Cardinal Timothy Dolan Tries to Make Peace between NYPD and City Hall

By Bruinius, Harry | The Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Cardinal Timothy Dolan Tries to Make Peace between NYPD and City Hall


Bruinius, Harry, The Christian Science Monitor


As tensions have begun to mount this weekend between the New York Police Department and the tens of thousands of protesters who continue to march against the grand jury decision in the killing of Eric Garner, the spiritual head of the area's millions of Catholic residents spoke out on Monday, urging both sides "tune down the volume and speak calmly" as anger continues to rise.

And Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the charismatic archbishop of 2.6 million Catholics in much of New York City (Brooklyn and Queens are in a separate archdiocese with 1.6 million more Catholic residents), is in many ways in a unique position as a broker of peace in the city, remaining a highly respected religious official among the NYPD, which has traditions long shaped by the city's Irish Catholic heritage.

This weekend, episodes of violence erupted in a few incidents across the city as some 30,000 protesters took to the streets, disrupting traffic and chanting slogans against the grand jury decision and the NYPD. And on Saturday night, a small breakaway group caused a disturbance on the Brooklyn Bridge, reportedly tossing materials onto the roadway below the pedestrian bridge and then assaulting two police lieutenants, leaving both hospitalized and one with a broken nose.

And members of the NYPD continued their verbal attacks against Mayor Bill de Blasio, who as a candidate was outspoken in his opposition to police tactics. Police appeared especially incensed over the past two weeks after Mayor de Blasio said he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, have told their biracial son Dante to be especially careful during encounters with police, citing a history of heightened dangers white children may not face.

On Friday, the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, the NYPD's largest union, responded by posting a form on its website for cops to sign, requesting that neither the mayor nor City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito attend his or her funeral, should they be killed in the line of duty.

Cardinal Dolan urged "upset leaders" not to pour "kerosene on the fire" and caricature "dedicated police officers as bigots." And while he did not refer directly to any leader specifically, his words, published Monday in The New York Daily News, were linked to a story about the de Blasios' worries about their son, and the vehement responses from NYPD officers and others.

But Dolan also denounced the union's aggressive action against a hallowed public tradition.

"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. …

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