Cardinal Dolan: ‘Where’s the Catholic Sandy Koufax?’

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Archbishop of New York Timothy Michael Dolan speaks about a chair that will be used in Madison Square Garden for Pope Francisí upcoming Papal Mass in New York on September 2, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-DOLAN-KOUFAX, originally transmitted on March 10, 2016.

Archbishop of New York Timothy Michael Dolan speaks about a chair that will be used in Madison Square Garden for Pope Francisí upcoming Papal Mass in New York on September 2, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Lucas Jackson *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-DOLAN-KOUFAX, originally transmitted on March 10, 2016.

NEW YORK (RNS) Catholics are approaching the end of Lent and the start of Holy Week, while college basketball’s “March Madness” tournament begins in a week and baseball’s opening day is in early April.

And the juxtaposition of these seemingly disparate observances is not making Cardinal Timothy Dolan very happy.

Indeed, the archbishop of New York was letting off some steam in a blog post on Thursday (March 10) in which he lamented that Catholics –- and more than a few Catholic organizations –- seem much more interested in “Starbucks and sporting events” than they do in observing the fast days or holy days of this sacred season.

“From what I can detect, instead of fidelity to communal acts of penance, we write in for ‘dispensations’ for the measly eight days of fasting left” on the church’s liturgical calendar, Dolan wrote in a column titled “Have We Lost It?”

“We continue to schedule celebrations, parties, and fundraisers during what should be forty somber days of penance,” he continued. “Our Catholic colleges will compete in ‘March Madness’ even on Good Friday, and coaches in our parishes will complain that CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) games cannot be scheduled on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.”

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Dolan noted that adherents of other religions seem much more observant.

He said that when he was walking in Central Park recently and stopped to buy a bottle of water from a sidewalk vendor he saw that the man, a Muslim, had taken a break to kneel on a prayer rug for his devotions.

In response to complaints from Jewish students, New York’s Baruch College adjusted the start time of its May commencement, Dolan noted, so that it would not run into the start of the Sabbath.

And the cardinal also recalled the famous episode from 1965 when Dodgers pitching ace Sandy Koufax decided not to pitch Game 1 of the World Series because it fell on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur.

“Am I exaggerating when I ask if we Catholics have lost it?” Dolan concluded. “Where’s the Catholic Sandy Koufax?”

(David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS)

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  • Frank

    Well, cardinal, it’s entirely possible that the decline in Catholicism in the US, brought about by the Church’s world wide pedophilia; the fact that people are more educated and less superstitious; and the rejection of the misogyny the church espouses has had its effect.

    Maybe if you and your brethren cared more about the Church’s victims, stopped deifying dead corpses and death, quit indoctrinating people to the utter foolishness of your doctrine and came to the realization your mythical Jewish man-god would disown the wealth, opulence, and deception the Church exemplifies, people wouldn’t be leaving in droves…and ignoring your silly rituals.

    But then..there would be no Catholic church. That would be the best of all outcomes.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Fully 50% of American cradle Catholics have left the Church forever, and among those who still occasionally attend Mass, there’s a reluctance to “donate” to Dolan’s crass political machinations. Evidence of both is in Dolan’s own territory having its third round of parish church closings recently. American Catholics have seen their donations misused to promote anti-gay and anti-abortion political goals for over 40 years. The St. Louis archbishop even attacked the Girl Scouts recently over their inclusive policies, and the response by the public was to make the GSA’s fundraiser the biggest in their history. Dolan may write about “religious observation,” but his real problem is he doesn’t have the tax-exempt funds to throw elections any more.

    And “the Catholic Sandy Koufax” is the president of his or her local PFLAG chapter.

  • Katie

    This from a man who just filmed an episode of Jim Gaffigan’s show DURING LENT???? Come on. Set the example, Cardinal Dolan because until you do, why should the flock?

  • SHG

    We attend Bible Study at our local Protestant church on Wednesday evenings. Three quarters of the attendees are either former cradle Catholic or converts no longer in the church. It is really quite remarkable but not uncommon I dare say. Cardinal Dolan needs to get out more.

  • Mariamusician

    Ritual acts of penance and worship are meaningless without love and compassion towards fellow humans.
    As St. Paul wrote, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
    You know the rest. I would add, “If I pray in public and make a big show of it but do not have love, I am nothing.”
    Christ said, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
    Who said we’re supposed to go around with somber faces all Lent?
    I’m won’t toot my horn here, I do penance, worship and charity my way all year…

  • Catholic wooses! As in other comments, it is not yet clear that Catholic culture needs a new take on what it means to be Catholic in the 21st century. The decline of Catholic culture from the 17th century parish culture, can be a signal for a new direction to inspire new Catholics. I am not sure our bishops are the one to do this.

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  • Susan

    Actually, Sandy Koufax was a non-religious Jew. He did not work on Yom Kippur out of solidarity with other Jews.

  • Sue

    Great post, Frank. Thank you.

  • The Catholic Church made a Saint out of John Paul II, who looked the other way with Marcel Maciel (and most other sexually abusive priests). They buddied up with Republicans in the US and scolded Democratic lawmakers for their representation of their constituents belief. They made abortion their primary cause for 3-4 decades at the expense of other social doctrines. And Cardinal Dolan himself railed against policies designed to help millions of Americans obtain affordable health care because of one minor issue of disagreement with his Church.

    A friend of mine is fond of saying that he didn’t leave the Church, the Church sorta left him.

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  • How about some “communal acts of penance” for the church hierarchy’s tolerance of and cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse and for the Vatican’s unending and unpopular opposition to women’s rights of conscience and religious liberty on contraception and abortion (which, BTW, have helped fuel overpopulation and climate change). — Edd Doerr

  • Margaret

    I am from Milwaukee where Dolan was archbishop before he went to New York.He did nothing here but cover for the pedophile priests and the previous archbishop who spent millions of the people’s money on his former lover. He is doing the same thing in NY. Those poor people. Check out Church Militant.

  • patrick

    Would Koufax have remained true to Judaism and observed Yom Kippur if he knew his Rabbi was sexually abusing his son ?

  • Tom

    There is a cure for this and it’s called Home Churching. Then start inviting other people over and you’ve formed your own Church. Did not our Lord say ?”For where two or three gather in my name, there Am I with them”. Who gave these people the power between us and our Lord?

  • john mccormick


    The Catholic Sandy Koufax is Jerry Sandusky.

  • john mccormick

    Love it

  • john mccormick

    The decline of the Catholic culture is the beginning of the end, as God wants. A filthy rich, organized pedophile crime ring isn’t God’s church, and God just gave “Spotlight” the Oscar so that every teenager will see it for the next 20 years, and the Catholic church will die a justified death.

  • john mccormick

    Dolan himself was a great pedophile protector, of Fr Becker and others, and lied to the New York Times about it. He also put $57 million in a cemetery fund to keep it from victim’s therapy fund.

  • john mccormick


  • Joseph

    If I am correct, isn’t St Patrick’s day during Lent? With the church’s blessing thousands of “catholics” are getting drunk and vomiting all over NYC in honor of a saint, during the holiest season of the christian year. The church itself has stripped its people of its faith, by its own bigotry, arrogance, and disbelief.