Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, described Pope Francis as a "pleasant surprise," and exclaimed Thursday, "What a gift he is."
"He's simply himself," Dolan told CNN's "New Day."
Pope Francis broke away from previous teachings of the Catholic Church by encouraging flexibility on issues like homosexuality and contraception. He lives more simply in a guesthouse at the Vatican rather than the papal apartments, drives a 1984 car, and exudes a more personal touch in frequent interactions directly with people.
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"Hallelujah. What a gift he is," Dolan said. "It's been a pleasant surprise. I am thrilled with the effect that he's had on the world."
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The archbishop said the Pope speaks to this period in history and to those who may have felt distanced from the Catholic Church in the past. Dolan said Pope Francis recently told him the church needed to "reestablish a warmth and a tenderness."
"I think now what we're seeing, and Pope Francis knows it, is somebody to restore that sense of embrace, that warmth, that tenderness. And, he's doing it on steroids," Dolan said.
The cardinal explained Pope Francis differs from his predecessors, Pope Benedict, whose "great charism was the mind, the brain," and Pope John Paul II, who, he said, was a "man of fortitude and courage."
"Then, we had to deal with people who felt alienated from the church, because we had Popes who were brilliant in expressing the timeless vigor of the church's teaching. Now, we've got a Pope that says, 'You know, we got another aspect of that teaching . . . mercy, love, tenderness, inclusion,'" Dolan said.
"We need both. He's a nice balance," he added.
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