CHARLOTTE — Cardinal Timothy Dolan wants to know Pope Francis' secrets.
It seems like the more Pope Francis tries just to be himself, the more he gains in popularity, the New York cardinal told the Catholic News Herald during a press conference at the 11th annual Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte.
"Pope Francis is who he is. There's a remarkable simplicity and sincerity that connects to people. And I try to figure out what he's doing because I want to copy it. Darn it, if something's working you want to do it.
"The more he tries to de-emphasize the trappings of the papal audience, the more he becomes the center of attention. I figure he must be kind of frustrated because he's trying to be with the people and trying to be nobody special. Well, he's the most elevated person in the world today to whom people listen.
"His own lack of an overt 'marketing strategy' is winsome. He is who he is. We like him. He speaks from the heart."
Cardinal Dolan said he recently ordained 12 men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New York, the largest group in decades, and that was a direct result of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States in 2008.
"The visit of a Holy Father can be a big one. We're already seeing his effect. I can't walk down the streets of New York without someone saying, from the street person to the parking attendant to the guy who wraps my pizza, that says, 'Boy, boy, we love this pope,'" Cardinal Dolan said.
Cardinal Dolan recently blogged about the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the United States, and he wrote, "We learn many virtues in our family. We learn to love....Let's hope his visit will help restore the vitality and the cohesion of the family life."
Cardinal Dolan stressed that marriage and family is the main reason that Pope Francis is visiting our country, and that the agenda for his visit has already been set.
"The script is written," Cardinal Dolan said. "We know what Pope Francis is going to say -- he's going to say the Gospel. He's going to talk about God our Father, he's going to talk about Jesus, he's going talk about love and mercy and joy and faith. He's going to talk about what the world needs, and our love and service to what the world needs."
Cardinal Dolan said Eucharistic Congresses in the South, such as the 11th annual Congress in Charlotte Sept. 11-12, put the Northeast to shame. If the same percentage of the 2.8 million Catholics in his New York archdiocese attended an event like this, there would be more than a quarter of million people at the event, he said.
"I could make it full-time work to go these Eucharistic Congresses. I find them particularly effective. These are great events," Cardinal Dolan said.
"This is phenomenal when you think about it. What we have to do is exercise our faith muscle. Faith is not passive. It's not something we take for granted. I like Bishop (Peter) Jugis' word when he says (to) speak about an 'intentional Catholicism.' If we're not intentional about it, enthusiastic about, sincere about it, we're going to shrivel up. And these Congresses give us a chance to publicly express our faith. They give us a beautiful sense of solidarity, that we're not in this ourselves."
— Kimberly Bender, online reporter. Photo by SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald