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The Cardinal Virtues

Engagement, Dialogue and Civility

Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 9/17/12

Cardinal Dolan Explains Himself

In a recent posting on the website of the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Dolan defended his decision to invite Barack Obama to the annual Al Smith Foundation Dinner on October 18.  The defense presented demonstrates the total surrender of the Catholic Church to the Zeitgeist and the powers that be in America.

Dolan begins by praising an address by the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus to the annual Knights Convention, in which the Supreme Knight “exhorted us to a renewed sense of faithful citizenship [Cardinal Dolan’s emphasis], encouraging us not to be shy about bringing the values of faith to the public square. This duty, he reminded us, came not just from the fact that we are Catholic, but also from the fact that we are loyal Americans.”

In the Year of Our Lord 2012, America is descending into an abyss of utter depravity, with the blood of tens of millions of aborted children on its hands and militant homosexualism on the march. Yet as America becomes another Sodom, faced imminently with the fate of all Sodoms, Cardinal Dolan’s idea of “faithful citizenship” is not to be “shy” about bringing our “values” to the “public square.”  The “public square,” of course, is that great temple of the American civil religion, peopled by all loyal Americans—a place so much bigger than any one church, including the Church of which Cardinal Dolan happens to be a prince, consecrated to his office with a vow of blood martyrdom.

Referring again to the Supreme Knight’s speech, Cardinal Dolan writes of a “promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics… Americans are fed up with the negativity, judgmentalism, name-calling, and mudslinging of our election-year process, and eagerly want a campaign of respect, substance, amity —civility! [Dolan’s emphasis].”

Dutiful servitor of the Zeitgeist, Cardinal Dolan calls for the one virtue the new order demands of everyone: civility.  Let’s everybody be nice, not allowing our differences about such matters as the death of millions of innocent children or the demands of militant homosexuals for legal recognition of their sodomitical relations to give rise to any sort of unseemly acrimony.  Civility—with italics—that’s the thing!

Turning to his decision to invite Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, Dolan offered the excuse that “the Al Smith Dinner is not an award, or the provision of a platform to expound views at odds with the Church. It is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.”

With all due respect, whom does the Cardinal think he is kidding? An invitation to the Al Smith dinner is an honor to the invitee, and is most certainly a platform for the promotion of views “at odds with the Church”—by which the Cardinal means “at odds with” the divine and natural law. Obama’s very presence in an honored position on the dais promotes his diabolical program even if he says not one word in defense of it.

Indeed, as the website of Al Smith Foundation observes: “In the days before Saturday Night Live, the Al Smith dinner served as a kind of ‘proving ground for the candidate as entertainer,’ as one reporter described it.” That is, Cardinal Dolan is furnishing a stage on which Obama will entertain the American people with professionally written and carefully rehearsed comic material, in the hope of winning votes or at least more favorably disposing the electorate to the evil he represents. By allowing Obama to elicit waves of laughter and applause from his oh-so-civil audience—loyal Americans all—and worse, by joining in the jollity himself, Cardinal Dolan will materially assist the final degeneration of what is left of the moral order in America.

“I am receiving stacks of mail protesting the invitation,” Cardinal Dolan admits. But those stacks of mail will not deter the Cardinal from his uniquely American mission of civility. “Let me try to explain,” he writes. The Al Smith dinner, the Cardinal explains, is intended “to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility [Card. Dolan’s emphasis], and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate.”

People of faith? What faith, exactly, do Catholics have in common with Barack Hussein Obama? We know the answer already, but the Cardinal provides it anyway: the faith of Vatican II, which replaces preaching with discussion and conversion with dialogue: “the teaching of the Church, so radiant in the Second Vatican Council, is that the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue. [Card. Dolan’s emphasis] In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one.”

Quite simply, this is baloney.  The Church was commissioned by Our Lord to be a sign of contradiction to the world, just as Our Lord was to the Pharisees at the cost of His own life. To the extent Our Lord dialogued and engaged with unbelievers it was for the purpose of correction and enlightenment. But Cardinal Dolan will not be engaging or dialoguing with Barack Obama in order to correct or enlighten him. Rather, the Cardinal will join the rest of the crowd of jolly, faithful citizens in fêting the man he has honored by inviting him to the dais, applauding his remarks, laughing at his prepared jokes.

Cardinal Dolan asks: “What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?”  How about this: the right message.  The message that Holy Mother Church will not dignify evil by providing it with a seat of honor; that the Church will not cast her pearls before swine; that the Church will not reduce to a frivolous social occasion what is really a combat—a final combat—between Christ the King and the Prince of Darkness.

Furthermore, at the Al Smith Dinner the Cardinal will not “meet with the President,” as if to remonstrate with him concerning issues of the day. The Cardinal has invited Mr. Obama to festivities at which he will be an honored guest immune from serious criticism, according to that very spirit of “civility” the Cardinal deems the paramount concern of American public life. Not truth, morality and justice, but civility—with repeated italics—is what the event will promote.

“Some have told me the invitation is a scandal,” Cardinal Dolan admits. That is because it is a scandal. “That charge weighs on me,” he reveals, but evidently not very heavily. He replies to the charge: “So, I apologize if I have given such scandal.  I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?”

The rhetorical question is plainly disingenuous: not inviting either candidate would give no scandal whatsoever, and the Cardinal surely knows this. There is nothing in the charter of the Al Smith Foundation that requires presidential candidates to appear and tell jokes at the annual fundraising dinner. And it is the very presence of the candidates that has reduced the event to a standup comedy venue both candidates manipulate for blatantly partisan purposes.

Cardinal Dolan concludes his apologia for scandal with a remark that is simply too much to bear: “In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners...”

What can one say in the face of such shameless demagoguery? Our Lord, of course, supped with sinners in private, with the aim of reaching their hearts through His preaching, as He did with the sinners and tax collectors who supped with him (to the grumbling of the Pharisees) while He told the parable of the prodigal son recounted in the Gospel of Luke. Cardinal Dolan, on the other hand, will be hosting a gala public event covered by the worldwide mass media in which the center of attention will be, not the Son of God and His Gospel, but Barack Obama and the gag lines he paid comedy writers to provide for him.  To suggest that Our Lord provides the example for this iniquitous farce borders on blasphemy.

There is no longer any time for polite diplomacy respecting wayward prelates, grinning captives of the spirit of the age. In the hope of shaming them into courageous public opposition to evil, let us acknowledge publicly and bluntly the reality of our situation: If prelates like Cardinal Dolan represent the hope of the Church, humanly speaking there is no hope. The Cardinal Archbishop of New York is playing the role of merry mortician, helping to lower the Church Militant into its final resting place in a grave he has already helped to dig.

Writing a scant eleven years before Vatican II neutralized the Church’s opposition to the errors of modernity, the Venerable Pope Pius XII warned the faithful: “The human race is involved today in a supreme crisis, which will issue in its salvation by Christ, or in its dire destruction.” (Evangelii Praecones, 70). No such prophecy of doom from any mere Roman Pontiff will be allowed to dampen the merriment at the Al Smith Dinner, where Catholic clerics will join cheap politicians in gazing adoringly at America’s image in the mirror of their imperturbable civility. For after all, America is always at her best when she glories in herself.

Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo.

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