Give Me a Break

Cardinal Dolan did not betray the Church by inviting Obama and Romney to a Al Smith Dinner.

Read Cardinal Dolan’s explanation in his own words before crying “scandal!” and gnashing your teeth. Here’s a small excerpt but I encourage you to read the whole thing:

Three, 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. 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. Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements. Thus did our present Holy Father graciously receive our current President of the United States. And, in the current climate, we bishops have maintained that we are open to dialogue with the administration to try and resolve our differences. What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

[. . .]

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

The real betrayal of faith comes from those who respond to Dolan’s attempt at maintaining a civil dialogue between the church and our country’s leaders with hate and despair:

I can’t wait to hear obama crack his one-liners…how about starting off with how he forced the Catholic Church to shut down the adoption services to prevent homosexuals from adopting children and teaching them their perverse lifestyle…or how about how in his next term he’ll force the Catholic Church to marry same-sex deviates…and if that don’t get the religious laughing out loud how about ending it with how he can hear the screams of the little children in the womb screaming as they are ripped apart in their pro-choice mothers womb……WOE TO THOSE THAT CAUSE SCANDAL IN THE CHURCH……………….have a nice laugh Cardinal Dolan, Satan can just sit back and watch as Christ own representatives can do his dirty work for him.

Comboxes are full of such wailing and sneering from Catholic laity who Know Better Than The Pope, doncha know. Such hubris is poison in the well and does far more damage than a few photos of Cardinal Dolan and President Obama sitting at the same table ever could. Cardinal Dolan, I think, says it best when he states that to refuse to associate with sinners means eating all of our meals alone. That is contrary to charity, it is contrary to solidarity and it is contrary to hope. It is not Christian, because it is not Christlike. We are not called to lock ourselves away from the world, to draw a line between Us and Them and never cross it. We are them; we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all made in God’s image. Christ gave himself to those who needed it most: he didn’t lock himself away behind the temple walls only to associate with the Pharisees; he went out into the world and dined with his enemies, even Judas, the very man whom he knew would betray him. Are we not called to follow Christ’s example?

So, to anyone troubled by Cardinal Dolan’s decision to break bread with President Obama: do not despair. Forget your wounded pride and continue to fight the real fight: the fight in defense of the unborn, the weak, the needy. Be virtuous – and don’t abandon those who aren’t.

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