Timothy Dolan has been an up-and-comer in the Vatican’s eyes for years — picked to run Milwaukee in the wake of a massive sex scandal and then elevated to the most visible American diocese as New York’s archbishop. Today, his quick rise continued when he jumped the line and beat the favorite to be elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that Dolan won the slot as he is in the midst of closing so many city churches and schools. What Dolan does best, it seems, is deliver politically devastating news with a boyish, hail-goodfellow grin. “Dolan is part of this hope that a return to orthodoxy — the fighting seminarian with the crew cut and the fifties values — will be what’s going to change things for the church,” one observer told New York last year in a profile of the archbishop. Dolan showed (in an explanation of why gays should remain chaste for their lifetimes because they aren’t allowed to marry) that he’s well practiced at the fine art of parsing. “There’s no option,” he said. “But I don’t know if that’s unfairness.”
Related: The Archbishop of Charm [NYM]
[Ed: This post was updated from a previous version.]