The first time Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, met Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan, the congressman was talking about St. Thomas Aquinas. Cardinal Dolan reminisced about the meeting and their subsequent friendship and correspondence during his Sirius Catholic Channel radio show Thursday.
The meeting took place at Carthage College, a Lutheran school in Kenosha, Wisc., Dolan, then bishop of Milwaukee, was there to receive an honorary degree; Ryan, a fourth-term congressman, was the commencement speaker that year.
“He gave — I timed it — nine minutes, which is excellent, on St. Thomas Aquinas,” recalled Cardinal Dolan, who himself tends to give concise homilies. “It was tremendous, in front of a Lutheran audience,” the cardinal remembered. “So we really started up a great correspondence and got to know each other very, very well.”
“We go way back, Congressman Paul Ryan and I,” the cardinal continued. “I came to know and admire him immensely. And I would consider him a friend. He and his wife Janna and their three kids have been guests in my house; I’ve been a guest at their house. They’re remarkably upright, refreshing people. And he’s a great public servant.”