If four critics are correct, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan stepped into the middle of a mess when he said on last Sunday’s NBC’s “Meet the Press” that if not for the Obamacare’s treatment of undocumented immigrants, provisions that require Catholics to violate the dictates of their consciences, and abortion, Catholics would be among the loudest “cheerleaders” for Obamacare.
Concerning Obamacare, Cardinal Dolan said:
We bishops are really in kind of a tough place because we’re for universal, comprehensive. life-affirming healthcare. We, the bishops of the United States–can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal health care. That’s how far back we go in this matter, okay. So we’re not Johnny-come-latelys.
We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, “Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,” so we began to bristle at that.
And then secondly we said, “And wait a minute, we who are pretty good Catholics who are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing healthcare, do it because of our religious conviction, and because of the dictates of our conscience, and now we’re being asked to violate some of those.”
So that’s when we began to worry and draw back and say, “Mr. President, please, you’re really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we’re not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders.” And that, sadly, is what happened.
The Cardinal’s narrative didn’t set well with the President of the Media Research Center, L. Brent Bozell. In an interview with CNSNews.com, Bozell asked:
Who is the “we” in this conversation? Certainly not the Catholic Church.
It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church is one of Obamacare’s greatest supporters. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church “wants to be” with Mr. Obama on this. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church wants to be a cheerleader for a policy sold to the public through deceit, with projections that were false, and based on a formula that is guaranteed not to succeed.
I say this respectfully: Your Eminence, you speak for yourself here, not the Church.
Bozell is correct. Cardinal Dolan doesn’t speak for the Church, even when he was the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, Bozell went a bit far afield in his criticism because Cardinal Dolan specified three moral issues–lines in the sand, so to speak–that make it impossible for Catholics to support Obamacare.
The Cardinal’s narrative also didn’t sit well with the long-time Dolan critic, the President of the American Life League, Judie Brown. According to CNSNews.com, she said:
How dare he say that Catholics should be “cheerleaders” of Obamacare. He’s a pathetic example of a shepherd of the Catholic Church.
A bit strong, no? “Pathetic”?
Brown didn’t back down. The hierarchy’s failure to stand against the total opposition to Catholic teaching by prominent Catholics in the Obama administration–Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, specifically–and to unite their flock against the passage of Obamacare, means they now have to deal with the contraceptive mandate. She added:
[Dolan] is a media darling. They promote him as the preeminent Catholic speaker in the U.S. because they know what he’s saying suits their agenda, not what the Church teaches.
I’ve known Dolan for over 20 years, since he was the archbishop of Milwaukee, and it has not been what you would call a friendly relationship. That’s because I was one of the original authors of the campaign to get the bishops in the United States to follow Canon Law 915 and deny Communion to people who were persisting in the public promotion of a grave evil, such as abortion. Cardinal Dolan has never agreed to enforce 915.
If the courts uphold the contraceptive mandate, Brown believes the hierarchy will back off. She predicts:
It’s so very sad. The Catholic Church has the ability to shut down the Obamacare mandate. It would go away if they shut the doors of every Catholic facility, but they won’t–and Obama knows they won’t.
Unfortunately, Ms. Brown misquoted Cardinal Dolan. He did not state that Catholics should be cheerleaders but that they would have been cheerleaders for Obamacare if not for those three moral issues. Who’s to know if Catholics would have been? Cardinal Dolan is entitled to his opinion.
Not one to shy away from voicing his opinion, the founder of Church Militant TV, Michael Voris–who believes Obamacare would not have passed if Cardinal Dolan and other members of the U.S. hierarchy had actively opposed it–had this to say:
I just continue to be deeply disappointed in [Dolan]. They don’t want to rock the boat. They run the Church like it’s a corporation. Less than five U.S. bishops said, “We will defy this.” The other 300 said nothing, and a good number of them quietly supported it. They won’t make the tough choices. They’re constantly siding with a pro-abortion, liberal, socialist-minded agenda.
The Faith has been watered down. It’s like the 11th Commandment is “Never give offense”–and the other 10 have been erased.
Voris is absolutely correct. When the hierarchy is divided and does not speak with a united and forceful voice, opponents of Church teaching are always more likely to prevail in the public square.
Then, there’s the professor of political science at Christendom College, Dr. Christopher Manion, who has been examining the relationship between the U.S. Catholic bishops and federal government. Ever since World War I, Manion believes, the Catholic Church and the federal government have been “joined at the hip.”
In the CNSNews.com interview, Manion cited a March 31, 2012 Wall Street Journal article in which Cardinal Dolan admitted that the Church’s sex abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality.” Manion said: “They lack fortitude. They haven’t taught morality in 50 years.”
Manion fears the hierarchy will back down concerning contraceptive mandate. He said:
I only pray they do the right thing under tremendous pressure. There is a powerful temptation not to, and reasons that can be easily rationalized.
If Manion’s observations about Cardinal Dolan and the U.S. hierarchy are correct, for the past five decades the nation’s bishops have not been obsessing over social issues. Many disagree with that opinion.
The banner headline resulting from the “Meet the Press” interview was Cardinal Dolan’s statement that Catholics had been “out-marketed” in the battle over so-called “homosexual marriage.” But, the real headline is the opposition his statement that Catholics would have been “cheerleaders” for Obamacare–excepting three moral issues–has stirred. Unfortunately, much of that criticism is unwarranted.
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