Cardinal Dolan on Pope Francis: 'We've got a winner'

March 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM ET

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was brimming with optimism as he walked out of the Vatican mass to inaugurate Pope Francis.

“I think we all got reason to be hopeful,’’ Dolan told Matt Lauer and Maria Shriver on TODAY Tuesday. “My hope is on steroids after that magnificent mass and hearing him preach.

“Catholics, indeed the whole world, they want the church to work. They want this pope to be successful. He’ll ride on that crest, and I think we’ve got a winner.”

A much-discussed topic in the infancy of Pope Francis’s tenure has been the role of women in the church. Dolan, who is the Archbishop of New York, said he believes women's roles in the church will expand.

“He spoke of tender love,’’ Dolan said. “Then he said this tender love has got to go to creation, to God’s creatures and especially to those who are most fragile, especially those to those who are poor and struggling and who feel alienated.

“Women are pros when it comes to tender love. Will they have a more accented role in his papacy? I wouldn’t doubt it.’’

Story: Breaking the stained-glass ceiling: Catholic women hope for change

As he settles into his new position, Pope Francis also will have to deal with the “Vatileaks’’ scandal involving internal documents that detail alleged corruption and blackmail inside the Vatican. It remains to be seen whether he will address the issue internally or speak publicly about the scandal.

“I think it would be good (to speak publicly),’’ Dolan said. “There’s nobody that would’ve sat through the congregations that we cardinals had before the conclave without knowing that the college of cardinals unanimously wants an honesty, a candor, a sincerity, (and) a sense of transparency. He heard that, and I think he’s going to do it.’’

After hearing the new pope’s message of protection for the weak and the poor as well as the environment, it’s up to Dolan and his fellow cardinals to transmit that to the Catholics in their respective regions across the world.

“He’s used these days since his election as a great classroom,’’ Dolan said. “ I think all of us today, the cardinals that are leaving, are just regenerated. It’s been like a retreat, so we go home filled with hope, filled with zeal, filled with inspiration.

“I’m detecting a simplicity, a sincerity, a willingness to just speak about the raw, simple truths of the gospel. Did you hear him today? There wasn’t anything cerebral about it. He could’ve given that homily to fourth-graders, but yet it was so moving and so beautiful.’’

That simplicity is a defining characteristic of Francis' humility, according to Dolan.

In the moments after the mass, “he kind of looked at himself and shrugged and said, ‘Now what have I got myself into?’’’ Dolan joked. “In other words what he’s saying is, ‘Here’s what I am. I can’t be anyone else and be with me.’’’


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