Cardinal Dolan and the “threat from within”…

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has quickly become the Church’s voice in the United States.  Not one to back off in a fight over the Church’s right to teach its faith and morals, Cardinal Dolan—the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—wrote a letter on March 2, 2012, to the nation’s bishops.


Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York


It’s a long letter, consisting of four pages, focusing upon the “religious liberty” argument the Cardinal is currently championing.  In the letter, Dolan:

  • Despite the invitation by President Barack Obama to “work out the  wrinkles,” the White House has now announced that the new regulations of the  Department of Health and Human Services have been published in the Federal  Registry.
  • At a recent meeting at the White House between the USCCB and White House staffs, “our staff members asked directly  whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the  straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off  the table. They were informed that they are.”
  • The Church is prepared to continue discussing  these matters: “But as we do so, we cannot rely on off the record promises of  fixes without deadlines and without assurances of proposals that will concretely  address the concerns in a manner that does not conflict with our principles and  teaching.”
  • “…given this climate, we have to  prepare for tough times.”



Cardinal Dolan appears to have taken to heart the promise he made when he was elevated to the role of “Prince of the Church”—to defend the Church and its teaching.  He wrote:

We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are  not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we  cherish as Catholics and Americans. We did not ask for this fight,  but we will not run from it.

Cardinal Dolan concluded his letter stating:

…we know so  very well that religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm  belief, both as loyal Catholics and Americans. There have been many threats to  religious freedom over the decades and years, but these often came from without.  This one sadly comes from within. As our ancestors did with previous threats, we  will tirelessly defend the timeless and enduring truth of religious  freedom.

Yes, The Motley Monk would observe, what the Obama administration is doing is not just about Church teaching but, more broadly about religious freedom.  And, yes, this threat is from within.



What Cardinal Dolan doesn’t say in his letter about that particular threat, however, is that the “threat from within” has its roots deeply sunk into the Catholic Church of the United States.

With more than 70% of Catholics disagreeing with Church teaching on artificial birth control and abortion (excepting partial birth abortion), the Obama administration knows that and is cleverly using that knowledge in an effort to divide Catholics from the hierarchy with the goal of winning the majority of the Catholic vote in November.

The Motley Monk would also observe that Cardinal Dolan’s strategy may not just be religious but also political.

By not backing down in this fight, the Cardinal–intentionally or unintentionally, The Motley Monk does not know—is redirecting attention away from the pedophilia scandal and toward the intersection of religion and politics in the marketplace.  More importantly, he is providing a cheerful role model of a priest at his best—teaching the faith in good times and in bad times—that may very  well prove attractive to young men who, through their selfless service on behalf of the Church, will carry on this mission in the next generation.



To read Cardinal Dolan’s letter to the bishops, click on the following link: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Dolan-to-all-bishops-HHS.pdf

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link: http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

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The Motley Monk is Fr. Richard Jacobs, O.S.A., a Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University. His academic specialities include: organizational theory; leadership ethics; Catholic educational leadership; and, U.S. Catholic educational history. Check out Fr. Jacobs' daily blog at http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html.


  1. It is very cynical of you to think that the Cardinal is using this matter to deflect from the pedophile scandal. He has not run from that topic. And to think that he is purposely trying to attract young men to the priesthood because they will be so impressed with him? Cardinal Dolan doesn’t strike me as the type to be that full of himself. His leadership probably will attract men to the priesthood, but he is not orchestrating that in a self-centered way.

  2. Publicly excommunicate the heretics and apostates from within! Turn them over to satan for the destruction of their flesh so that their eternal souls may be saved on the Last Day. That’s what St. Paul told the Church at Corinth to do about the very public case of a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. It’s all in chapter 5 of 1st Corinthians. Why is that so hard to understand? This isn’t a private case of a girl having fooled around and gotten pregnant, or a gay person trying to be chaste who failed, or a guy who has a porn internet addiction, or an alcoholic who picked up a drink again, but has returned to his 12 Step meeting. None of us are perfect. We all sin. “For all have come short of the glory of God.” Rather, this is a public scandal and it needs public remediation.

  3. The Wall Street Journal had an editorial in support of the Cardinal’s letter yesterday, 3/6/12.

    This is what they said in the final paragraph: “‘Religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief,’ Cardinal Dolan concludes. The sad reality is that his letter will not persuade the dominant wing of America’s governing political party from insisting that religion kneel before its secular will.”

    The editors are right and that is why action is necessary to defeat that “dominant wing” of the Democrat Party. And the best visible action to fight back is for the bishops to direct their pastors to provide voter registration tables out side their churches after all weekend Masses from now to the registration deadline for this November’s election. They need to start now because Obama’s dictate to the Church and the attack on the Constitution begins Aug 1, this year. There will be nothing more “threatening” to Obama and the Democrats than to see and know Catholics promoting Voter Registrations campaigns nation wide while Obama and his Administration are attacking the Church. Just as money is the mother’s milk of politics, so voter registration is the blood of party politics. Too many Catholics are still registered in the Democrat Party…give them a chance in public to register out of that party in support of their faith and our Constitution, and watch what Democrat legislators, both federally and state wise, do.

  4. Paul W. Primavera
    Publicly excommunicate the heretics and apostates from within! Turn them over to satan for the destruction of their flesh so that their eternal souls may be saved on the Last Day. That’s what St. Paul told the Church at Corinth to do about the very public case of a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife.
    St. Paul’s heretics were only sleeping indiscriminately. These heretics are kiling the innocent children of God, like Herod.
    Cardinal Dolan’s HOPE AND CHANGE are the real HOPE AND CHANGE.

  5. Paul, with all due respect, the grave threat to the very existence of the Catholic Church in your country at present is too grave to be trivialized by side-shows. The Obama Administration has told our Holy Father and his Brother Bishops and Shepherds of Christ’s Church that they MUST BOW TO HIS EDICT OR PERISH. Obama is dead set to cause a major schism of the Catholic Church in America. The entire Universal Catholic Church is fully alive to this evil design against Her. And She is aware that if Obama succeeds in dividing the Church in America, every country worldwide, which is under the vice-like grip of the American influence will be shaken to their roots. This is the time for all people of goodwill to stand up and oppose this Evil which not only threatens the Catholic Church every American since your own Constitution is being trampled underfoot by Obama. This is an arrogant challenge to God, His Divine Law and Natural Law

  6. Sadly, according to the cited stat, 70% of catholics have chosen the World over the Gospel and the rewards of Eternal Life and for that the Church bears guilt.

    It’s time to get the “ship” back on course.

    I wonder, are catholic Democrats “mind-sets” (Hey, I’m an accountant) similar to the mind-sets of the catholic Democrats in 1863 New York? You know: they pulled off the Draft Riots: the devil’s own work.

    MM: At least you waited until the end spill the priest pedophile bucket.

    Is there a reason liberal pond scum haven’t yet thrown that in our faces?

  7. Sharon:

    TMM doesn’t view politics as a cynical exercise of will.

    That the Cardinal may be using this matter to deflect from the pedophile scandal, is what TMM wrote. And, if that is part of the Cardinal’s strategy, TMM believes it a brilliant political maneuver, not denying the scandal but moving beyond it to other matters that also need to be addressed directly and forthrightly. It’s a “two-fer.”

    TMM would ask you: Is your view of politicians so sullied by how politics are practiced by so many politicians today that Socrates’ view of the “statesman” (the “politician” who puts what is in the common good ahead of one’s self-interest) isn’t factored into the equation when reading a statement?

    Then, too, perhaps TMM could have expressed himself better or, at least, stated Socrates’ view.

  8. Mary42,

    Perhaps I misunderstand. How is implementing the precedence set in Sacred Scripture a side show?

    Acts 5:1-11 – The Holy Spirit drops Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying
    1st Timothy 1:19-20 – St. Paul delivers Hymenaeus and Alexander up to satan to be taught not to blaspheme
    Revelation 2:20-23 – Jesus Himself casts Jezebel on a sick bed and warns He will kill her children with death (“interficiam in morte”) because of her fornication, and her teaching others to fornicate and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

    It’s time for the hammer to fall. Indeed, the present circumstances are even worse than those in 1st century Asia Minor.

  9. I don’t disagree with the gist of Motley Monk’s post, but I do wonder about that “70%
    of Catholics disagreeing with Church teaching…” figure. Does that figure include all
    self-identified Catholics, or was there an attempt to correlate the claim of Catholicism
    with actual regular Mass attendance?

    I’m liking Stilbelieve’s idea of voter registration tables outside of Catholic churches.
    Make sure the Mass-going Catholics know the score and are prepared to settle it.
    Perhaps if the effort is widespread enough, this administration will have to back down.
    For now.

  10. The corollary is to have the priests preach the truth about contraception/life issues so that the newly registered voters won’t go off and vote for Obama anyway.

  11. The problem with setting up voter registration tables outside of Mass is that there is a fine-line that churches cannot cross in regards to their promotion of any political agenda. I am not familiar with the exact policies or rules, but if the line is crossed, churches lose the tax exempt status rewarded to religious institutions.

  12. If only the LORD GOD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF KING of kings and LORD of lords were sitting in PERSON in the Vatican governing HIS Church and His Mighty angels replacing the Swiss Guard the world would take notice, maybe even fear although fear is not what JESUS CHRIST would want ,and understand the presently invisible to human eyes HIGHER AUTHORITY not only of the Catholic Church but all mankind. May GOD rebuke all His enemies that they may become His faithful followers and friends.

  13. Emma

    “…but if the line is crossed, churches lose the tax exempt status rewarded to religious institutions.”

    There are very good legal organizations that would defend a church and or clergy if the IRS were to threaten to do that. They had a campaign a few months ago encouraging pastors and clergy to join in on Pulpit Free Sunday, in which the clergy would speak freely on any subject without concern for their tax exempt status. That legal group would represent them pro bono if they received a notice from the IRS. It seems historically, the IRS has never pursued removing the tax exempt status of any church even after sending them a notice. In other words, the IRS is used to cause pastors and clergy to not speak freely about any subject for fear of government action.

    Now, as for registering to vote. The mere presence of registration tables is a civil duty or function, not a political one. So, making voter registration available is a civic good. Restricting the registration to a single party would be political and would not be appropriate on church property. However, with what is happening to the Church by the Obama Administration and the Democrats in the Senate voting AGAINST “freedom of religion and the free exercise there of” last week, most certainly is a subject that can be talked about and prayed about in and outside of church. Therefore, that would be proper and appropriate subject matter to be discussed any place on church property and would not be political per se. The Church and its membership have a right to freedom of expression that has been around as long as the First Amendment to the Constitution and since this Democrat Administration and Senate are attacking our Constitutional Rights, we have the right to fight back. Providing church-goers the opportunity to express themselves through registering to vote seems to be not only an appropriate act, but one that carries with it a very loud voice that this Democrat Administration and Senate will hear. We should use THAT voice; it’s putting action/works to our faith (James 2, 20-22), not only in our religion, but in our belief in our country’s historic Constitution.

  14. I think the sex abuse scandal is the opposite as suggested by the Mötley Monk. The majority of abuse cases came from long ago. Silky suspects that the government knewabout these cases for years and was waiting for the right time to lay the ace up its sleeve on the table. That is, the sex scandal came out just in time for the Church to lose moral authority prior to a concerted attack on historic and traditional sexual mores. That way when the government and the agitprops wanted to knock down the barriers and the Church wanted to stop them, no one would listen to the Church because of what it did (or didn’t) do.
    Dolan is just doing his job; the job his predecessors ignored. Worse yet, he’s having to clean up a mess that some of his own brother bishops helped create.
    By the way, isn’t it high time a few “Catholic” politicians were finally officially censured by the Church? What does one have to do to get excommunicated these days? Be a traditionalist? Sheesh!

  15. By the way, I think your 70% estimate is too generous. I’d say about 90% of the “faithful” aren’t. But this is just wishing on shoes at this point.

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