Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has to meet many a prospective donor. These are the sorts of people Cardinal Dolan will need. Although he has raised $45 million for the impending renovation of the cathedral from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the cathedral trustees and individual donors, he’s still $132 million short of the total needed.
That means that he will have to depend on non-Catholics, on people who do not share his conservative social views, on parishioners whose own churches have been closed or are jeopardized, and on philanthropists who will have to be persuaded to put bricks and mortar ahead of human needs.
He was asked to contrast the restoration of the great cathedral in mid-Manhattan with the archdiocesan policy of closing neighborhood churches — no matter how beloved or beautiful — whose membership has fallen significantly. These have include St. Thomas the Apostle in West Harlem, and Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem.
If we have a church that demographically is now — the people are gone — we have to make a decision. Are we going to utilize our money serving souls and serving people, and expanding the church in areas where the growth is? Or are we going to maintain buildings for — however laudably it might be — artistic and cultural and historic purposes? Sometimes we do. But most of the times we say: ‘Sorry, we’re not in the business of solely museums. We’re a living, dynamic, growing, expanding church and we have to keep up with it.’ So the case can be made that St. Patrick’s is, indeed, living, dynamic and growing. It’s jammed. Every day it’s jammed.
In reaching out to a broader community for support, Cardinal Dolan will be appealing to many who disagree with the church on issues.
Editted for Harlem World Magazine