardinal mentioned, the bishop issued a pastoral letter and launched into his first visitation of his new diocese.
“No bishop may very well be extra common and fixed in these visitations, as he went wherever he heard there was a Catholic,” Cardinal Dolan mentioned.
Bishop England cherished america, and but acknowledged “that his beloved new nation was viciously hostile to his religion, however he was satisfied that, as soon as People realized the reality of Catholicism, they might…acknowledge its values as pleasant to America.”
“Bishop England met head on the problem each dedicated Catholic confronts—lodging,” mentioned Cardinal Dolan. “How are we as Catholics to carry tenaciously to the substance of our timeless religion, whereas accommodating to the calls for of a tradition lower than understanding and pleasant?”
Bishop England was not meek and pious, within the method of lots of the French bishops who had come to serve in America, nor was he confrontational in attacking all the hazards of American society and huddling defensively together with his tiny flock, the cardinal mentioned.
The brand new bishop cast one other path, boldly proclaiming, “Wait a minute, fellow residents! We’re allies! We cherish this nice land! We wish to flourish right here! Don’t prejudge us! If you get to know us, you’ll take a look at us as companions on this grand and noble experiment of ordered democracy, not as enemies!”
The cardinal outlined the methods Bishop England cast forward in his new tasks.
He was pleasant, approachable, a splendid author and on the spot almost in every single place. This method received him associates and plaudits from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
He promulgated a Structure of the Diocese of Charleston, “giving correct duty to the lay devoted, whereas defending the required authority of bishops.” It got here down towards the excesses of trusteeism by the laity, as a substitute inviting trustees “to kind commissions with the pastor and even the bishop to supervise church funds and properties,” the cardinal mentioned.
Bishop England additionally established the primary common Catholic newspaper in america, the U.S. Catholic Miscellany, in 1822, which he “used to show and defend the religion, to answer anti-Catholic barbs and to defend Irish emancipation,” an essential matter on condition that Irish immigrants had been turning into nearly all of his flock.
He additionally turned the primary bishop ever to deal with the U.S. Congress on Jan. 8, 1826, after insisting on the discussion board to deal with the “ugly, anti-Catholic views” of President John Quincy Adams. In his three-hour oration, Bishop England “successfully displayed his central theme that, not solely ought to the Catholic Church be tolerated in America, it ought to be welcomed and appreciated,” the cardinal mentioned.
Cardinal Dolan continued, “Bishop John England believed that the Catholic religion in america ought to be seen, not hidden; public, not non-public; daring, not embarrassed or shy; prepared to elucidate, argue and display that it was not solely an unthreatening new child on the block, however a superb neighbor.”
The method was “recent and daring,” not solely to non-Catholics “who had been antagonistic by nature to the Church, however even to Catholics,” the cardinal mentioned.
Bishop England was a missionary to America. He was satisfied that American tradition was “fertile soil for the seed of the Catholic religion,” but additionally real looking sufficient to know that our tradition had deep flaws that couldn’t be glossed over.
Cardinal Dolan, as it’s possible you’ll know, is now serving as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Non secular Liberty. He has given main addresses on the subject in latest weeks, this one being amongst them.
We’ve got been lucky to have the cardinal right here in New York for 12 years. We must also be very proud and supportive of the work he does past our archdiocesan borders to advance understanding of the Church and its essential position in our society at massive.