Mr. McGurn (and Others), Are You Convinced?

 

Cardinal Dolan has provided a defense of his Al Smith Dinner invitation to President Obama.

I have to say that Bill McGurn perfectly captured my thoughts and feelings about the invite in his excellent post last week. It has been a hot topic on the Catholic homeschooling Yahoo group I belong to — with moms fiercely defending both sides. I, too, was pulled both ways.

But then I read Dolan today, on the Feast of Maximilian Kolbe, my favorite saint, and I’m wooed by Dolan’s warm, firm, humorous, and humble response. The fact that perhaps struck me most of all was his reminder that the dinner raises money “to help support mothers in need and their babies (both born and unborn) of any faith, or none at all.”

Perhaps the invite and the ensuing controversy will only aid in the pro-life and pro-women cause. Wouldn’t that be just the perfect result?

Anyway, here’s just a bit of it, but it has a strong lead-in and a classic ending. Very Dolan-esque. Hard not to love the guy. What do you guys think?

For one, an invitation to 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.

Two, the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

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 ofengagement and dialogue. In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, mo re 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?

Finally, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values, particularly the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom. In fact, one could make the case that anyone attending the dinner, even the two candidates, would, by the vibrant solidarity of the evening, be reminded that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion, assemble on behalf of poor women and their babies, born and unborn, in a spirit of civility and respect.

Go ahead, read it all.

There are 18 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    Yea Ursula! Keep up with the homeschooling. You go girl.

    • #1
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    @Freesmith

    Cardinal Dolan undermines his entire point, Ursula, with his strawman, either-or nod of approval to the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II was a false council. And if you doubt that, compare the vitality of Catholicism before and since.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

    The same one that the 40 or so lawsuits against the Obama administration by Catholic Archdiocese and other organizations are sending.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    Even if we should assert that a virtuous act animated by great passion is of greater merit than one which lacks such passion, can we, also, assert that a failure to become angry in a particular moral situation could be a sin, a peccatum or vitium? The Angelic Doctor is clear. Yes, there are occasions in which failure to become angry would be sinful and would indicate either a defective grasp of the true good or a will incapacitated by intemperance, lust, or lazy inertia. St. Thomas quotes St. John Chrysostom who writes, “He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but even the good to do wrong.”

    The Second Vatican Council defined no new dogmas. 

    Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

    That was 1945. I’d be very surprised if many invitees in that year would have supported contraception and abortion.

    • #4
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    @Pseudodionysius

    Interesting timing on your post Ursula. Catholic convert philosopher extraordinaire, former atheist, and fearsome polemicist Ed Feser over on his blog addresses the criticism regarding his “tone” and “pugnacious elan” regarding his book The Last Superstitition:

    When you treat an ignorant bully arguing in bad faith as if he were a serious thinker worthy to be engaged respectfully, you only reinforce his prestige and maintain the illusion that he might be onto something. You thereby make it easier for people to fall into the errors the bully is peddling. Again, see the blog posts I linked to and the chapters from Fr. Sarda y Salvany for more on the reasons why polemics are sometimes not merely allowable but called for.

    I don’t know the economics of the Al Smith dinner, but it would be interesting to see the reaction if the dinner were simply cancelled indefinitely until the HHS mandate and violations of religious freedom are resolved. 

    My memories are a little fuzzy on how much tickets for the King Herod Celebrity Roast Dinner and Dance fetched but my Denarius-US Dollar conversion spreadsheet appears to be misplaced.

    Cowardice often masquerades as Charity at the banquet of Tolerance.

    • #5
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    @Pseudodionysius

    I also cite the magisterial authority of David Berlinski on the value of name calling and insults.

    • #6
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    @UrsulaHennessey

    Well, this is kind of fun … and related, in a way, don’t you think? It’s today’s Times City Room blog about the meeting of Helen Gurley Brown and the (then) Archbishop

    I see you are not convinced, Pseudo, by the Cardinal. I see all your points. Just not totally convinced (yet) to reject the Cardinal’s position. But it’s a toughie, that’s for sure.

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    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Cardinal Dolan is a big boy. He does not need my permission to meet with the President of the United Sates. He is the shepherd of all — not just those who do not need a shepherd.

    There is nothing cowardly about him. He is a true Christian — valiant, cheerful, and filled with hope. After all, if Christ has already won the victory, what do we have to fear?

    Cowardice often masquerades as prudence, I would say…

    • #8
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    @Pseudodionysius

    I see you are not convinced, Pseudo, by the Cardinal. I see all your points. Just not totally convinced (yet) to reject the Cardinal’s position. But it’s a toughie, that’s for sure.

    I concede the Cardinal may have information or insight into the situation that eludes me. But it does rather astound me that the face that launched a thousand HHS mandate lawsuits is being invited to the dinner as if he has demonstrated any capacity to argue in good faith.

    I do remember a time when an Emperor had to beg a Holy See for forgiveness on bent knees in the snow and now we’re invited to watch the gentle laughter over a meal as if a 100% NARAL endorsement is merely a whiff of chloroform or laughing gas in the dentist’s chair.

    I beg the Cardinal’s forgiveness if I find something else to occupy my evening and my cheque to a charity of my choice.

    • #9
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    @Pseudodionysius

    Of course if Eric Metaxas were able to address the audience I might have more reason for hope.

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    @UrsulaHennessey
    Pseudodionysius: Of course if Eric Metaxas were able to address the audience I might have more reason for hope. · 16 minutes ago

    Oh boy, now I *DO* agree with you on that! That Metaxas speech made my year. Have watched it several times with delight.

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    @Pseudodionysius
    Ursula Hennessey

    Pseudodionysius: Of course if Eric Metaxas were able to address the audience I might have more reason for hope. · 16 minutes ago

    Oh boy, now I *DO* agree with you on that! That Metaxas speech made my year. Have watched it several times with delight. · 15 minutes ago

    Just to buttress the point, by Cardinal Dolan’s own public statement on the HHS response to his face by President Obama, he left no doubt that the President had no interest in negotiating with the Catholic Bishops.

    Of course, I’m no advisor to the Archdiocese of New York. But, if I were, I’d nominate Father George Rutler to deliver the Full Metaxas/Orthopraxis.

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    @CorneliusJuliusSebastian
    Pseudodionysius: Cowardice often masquerades as Charity at the banquet of Tolerance. · 13 hours ago

    BOOM!!! 

    • #13
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    @Kervinlee
    If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;

    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,

    and the Lord will reward you.

    – Proverbs 25

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    @

    I do not know the answer. I agree civility and dialogue is admirable and Kervinlee gives a quote that guides us all. Sometimes though, the other side has no intention of having a dialogue but using the situation to appear good. Is that so in this situation? 

    • #15
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    @LucyPevensie
    Mama Toad: Cardinal Dolan is a big boy. He does not need my permission to meet with the President of the United Sates. He is the shepherd of all — not just those who do not need a shepherd.

    There is nothing cowardly about him. He is a true Christian — valiant, cheerful, and filled with hope. After all, if Christ has already won the victory, what do we have to fear?

    This nonCatholic agrees heartily.  If Cardinal Dolan has made this decision, who am I to judge?  He’s a much better Christian than I could ever hope to be.

    I suspect that those who are questioning the decision are suffering from a little post-traumatic stress after living under some of the other recent US Catholic leadership.

    • #16
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    @donaldtodd
    Kervinlee

    If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;

    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,

    and the Lord will reward you.

    – Proverbs 25 · 14 hours ago

    K, I am not sure that the president is hungry or thirsty, so I don’t think that this quite qualifies, unless he is hungry and thirsty for approval from Catholic prelates as he goes into the election.  I don’t believe that he is courting God’s approval, but merely wants some cover as he rushes to the endgame of election day.

    I think the election consideration is uppermost in the president’s mind.  I don’t believe that the cardinal sees things from that perspective, and unfortunately the “give to God what belongs to God and give to Obama what belongs to Obama” has become “give to Obama what belongs to God.”

    The glad hand of civility, which was used prior to the Obamacare shove down (stupidly in my prudential opinion), does not appear to work with a particular individual.  That consideration hasn’t occurred to our bishops, yet.

    • #17
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    @TimHughes

    As has often been said. The Catholic church  is the spiritual wing of the Democratic party. Cdl. Dolan is simply living up to the tradition.

    • #18

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