Cardinal Timothy Dolan's mother relieved he isn't pope

Thursday, March 14, 2013 | 12:12 p.m. CDT
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to reporters.

ST. LOUIS — The mother of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said she is relieved her son wasn't chosen as pope, even though she contends he would have been the better choice.

Shirley Dolan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she awoke at 3 a.m. Wednesday and spent the day glued to the television awaiting the announcement of a new pope.

Timothy Dolan grew up in Ballwin and now leads the New York Archdiocese. He was considered a longshot for the papacy but among the most logical choices if an American was the pick.

The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was announced as pope Wednesday, taking the name Pope Francis.

Shirley Dolan said Pope Francis would be "very, very good."

"The only thing is he's not jovial. He looks very stern or something, but he'll be OK — Tim would have been better," she said with a loud laugh.

Shirley Dolan said she'd felt selfish about not wanting her son to be pope. When she discussed it with him on the phone recently, he laughed and said, "That is so far-fetched, mother, I haven't even given it a thought."

"He's wonderful, and I know he could do it," she said of her son. "It should have been him, but thank God. He is so family oriented — all of us are — and he wouldn't be coming home. He comes home all the time for baptisms."

At Holy Infant School in Ballwin on Wednesday, second-graders in Melinda Carel's class spent time before the announcement making small paper signs to welcome the new pope.

"Most of them say, 'Go, Tim Dolan,'" Carel said.

In another classroom, sixth-graders watched TV with anticipation, even as Sister Rosario Delaney, principal at the school and close friend of Dolan's, tried to manage their expectations and her own.

When the news registered, there were a few seconds of stunned silence.

"Boys and girls, we still have to welcome our Holy Father," Delaney said.

The students clapped politely.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson spoke at a news conference expressing delight for the choice of a new pontiff. But when asked if he was disappointed that Dolan was not chosen, he replied, "Of course. How could you not be?"

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