Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has paid tribute to the Irish influences in his life and the Irish contribution to building up the Catholic Church in America.
Dolan added that that the problems faced by the modern church are not due to its teachings, but people's refusal to accept them.
He was speaking at Maynooth University in Ireland last week.
“My great-great-grandparents came from Cavan and Leitrim in the mid-nineteenth century, desperately joining hundreds of thousands of other emaciated Irish fleeing the anguish of the famine,” Archbishop Dolan said.
“These starving, one-step-away-from cadavers arrived in America with nothing, nothing of earthly value, but with a heavenly treasure to-be-sure: a glimmer of faith, a sparkle of hope, the whisper of a prayer. And they built the Catholic Church in the United States.
"And this boy, thanks to Dolans, Sheerins, Murrays, Troys, and Hogans, was brought to a baptismal font in Maplewood, Missouri, in the winter of 1950, and was raised by parents who had the faith in their DNA, traceable to turf in Cavan and Leitrim, and who, while far from ‘shi-ite Catholics,’ took that faith sincerely and seriously, and taught me to do likewise.
"And this boy, while only seven, had the additional good fortune of being educated by brave Sisters of Mercy who came to Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin, Missouri, from Drogheda, who lovingly and effectively formed me and mightily encouraged my nascent priestly vocation, one of whom, Sister Mary Bosco Daly, is here this afternoon.
“I understand it to be somewhat politically incorrect to say so in Ireland today, but, so what? I say, God bless the Sisters of Mercy!”
After recalling the challenges he had faced as archbishop of Milwaukee “my predecessor had sadly resigned in ignominy after revelations that he had paid an adult male partner $450,000 of archdiocesan funds,” Archbishop Dolan said
“We’re not priests for what we can get, but for what we can give, and anyone who’s in it for power, authority, privilege, or entitlement should not be,” he continued. “That’s clericalism, and it is a vice, a sin.
"To those who claim the problem is that, as a matter of fact, Church teaching is too holy, too aloof, too distant, too out of touch, I say the problem is hardly Church teaching but lack of fidelity to it,” Archbishop Dolan concluded.