Archbishop Dolan: New face of the church?

Influential Catholic leader speaks about church's response to sex abuse scandal, his mission and more

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The past decade has been devastating for the Roman Catholic Church - seemingly endless cases of sex abuse by priests, and bishops who turned a blind eye to it. And there were multi-billion dollar payouts to victims, all of which led to a steady loss of the faithful.

One man the American church hopes can change all that is Timothy Dolan, for two years now the archbishop of New York, the nation's most prominent pulpit. He has also been called the "American pope," after his election to head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

His mission - as he sees it - is to change a perception of the church that ranges from negative to irrelevant. He wants to see the old church made new: zero tolerance of wayward priests and an emphasis on what he calls the most pure and noble experience Catholicism offers.

What does "America's Pope" think?
Gay marriage? Female priests? Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the most important American Catholic today, explains the church's reasoning.

To accomplish his mission, his main weapon is that indefinable quality called charm.

Dolan is hard to miss: this burly, overweight, cherubic Irish-American charges through life like a holy bulldozer, his brow gleaming, hands reaching.

It's a laugh a minute, hugging, glad-handing and backslapping everyone from street cops to big-time donors.

He's a tireless promoter of all things Catholic, and always ready to refuel.

"Did you always have, dare I say, the gift of the gab?" correspondent Morley Safer asked.

"Yes, according to my mom, yes. You couldn't shut me up. You know, the Italians have a great saying that 'Hey, you have to make gnocchi with the dough you got.' Well, God knows I got the dough. Whatever dough God gave me, that's the gnocchi I'll make," the archbishop replied.

Gnocchi, for the uninitiated, is a high carb pasta the good pastor is more than familiar with, as is evident when the 61-year-old Dolan dons his robes to say Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

He takes obvious joy in the pageantry, pounding his bishop's staff as he bulldozes his way into church, beaming broadly at parishioners and politicians alike.

He's a man in love with his job.

"When did you know you wanted to be a priest?" Safer asked.

"I can't really remember a time I wasn't hypnotized by the priesthood," Dolan replied.

Asked if he ever had any doubts along the way, Dolan said, "There would be three times I could remember when I felt a particular friendship with, and attraction to, three particular girls that I think back upon fondly, that I thought, 'I wonder if a life of celibacy is mine.' And with the help of other people and with prayer, I said, 'Yeah, I think so.'"

Extra: A large flock
Extra: The sex abuse scandal
Extra: Anti-Catholic sentiment?

He was born in St. Louis, the son of an aircraft engineer. Dolan entered seminary at age 14 and destined for stardom: secretary to the papal nuncio, rector of the American seminary in Rome, and archbishop of Milwaukee, where he won over the flock when he gave a homily wearing a Green Bay Packers' Cheesehead.

Baseball, however, is a bit trickier. "They asked me when I got here, they said, 'Are you Cardinals, Mets, Brewers or Yankees?' And I said, 'When it comes to baseball I think I can be pro-choice,'" Dolan joked.

Produced by Deirdre Naphin