New York Daily News

December 15, 2014, 2:30 AM


 

 

EXCLUSIVE
Timothy Cardinal Dolan: Demonizing NYPD or city's leaders won't unite New York

 

The city's character has been tested since the tragedy on Staten Island in July, but it distracts from that character when our understandable anger leads us to become inflammatory and accusatory, writes Dolan.

BY TIMOTHY CARDINAL DOLAN
SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

STEPHANIE KEITH FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEW

The venting of anger at the NYPD — and at city officials — leads Timothy Cardinal Dolan, 'grandson of a policeman,' to call for calm and solidarity during the holidays.

This is only my sixth holiday season here in New York, so, I still consider myself somewhat of a rookie.

But each passing year, I find myself more and more grateful for the character of this city.

Yes, its clamor and vitality, but, more than that: I am talking about its solidarity, its sense of togetherness, its pride in staying close to one another, almost like a small town, even though we are citizens of the world’s metropolis, and a shared effort at fairness, helping one another, coming through in times of distress (think of 9/11 and Sandy), a sense of welcome and inclusion, and a working together for the common good.

This character of New York City has indeed been tested since the tragedy on Staten Island in July. People are understandably angry, upset and frustrated, and some have taken to the streets to give voice to their anger and frustration.

But I have discovered that this city usually rises to the occasion.

We New Yorkers are in it for the long haul, and it distracts from our renowned character when our understandable anger leads us to become inflammatory and accusatory.

So it’s only pouring kerosene on the fire when some upset leaders caricature our dedicated police officers as bigots.

As the grandson of a policeman, as the pastor of the thousands of Catholic women and men who serve in the NYPD, and especially as a New Yorker who is grateful for those who literally put their lives on the line every day to protect us, I cringe at such intemperate stereotyping.

It is equally unfair and counterproductive to dismiss our mayor and other leaders as enemies of the police, and even to go so far as to make controversial one of the more gripping and tearful occasions in the life of this city, the funeral of a fallen officer, a sacred occasion meant to unite us, never fracture us.

What is helpful is to thank God for what we have: a city that owns up to problems and seeks to deal with them; a police force continually trying to improve its policies and strategies, admitting that it can always do it better; protesters who obey the law, and call for justice, not mob rule; city leaders who are sincere in trying to listen attentively to all sides, to affirm what’s right, and reform what isn’t, and religious leaders who bring people together to pray, encourage, and seek justice.

This radiant season, when both Christians and Jews celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, life over death, and hope over despair, might be a providential time to rediscover our character, and that of this grand city, to tune down the volume and speak calmly.

Does this sound unreal? Well, I guess Judah Maccabee was dismissed as too idealistic when he lit the candles on the menorah in the rebuilt Temple; I suppose Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men were snickered at for believing that this Baby, in the manger at Bethlehem, was the Savior of the world.

New Yorkers have a lot of grit in making the ideal practical.

We are bold enough to believe that the psalmist had us in mind when he wrote, “God is the midst of this city, God will help it when the morning dawns.”