Cardinal Dolan: Don't look for Pope Francis to change church doctrine

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, of the US, attends a Mass for the election of a new pope celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday to elect the next pope amid more upheaval and uncertainty than the Catholic Church has seen in decades: There's no front-runner, no indication how long voting will last and no sense that a single man has what it takes to fix the many problems. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Andrew Medichini

(CBS News) Many U.S. Catholics pinned their hopes for an American pope on Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Soon after the papal conclave came to a close on Wednesday -- and the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis -- Dolan arrived to a hero's welcome Wednesday night at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

New York's larger-than-life cardinal told "CBS This Morning's" Charlie Rose that the election of Pope Francis signals two things "that are at the heart of Catholic life today."

"Number one is the amazing expanse of the Church in what we would call the Second or Third World. Latina America is just bursting with Catholic life ... and it shows the universality of the church," Dolan explained.

Dolan added that early in Pope Francis' tenure, "you'll see that he is particularly celebrated for his tender love of the poor."

Addressing the claim by some within the Catholic church that the choice represents a shift for the Vatican, one that could lead to reform, Dolan said Pope Francis will be limited by the nature of his role as pontiff.

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"In one way ... reform is at the essence of the pope's job description ... because he is echoing Jesus," Dolan said, before adding, "Most people mean will he change church doctrine. That he can't do. We have to remember that again, the job description of the pope is to preserve, to conserve the integrity of the faith and pass it on."

Still, Dolan allowed that Pope Francis "might ... reform ways that it's done. He might kind of stress particular doctrines of the church that perhaps haven't been stressed as much in the past but he's not going to tamper with the immutable teaching of the church."

An area Dolan admitted is particularly in need of reform is the church government.

"There's a general sentiment amongst the leadership of the church that the Roman Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church, does need some attention and that the oil of the machinery of the church universal needs some oiling, and some cleaning and some attention."

Touching on the role of women in the church -- an frequent topic when it comes to reform -- Dolan reitereated that docrinal changes on issues including the ordination of women, noncelibacy, and divorce "can't change."

"It's a discipline of the church," he said. "Do I expect it to change? No. Could he change it? Yes. Possibly yes, probably no. Our nation of women is a doctrinal thing."

Dolan told Rose he believes Pope Francis will be more than a so-called transitional pope, despite his advanced age.

"[He is] a new beginning. I hope God gives him a good decade," Dolan said. "Some have said that Pope Francis has the mind of a Benedict and the heart of John Paul II," he added.

According to Dolan, the cardinals shared a "friendly, fraternal" meal with the newly appointed Pope Francis on the night after the conclave ended and their new pope joked them, "'I hope you had a good night's sleep, you deserve it and. ... I toast you and may God forgive you.' It brought the house down."