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Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press after leading a morning prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Cardinal Dolan yuks it up with a fellow Catholic: Stephen Colbert

By DAVID GIBSON

Religion News Service

First Published Sep 04 2013 12:04 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:34 pm

New York • New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the most famous funny man in the American hierarchy, went on "The Colbert Report" last week to trade quips with another funny guy — and another well-known Catholic — host Stephen Colbert.

Indeed, as Colbert — inhabiting his onscreen persona as a blowhard right-wing pundit — said in welcoming Dolan: "You’re the second most famous Catholic in America — after myself."

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But it was actually Dolan who got the first gag, and giggles, as he walked onto the set and ostentatiously bowed and kissed Colbert’s hand as if he were greeting the pope.

"I’ve got to get a nice big ring if you’re going to be kissing my hand," replied Colbert, who seemed — uncharacteristically — unsure of how to play the exchange.

Dolan was Colbert’s only guest on the show, and he ended the interview asking Dolan what would happen if Pope Francis retired and Dolan were elected pontiff — what name would he take.

The cardinal laughed, along with the audience, and after a long pause, said simply: "Stephen."

It was well-timed, and Dolan got in the last laugh even as he got the first one.

Here are some other highlights from the conversation between Colbert and Dolan:

On Dolan’s new ebook, "Praying in Rome: Reflections on the Conclave and Electing Pope Francis":


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Colbert • "So this blows the lid off the papal conclave."

Dolan • "There’s really not much to say — I lost."

Colbert • "You did not get the gig. … I was pretty mad because I had 50 bucks on it."

On Pope Francis:

Colbert • "I don’t care for the guy."

Dolan • "He loves you, Stephen."

Colbert • "Well, it’s unrequited at the moment. I’ll tell you why. Here’s the thing: He’s too soft. He’s too soft on sin, for me, this pope. You heard what he said about atheists? He said even atheists are redeemed by Christ. … If even atheists are redeemed by Christ, why have I been going to Mass every Sunday? I could have gotten another nine holes in! What do you think that means?

Dolan • "Look, you don’t got to Mass to win heaven. You go to ask God for help to get you there. You go to Mass to thank him for being such a great God that he wants you to spend eternity with him. That’s why you go to Mass. You don’t go to win heaven because you can’t earn it — it’s a gift. He wants to give it to all of us."

Colbert • "I don’t always know why I’m going to Mass. But I’m usually glad that I did.

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