Cardinal Dolan confirms he signed leaked letter to Pope Francis: provides more details

'I’d forgotten about it, and I didn’t think it was controversial at all,' said Cardinal Dolan.
Thu Oct 15, 2015 - 8:26 pm EST
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Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Steve Jalsevac /


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October 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has confirmed he was among the group of 13 cardinals to sign a letter to Pope Francis expressing concern over the direction of the Ordinary Synod on the Family.

In an interview with Mary Shovlain, host of ‘The Vatican Report,’ on Sirius XM, Dolan explained that the letter was actually drafted before the Synod began, and not in response to anything that has occurred during the current meeting.

The cardinal also said he didn’t think of the letter as controversial until it surfaced earlier this week. “I’d forgotten about it, and I didn’t think it was controversial at all,” he said.

The confidential letter, reportedly delivered to the pope October 5, was leaked by veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister and subsequently the subject of controversy. Four cardinals on the list of signatories released by Magister denied signing the letter, and a revised list of signers was later published by various media outlets, although that list is also in dispute.

Cardinal Dolan said he agreed to sign on to the letter at the suggestion of Australian Cardinal George Pell amid conversations among various Synod fathers over their concerns.

The New York prelate recounted Cardinal Pell’s words about approaching the pope.

“George said, ‘Why don’t we get together, we love the Holy Father, we trust him,’” Cardinal Dolan said. “He’s urged us to be as honest with him as possible. Why don’t we write him that we’re worried?”

Cardinal Dolan explained in the interview exactly what was troubling the cardinals that led them to sign the letter.

“We’re worried first of all, if the Instrumentum Laboris, which has a lot of good things, but we’re kind of worried if that’s the only document that we’re going to be talking about at the Synod,” he said.

“Number two, we’re a little worried about the process,” Cardinal Dolan continued. “There seems to be some confusion. And thirdly, we’re a little worried about if we could have a say in the people who are going to be on the final drafting committee.”

Dolan said that after discussing the situation Cardinal Pell then asked the other cardinals if this summed up their concerns, to which Cardinal Dolan said he responded, “Sounds good to me, if you have got a letter to the pope, count me in, and sure enough, I signed it.”

The letter wasn’t in English as had been reported, but rather Italian.

The pope addressed the concerns presented in the letter at the Synod the day after the letter had been presented, according to Cardinal Dolan.

“He didn’t refer to the letter,” the cardinal said, “but he said, ‘Hey everybody, I’ve heard from some of you that you’ve got some concerns.’ And then he listed the exact concerns I just mentioned to you.”

“And then he said, let me try to respond to that,” Cardinal Dolan continued. “And I said, ‘Way to go Pope Francis; you told us to be honest, we were, you answered right to the heart. I’m grateful that you paid attention. Let’s get on with the work.’”

This year’s Synod continues through October 25.

  synod on the family, timothy dolan