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TODAY   |  September 20, 2013

Dolan: ‘I think the Pope is on to something’

New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan shares his perspective on Pope Francis’ recent comments about not focusing on divisive issues like abortion and gay rights, saying the Pope is getting back “to the doctrine.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> new york's timothy cardinal dolan is the president of the u.s. conference of catholic bishops . good to see you.

>> good to be with you.

>> we have met before on the occasion of the pope making headlines. he's not changing church doctrine but this seems like a radical change in emphasis. do you agree?

>> i agree. radical is a good word. that comes from the latin word of root. he is going back to the gospel. simplicity, a surprise, invitation, mercy and embrace. this man -- yesterday was the 6th anniversary you and i were together march 19th as he began his ministry. 6 month anniversary yesterday, this guy batting 1000 .

>> we have seen him on the ride back from brazil when he said who am i to judge homosexuals. i think he took it a step forward. in a way launching criticism of the church saying the church was obsessed with the social issues? is it a fair critique?

>> we better listen to him. he is asking for a stress strategy. sometimes as we come across as negative, as complaining too much we lose the folks. we have to be positive and fresh and affirming. if we emphasize the essentials all the other principles will flow from it. he's on to something. he's a good teacher.

>> for some people these words are comforting and welcoming. for others who care deeply about these social issues and i think you count yourself among them, is there anything alarming or upsetting or confusing about it?

>> i hope not and what i welcome is that this man, pope francis, has given the church such a front burner position in the life of the world that we now, we bishops, we priests, we have the opportunity now to help him clarify and present the fresh and vigorous way the teaching of the church . because all of a sudden everybody is interested. i'm getting invited to the today show. when i go to a restaurant people are asking me about pope francis and the teachings of the church . this is an amazingly effective teachable opportunity due to him.

>> do you view it as a course correction?

>> we always need correctives. i think so. every pope gives us a correction. every pope gives us a correction. this one is doing it very effectively and i'm glad he is.

>> does it change anything you do. you're the head of the u.s. conference of catholic bishops . you have been involved in fighting obamacare's policy on contraceptives. does that change what you do or where you spend your time or your emphasis.

>> yes. it does. i wouldn't exactly use those issue as you observed but did you hear what he said to bishops the other day, he said don't be in an airplane looking down at your people and the poor, get down there with them. now that is good for me to hear. that's an examination of conscious. i have to say to myself, are you with your people? are you stuck in the office all the time? are you driving by in a car? you're supposed to be with them like he is. those are prophetic corrections that i need to hear. he's calling me to conversion of heart like jesus did.

>> i'm out of time.

>> i'm out of breath.

>> has he surprised you? has this pope surprised you?

>> i'm surprised that i'm not surprised. this is what we wanted. remember i told you savannah, you were there and march 19th i'm sitting next to one of the great intellects of the church and when the pope is speaking me turns to me with tears in his eyes and he said this guy speaks like jesus and i said i think that's the job description. he's doing it.

>> it's always good to have