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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dinner with Diocletian

In recent weeks we have read that Catholic Relief Services has given millions to organizations that fund contraception and abortion throughout the world.  Now, after all the defiant talk about religious liberty, Fortnights for Freedom, and voting one's "values," we learn that the American Church's preeminent Cardinal is going to honor our persecutor at American Catholicism's most prestigious event, the Al Smith Dinner. 

Given that a majority of American Catholic bishops covered up criminal activity in a manner that would have sent most laymen  to prison, perhaps their moral vision is impaired.  We doubt very much that the early Christians invited Diocletian to dine with them, much less seated him at the head table.

If the Cardinal Archbishop of New York doesn't have the good sense to withdraw his invitation to Obama or cancel the event, clear thinking Catholics, who traditionally support the Al Smith Dinner, should stay home.
By Dr. Jeff Mirus

President Obama’s appearance at the Al Smith Dinner is confirmed. He was invited by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. This annoys (and in many cases alarms) serious Catholics everywhere. What can be said about it?

As our news reports emphasize, the invitation is traditional—but there have also been some notable exceptions, especially where the abortion issue is concerned. The decision to honor President Obama at Notre Dame last year was extraordinarily controversial, drawing the ire of many bishops, and the American bishops as a body have placed themselves squarely in the path of Obama’s assault on religious liberty. Cardinal Dolan himself has questioned not only the President’s policies but his veracity on these issues.

Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling explained that “it is the tradition of the Smith dinner to invite the presidential candidates in the presidential election years in the spirit of nonpartisanship, good humor and good fellowship.” But surely there are limits to “good humor and good fellowship”. At a certain point, if the Church is serious about opposing the assault of anti-Christian powers and principalities, the Church cannot set this seriousness aside in the name of “good humor and good fellowship.” If she does, she will never be respected as a defender of her own prerogatives or of the rights of the faithful.

One could generously speculate that Archbishop Dolan sees an opportunity here to influence the President in a direction favorable to the Church, but if he sees such an opportunity then my opinion is the same as it was when I commented in January on his statement that he was “terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed” by Obama’s duplicity and hostility toward people of Faith (see Archbishop Dolan’s Letdown, and Job one). Once again, there seems to be something pathetic in even suggesting that such an opportunity is present here.

It is not hard to figure out who is going to benefit from this invitation—the Church in bending the President to her will, or the President in seeking more of the Catholic vote. So one can only ask: Is Archbishop Dolan merely revealing, once again, that he is possessed by an inner Democrat as yet only marginally transformed by his own religious beliefs? Or is he betraying the time-honored episcopal tendency, so often denounced by the saints as worldliness, to want to be “a player”, to be able to extend invitations to those in power and have them accepted? Only God knows. But as in all such matters, we can take a certain amount of solace in the certainty that He really does know: “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay.” (Rom 12:19)

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