Evangelize With Honey, Not Vinegar, Cardinal Dolan Says

The archbishop of New York said that people need to fall in love with Jesus Christ as the first step of their conversion.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York (photo: archny.org)

BALTIMORE — Christians should be warm, and so invite people into relationship with Christ and the Yes of the Gospel, says Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York.

“Evangelization means attracting people to the person and message of Jesus Christ,” Cardinal Dolan told CNA Nov. 12, while attending the U.S. bishops’ general assembly in Baltimore.

“If they fall in love with Jesus and the Church, then we can begin to do a lot of the conversion and the tough moral teaching,” he said, adding that “we can never turn our back on those.”

Cardinal Dolan was outgoing president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the USCCB assembly. His successor in the post is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky.

The cardinal pointed to the teachings of St. Francis de Sales, saying that “you attract a lot more people with a teaspoon of honey than with a teaspoon of vinegar.” He said that “anything that we can do to be human, warm, compassionate, joyful” will help evangelization efforts.

“The old philosophers will tell you ‘good always attracts,’” Cardinal Dolan continued, adding that “anything that we can use to attract” others to the good of the Gospel will serve to evangelize the world.

“If we come across as negative and crabby and mean and judgmental, we’ll turn people away,” he said. “If we come across as embracing, engaging, warm and inviting, we’re going to get them in.”

The Church’s teaching is itself an invitation to goodness, Cardinal Dolan continued.

“We have to remember what Pope Benedict told us: The Church is in the business of a big ‘Yes.’”

He said, “A Yes to everything that is noble and liberating and decent and uplifting in the human project. The only time the Church says No is to something that negates human dignity, and two ‘No’s make a ‘Yes.’”