Monday, August 13, 2012
A befuddled people
The recent news that Cardinal Dolan extended to the president an invitation to the Alfred E. Smith annual charity dinner has caused quite a stir among Catholics (those who know it happened at any rate). I believe rightly so.
To provide background to this statement, the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner is an annual fundraising (and media gathering) event, benefitting the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, in which political figures of the day yuck it up and provide self-depricating laughs for the paying crowd.
The foundation is not run by the Church, but benefits many Catholic charities and has Cardinal Dolan as its current president of the board of directors. Traditionally the president of the United States is invited, and during election years, his opponent (though in 1996 Clinton was not invited and in 2004 Kerry was not invited). Cardinal Dolan stated that he kept the tradition (even though he is in the process of suing the president over the HHS mandate) "in the spirit of nonpartisanship, good humor and good fellowship." The cardinal's statement said that by inviting the president he plans to "to foster dialog and communication." I remember when another group wanted to do that, too. Epic fail.
In my opinion, in order to have dialog and communication, both parties have to be interested and honest. When someone lies to you, are you terribly interested in "dialoging" with them again? And if you do, do you believe a word they say? I don't know about you, but if someone lies to me, it takes a looong time to win my trust back. Just ask my kids.
And besides, the Church's disagreement with the president has nothing to do with political parties. It's a fundamental disagreement that by all appearances will not be settled. Ever.
I think Cardinal Dolan is an incredibly smart man, and I trust him as a man of God. But this doesn't look good. Maybe he hopes the president will show his true colors by continually engaging him, but, frankly, I think it's a really, really bad move. Not one worth the risk.
I believe being friendly with the president, extending the olive branch "to foster dialog and communication," sends the wrong message to Catholics across the country, Catholics who may not be intuitive to the cardinal's savvy ways, if that's what they are. Those who tend to side with (ie vote for) the president, but might be inclined to be swayed by the current Catholic controversy involving him, will possibly look at Cardinal Dolan's actions as a truce, or even agreement.
Yes, Our Lord sat down with the tax collectors and prostitutes, and I have heard this as justification for the invitation. But, is the president really on the level with tax collectors and prostitutes? He is the most pro-abort president in the history of our country. He is on the level with murderers. To my knowledge, Jesus didn't sit with the murderers, though Judas came close. The president stands for all five of the non-negotiable intrinsically evil actions that Catholics are called to combat. I am pretty sure that not even Clinton and Kerry protected all five.
My husband suggested that possibly the cardinal and the president have an unknown, possibly unspoken, deal, and by inviting him to the dinner he is creating the perfect opportunity for the president to rescind the mandate (although we all know that even if he rescinds the mandate, somehow we will still be paying for birth control and abortions). I think if he rescinds the mandate it will be just before the election and the action will be seen as conceding to Catholics and so, he will get many Catholic votes. By letting the fight against the mandate occupy us until election time, we will not have spent any time talking about the five non-negotiable evils, all of which the president defends. It's the man behind the curtain syndrome -- don't look at him, the man who stands for intrinsically evil acts, look at the one piece of legislation he created that you fight so vehemently against.
There are some vocal Catholics voicing their disagreement with Cardinal Dolan, but I fear the photos and video of the cardinal and the president yucking it up together will be what most Catholics see of the event. American Catholics will believe what they see and not what they know (or should know). I feel that Cardinal Dolan not extending the olive branch would have sent just the right message: we will not, can not, sit down and be civil with you and pretend you have not lied repeatedly to us, and will likely lie to us in the future. I truly feel the cardinal's actions are a near occasion of sin. We teach our children to avoid the kinds of people and situations that would tempt them, potentially draw them into sin. Is that not what Cardinal Dolan is doing, by supping with the president? (and, yes, I really wanted to make that last phrase an alliteration by calling the president a name that begins with "s" and stands for evil)