The Catholic Herald People of the Year 2012

Catholic Herald Person of 2012: Cardinal Dolan 
The jolly, cherubic cardinal with the wide girth was born in 1950 in St
Louis and entered seminary at the age of 14. He freely admits that he “can't ever remember a time when I was not flirting with the priesthood” and that,“on a human level”, he owes his vocation to his parents as well as the nuns from Ireland who taught him at school.
Ordained in 1976, he has led a varied career in the Church, from beingsecretary to a papal nuncio to being rector in the Pontifical North AmericanCollege in Rome. His years spent forming American priests prepared him for achallenging posting as Archbishop of Milwaukee. From 2002 to 2009, he keptthe archdiocese together during the storm that ensued after revelations ofclerical sex abuse, which included 8,000 charges against 100 people. He didnot lose his nerve and encouraged young men in the archdiocese to becomepriests. As a result, the number of seminarians in Milwaukee rose during histime there.
In contrast to some Church leaders, Cardinal Dolan doesn’t suggest the abuse crisis is behind us. In an interview with 60 Minutes, he said clerical abuse“needs to haunt us” and that episcopal cover-ups were “nothing less thanhideous”.He became Archbishop of New York in 2009, becoming the shepherd of 2.6 million souls. In 2010 he was elected president of the United StatesConference of Catholic Bishops and created a cardinal at the consistory on February 2012.  

His meteoric rise in the Church means he is often called ‘America's Pope’. But he simply laughs at the suggestion that he might benext in line for the papacy, often adding: “You must have been talking to my mother!”

Cardinal Dolan possesses a rare charm that enables him to disagree
vigorously with politicians on, say, abortion, while still having civil and
even cheerful conversations with them. At the Alfred Smith dinner in
October, Barack Obama sat nearby as Cardinal Dolan gave a speech urging listeners to care for what he called “the uns: the unemployed, the
uninsured, the unwanted, the unwed mother, and her innocent, fragile unborn baby in her womb, the undocumented, the unhoused, the unhealthy, the unfed and the under-educated”. In 2012, Cardinal Dolan objected firmly to the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate, arguing that it violated the US Constitution's first
amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion. A judge recently ruled that the Archdiocese of New York could continue with a lawsuit challenging the law that would require Catholic institutions to cover the costs of employees’ contraceptives. If the legal challenge is successful then not just Catholics, but the whole nation will owe him a debt of gratitude. 

Detractors label Cardinal Dolan as a ‘conservative’, but often forget that he champions the rights of Hispanic immigrants and praises their role in churches across America. Cardinal Dolan has drawn attention to the fact that Our Lady of Guadalupe is now the most visited shrine in New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. Keen to be able to mix with the Hispanic faithful that are an integral part
of New York parishes, Cardinal Dolan memorises Spanish verbs while he works out on his exercise bike.

Asia Bibi  The 41-year-old Pakistani mother of five has languished in prison for three
and a half years. She lives in deplorable conditions, chained up in a windowless cell, she says, “my tears are my only companion”. Outside her prison walls, millions of people are prepared to kill her. Asia Bibi is the first woman in Pakistan’s history to be sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws. Her specific crime? In her own words, “I will be hung by the neck for having helped my neighbour.” In June 2009, she was working as a farmhand when she was asked to bring a bucket of drinking water to the field where they were picking berries. On returning with the water, she took a drink, but the Muslim workers would not partake of the same water, believing it to be unclean because it was touched by a Christian. Soon after, her fellow farmhands insisted that she had insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Pakistan¹s Penal Code states that anyone who insults Mohammed
should be punished by life imprisonment or death. 

In November 2010, Pope Benedict called for her release. But the mere suggestion that Asia be granted clemency has provoked street riots in Pakistan. Her family have had to go into hiding. In January 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti housed her family, shortly before he was assassinated. Asia does not, of course, deserve the death penalty, but it is looking more likely. Her poor chance of survival does not mean that we can about forget her. She represents the countless persecuted Christians all over the world, who in the face of unrelenting terror and torture, will not renounce their faith.

Gemma Rose Foo was born in Singapore weighing just 580 grams (0.2lbs), 10 weeks premature. She spent the first four months of her life in hospital, with her life hanging in the balance. She was diagnosed with the most severe form of cerebral palsy, which restricts the ability to move all four limbs. In her early years she struggled to sit upright and would fall off the sofa if left unattended. At school she was bullied by other pupils who took advantage of her limited mobility and would steal her belongings or slyly trip her up. But from these bleak beginnings, Gemma exceeded everyone¹s
expectations and become a world-class athlete.

Originally Gemma had taken up riding as a form of therapy to improve her balance and coordination. At 10, she was able to ride independently. In 2011 she won gold in two out of three events at the Mannheim Para-Equestrian Championships held in Germany. Prior to competing in the London Paralympics this summer she took a year off from St Theresa’s Convent School to train and prepare her horse, Avalon. In London she scored 65.05 per cent in her Grade 1a competition and showed
exemplary posture and poise when in individual freestyle competitions. She says that when she faces challenges, she talks to God. “He sometimes talks back to me, and that calms me down,” she has said.
Asked what she thinks of her sporting achievements, the 16-year-old says:  “It’s really surreal.” A regular young woman in many ways, she is known for her bubbly personality and is a Lady Gaga fan and is a fan of The Vampire Diaries.

Many consider James MacMillan to be the pre-eminent classical composer of our age. He was brought up in, “a traditional working-class community in the West of Scotland”. His symphonies, concertos, operas and sacred music are powerfully informed by Catholicism. MacMillan’s immense talent was recognised when he was invited to compose the
congregational Mass for the beatification of Cardinal Newman during the papal visit to Britain in September 2010. Another major work is his St John Passion. In 2011, his third piano concerto, The Mysteries of Light,
premiered in Minnesota. In October this year he represented the world’s artists when he received a copy of the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Message to
Artists’ at the end the Mass opening in the Year of Faith in St Peter’s Basilica.

When asked how he composes, he stresses the need for entering a time of
silence before composing, which he calls “that bedding down period where
ideas can germinate”.  MacMillan has said that, “the Church needs to
rediscover the Catholic paradigm of Gregorian chant”. But he also praises
the way music programmes in Anglican parishes can positively influence
Catholic parishes. Quick to take the part of Catholics who want better music
in parish liturgies, MacMillan gets great pleasure from helping ordinary
Catholics in the pew to sing prayer.
A much sought-after conductor, he has directed orchestras all over the
globe, but remains loyal to his parish in Glasgow.
MacMillan married his childhood sweetheart, has two children and is a Third
Order Dominican. Many commentators are quick to point out that, at 53, he
has achieved a lot for one so young.

Frank Cottrell Boyce is one of the most talented, versatile and successful
screenwriters in the world. He wrote the script for “Isles of Wonder”, the
spectacular opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
The event drew on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, about an Italian noble who is
marooned on a magical island. It was an excellent choice because the play’s
preoccupation with newcomers to island life would have resonated with many
of Olympians who were far from home and new to our isle.
Cottrell Boyce is perhaps best known to British readers for his work
Millions. When Millions was being filmed, director Danny Boyle suggested to
that Cottrell Boyce turn it into a book. The result was a children¹s novel
which beat out Philip Pullman’s work for the 2004 Carnegie Medal.
Writing for children was a radical change from Cottrell Boyce¹s usual genre
of gritty adult realism. He has said that children’s literature gave him a
new lease of life.

Cottrell Boyce offers encouragement to new writers and quotes the journalist Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘10,000-hour rule’, which holds that many hours of practice are needed to become good at something. The 53-year-old Liverpudlian is also the father of seven children. A proud
Catholic, he pays tribute a tall Irish nun, Sister Paul, who taught him at school. One day the young Cottrell Boyce wrote a comedy sketch that Sister Paul read out to the class. The way the other pupils reacted encouraged him
to make a career out of writing.


Paul Ryan, a 42-year-old lawyer from Wisconsin, is a cradle Catholic who ran
to be vice-president of the United States. The extraordinary thing about him
is that he didn’t water down his Catholic faith for popularity. A father
with three children, he was buying cinnamon buns for his kids one day on the
campaign trail when he asked a priest in the bakery to bless his rosary
beads. Since then, supporters have given him rosaries.
A steady-eyed, frank man, Ryan does not speak as loudly and as often about
his Catholic faith as Rick Santorum. But he insists on Sunday Mass for his
family, which they attend at St John Vianney parish in a suburb of

Ryan sparked controversy this year with his proposal to balance the US
budget, known as the Path to Prosperity, and for his determination to
eliminate the country’s Alternative Minimum Tax. It should be noted that the
US bishops did not take issue with all of Ryan’s policies, but specifically
with his economic plan, which they argued would endanger the poor. A group
of Left-leaning nuns travelled across America during the summer 2012,
campaigning against Ryan’s proposals.
But Ryan insisted that he was acting in good conscience and defended his
tax-scrapping plans, reminding Americans of “the exploding federal debt”. He
quoted the Holy Father saying that governments which run up high debt are
“living at the expense of future generations”
After losing the election, rather than wallowing in his sorrows, Ryan said
that at least he would have more time to spend with his children. He is
still youthful and is already the favourite among some Republican Party
faithful to be the 2016 presidential candidate.

Catholic Herald People of the Year appears in The Christmas Double Edition of The Catholic Herald.


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