Newly ordained Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, recently took a vocal stand against President Barack Obama's birth control mandate. Now, some are calling him the "rock star" of the Catholic faith.
In a sea of red robes at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy, Dolan stood out during the Feb. 18 cardinal ceremony. The bishop even won a smile from Pope Benedict XVI as he placed the red cardinal cap on Dolan's head.
"From the hands of Peter, and know that your love for the church is strengthened by the love of the Prince of the Apostles," Benedict said.
Dolan's charisma is infectious to people of all ages. Several photos have been taken of the cardinal laughing and candidly interacting with the pope and other Catholic leaders.
"My favorite part was when Cardinal Dolan put his red hat on my head," said Joe Liberatore, Jr., a Catholic pilgrim.
"The Archbishop Dolan, now Cardinal Dolan, has been glowing everywhere he goes. And he just brings that joy to everyone around him," said Ryan Young, another pilgrim.
"I was so touched the other day. Tears were just coming down my face. I was totally overwhelmed," said Noreen Berardino of Dolan's canonization.
Hundreds of New York residents made the trip to Rome for the cardinal's ceremony and to see the new prince of the Catholic Church deliver his first mass at the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul.
"He looked at Mom and said, 'You look way too young to be the mother of a Cardinal.' Is that beautiful?" Dolan said about the pope during the ceremony.
Dolan's charm isn't the only thing that's bringing him higher popularity among Catholics around the world. So is his stance against a new health care mandate that forces all employers -- even religious groups -- to provide access to free birth control.
"The government will still require most Americans to pay for this coverage, even if it violates their consciences," Dolan said.
It's an assertive stand that has some speculating that Dolan may be what the Catholic church needs as its next leader.
Pope Benedict, 84, is growing weaker. He now enters the church on a wheeled platform, unable to walk the aisle.
Dolan is only 62 years old and has a common touch.
"He can present the gospel message, the message of Catholicism to people, with a smile, not a frown," noted Father Tom Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The new cardinal is also humble and happy to be back in New York in time for Ash Wednesday mass.
"You always keep New York first, because first and foremost, the best way I can be a good cardinal is by being a good archbishop of New York," Dolan explained.