Nov 30, 2013

Cardinal Dolan on Losing the Culture Wars

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that Pope Francis had resigned and been replaced by yet another pope. How many retired popes, I wondered, could Vatican City accommodate? Would this become the new normal in the Catholic Church? And what about the Malachy prophecy? Because it looks very likely that Pope Francis is, in fact, Peter the Roman. Mostly, I was just really disappointed because I like this pope. He's not perfect but his heart is in the right place.

I was somewhat relieved to find this morning that Francis was still the pope and all was, more or less, right with the world. But then I was disheartened to hear that Cardinal Dolan was on Meet the Press spinning like a top. Because it's never about the regressive views of US bishops. It's about how they're being unfairly portrayed in media. Why oh why do they have so much trouble getting their message across?

They're not anti-gay says Cardinal Dolan. That's just how they've been "caricatured" by the media, simply because they're so pro "traditional marriage." But they've been "outmarketed," says Dolan.

"When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion molders that are behind it, it is a tough battle.”

What the round-faced, red-hatted one never seems to understand is that if you're for something to such an extent that you want to prevent everyone else from doing differently, you are by definition, "anti." And Cardinal Dolan is "anti-anybody" who wants to get gay married. But he seems somewhat resigned to the fact that the "stampede" of same sex marriage support is crushing formal Catholic opposition.

Also horribly unfair, says Cardinal Dolan is the misconception that the Catholic Church is opposed to universal healthcare. They were way ahead of the curve, says he, going all the way back to 1819. But they can't support Obamacare because, you know, birth control mandate. It goes against the teachings of the Church. Never mind that 98% of Catholic women in America have used birth control.

This tells us a lot about the priorities of US Bishops. Landmark legislation that the Catholic Church has been wanting for nearly a century and they can't support it because of a handful of wedge issues. This is called letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. There were many things the political left wanted from Obamacare and didn't get -- a public option for instance -- but they didn't let that stop their support for the overall aims of the bill. Because that would have been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. That US Bishops were willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater over contraception tells you very quickly that they are far more preoccupied with our wombs than our health.

Pope Francis has gone on record regarding the Catholic Church's priorities and found them wanting. The relentless obsession with things like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, are contrary to the overall aim of spreading the Gospel, says the pontiff.

A few days ago His Holiness made waves again when he released an exhortation addressing the injustices of modern capitalism.

Pope Francis has taken aim at capitalism as "a new tyranny" and is urging world leaders to step up their efforts against poverty and inequality, saying "thou shall not kill" the economy. Francis calls on rich people to share their wealth.

The existing financial system that fuels the unequal distribution of wealth and violence must be changed, the Pope warned.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Pope Francis asked an audience at the Vatican.

The Bible contains over 300 verses on social injustice and caring for the poor. It is, in fact, a major theme. Whereas a smattering of verses on homosexuality say nothing about marriage rights and actually call for execution. That traditional marriage Cardinal Dolan waxes on about loses out big time to polygamy. And the tireless obsession with our lady parts is ridiculously counter-biblical in all respects but the misogyny. News flash: Abortion isn't forbidden in the Bible.

I know that Cardinal Dolan is adhering to Catholic doctrine but he's cherry-picking that just as he is the Bible. Pope Francis seems to have his priorities in better order. I hope he remains pope for a good, long time, or until the end of time, whichever comes first.

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