New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan – Much Power But Little Glory

“Could Cardinal Dolan Become Pope?”

The question jumped out at me from the CBS News website and made me chuckle for several reasons.

First of all, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan will not even get his red hat until February 18.  Yet here they are speculating that the guy might become Pope.

And then there’s the prospect of an Irish American pope in Rome.  That made me chuckle even more mightily.

Still, it was quite a week for Irish American power. First, there were reports that First Lady Michelle Obama once griped about the power wielded by just three Irish Catholic clans in Chicago — the Daley, Madigan and Hynes families.

Then there was the elevation of Dolan, as well as Bronx native and fellow Irish American Edwin O’Brien, to cardinal.

That means for over 170 years now an Irish American has ruled the biggest, most visible diocese in North America.  And all but one, in that time, has made it to Rome as a cardinal.

This got me thinking about what Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in his book Beyond the Melting Pot back in the 1960s.

“The Irish didn’t know what to do with power once they got it. …[T]he very parochialism and bureaucracy that enabled them to succeed in local politics prevented them from doing much else.

“In all these 60 or 70 years in which they could have done almost anything they wanted in politics, they did very little. Of all those candidates and all those campaigns, what remains?”

What remains, of course, is power. Still.  To this day.  In 2012. [More]