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
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/