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Stephen Colbert joined Timothy Cardinal Dolan for a conversation about humor, faith, joy, and the spiritual life, moderated by James Martin, S.J., at Fordham University in the Bronx on Sept. 14. (L-R: Stephen Colbert, Father Martin, Cardinal Dolan) Photo by Bruce Gilbert.
Are there flaws in the church? Absolutely. But is there great beauty in the church? Absolutely
Cardinal Dolan and Stephen Colbert Discuss Joy and the Spiritual Life at Fordham University

On September 14, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, joined Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” for a conversation about humor, faith and the spiritual life at Fordham University. The New York Times said the evening “might have been the most successful Roman Catholic youth evangelization event since Pope John Paul II last appeared at World Youth Day.”

About 3,000 Fordham students watched the two men answer questions in a discussion, called “The Cardinal and Colbert,” moderated by Jesuit Father James Martin, the “official chaplain” of Colbert’s show.

Colbert talked about how he remains a faithful Catholic. “Are there flaws in the church? Absolutely. But is there great beauty in the church? Absolutely,” he said.

Fr. Martin also asked both men questions sent in by the audience members via e-mail and Twitter, such as, “I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?”

“The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the church gives me, which is love,” Colbert said.

Cardinal Dolan responded that “it’s good” to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. He added, “By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces.”

According to Fr. Martin, the event was the idea of two young Fordham theologians, Michael Peppard and Charles Camosy, who pitched it to Fr. Martin in January. Planning the event was “only marginally less difficult than planning the Second Vatican Council,” wrote Fr. Martin.

After the event, Fr. Martin reflected on the conversation:

“I couldn’t imagine two more lively Catholic conversationalists: it was consoling just to be with two people so on fire with their faith, and hear them speak about God. … It was a joy being among the thousands of Fordham students. … Being among college students is for me always a spiritual boost; being around so many at once, so obviously touched by the discussion about Catholicism, was a special blessing.”

For more coverage of the event, see the following:

Jesuit Father Jim Martin’s opening remarks and reflections
Cardinal Dolan’s opening remarks
Jesuit Sam Sawyer’s reflections at The Jesuit Post
Fordham University press release
Associated Press story
The New York Times story





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