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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Is Cardinal Dolan an Apologist for Republican Social Policies?

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, agreed to lead a prayer at the close of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. I believe the Democrats should respectfully ask Roman Catholic women religious to pray, at their convention in Charlotte, SC next month. I prefer praying with nuns, who work side by side with the poor, the disabled, women in crises and children who live in homeless shelters, than a Roman Catholic Cardinal who appears to endorse cuts to health care and social programs, proposed by Republican austerity policies.

Is Cardinal Dolan an apologist for Republican social policies? I pray not, but, frankly, I don't know.

What I know is this. Millions of Roman Catholic women stopped listening to church Bishop and Cardinals when they started interfering with reproductive rights and strictly endorsed the methodology for natural family planning.

Moreover, mothers have been reticent, if not mistrustful, of Bishops and Cardinals ever since the scandal became evident, whereby Church leaders ignored decades of sexual abuse by many priests who preyed on children. Many women will not be impressed by Cardinal Dolan praying at the GOP convention, because the Republican positions to de-fund family planning and social service safety net programs will impact on the everyday lives of working mothers who are often caregivers for aging parents.

On the other hand, women respect the work of modern Roman Catholic religious nuns. In the footsteps of Mother Theresa of Calcutta or St. Mother Cabrini, these devout women go about their charitable mission supporting the needs of the disabled, the frail, prisoners, the homeless, women and children, regardless of how church leaders view their work as being too feminist.

Perhaps Cardinal Dolan, naively, believes praying with the Republicans will somehow help the Roman Catholic Church. But he must know how politics often creates religious martyrs - remember St..Thomas a Beckett and St. Thomas Moore.

In Italy, Roman Catholicism is more tradition than religion. Ireland has seen the faithful leave the church by the thousands, as a result of the sexual abuse scandal. Many of Canada's Roman Catholic churches are tourist attractions, used for weddings and funerals. In America, millions of Irish Catholics (Cardinal Dolan's own heritage) are leaving the Church.

In other words, rather than see its leaders praying at a political convention,  the Roman Catholic Church needs to feed its dwindling flock.

No doubt, Republicans need prayers, but they can go to church to receive penance and redemption, just like ordinary people.

Cardinal Dolan might even consider celebrating a Mass for the Republicans, rather than appear to be a political apologist.  Many Roman Catholic Republicans would justifiably relish this spiritual opportunity.

Of course, Cardinal Dolan could use his convention prayer to raise Republican social consciences, woefully lacking when they demand more tax cuts for the rich. But, in all due respect, Cardinal Dolan should use the opportunity for prayer to call on Republicans to support the social justice teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Of course, Cardinal Dolan is proud to be asked to pray for the Republicans. After all, times have changed since the Republicans worried about Democrat John F. Kennedy bringing his Roman Catholic faith to the White House, when a myth prevailed that the Pope would unduly influence our national interests. Thankfully, Republicans have come full circle about Catholicism. 

Still, Cardinal Dolan should know that his convention prayer will look as though he is supportive of Republican policies that fly in the face of Roman Catholic social teaching. 

Cardinal Dolan is a Prince of the Church who could be an admired religious leader, if he used his time in Tampa praying and caring for the inevitable victims of hurricane Isaac, scheduled to make landfall as a potentially devastating storm.   Instead, Cardinal Dolan appears to be more of a Republican apologist, than a religious leader.

Certainly, Cardinal Dolan knows how his own home at St. Patrick's Cathedral in on 5th Avenue in New York City, was built because of the dedication of Pierre Toussaint, a Black Haitian hairdresser, who faithfully gave his money to construct the first church. Toussaint is the first layman buried in the crypt below St. Patrick's main altar. Toussaint is said to have been a humble man.

So, it certainly wouldn't hurt to remind Cardinal Dolan about the humble origins of his beautiful Cathedral. Humility is a challenge for all Roman Catholic Cardinals, and that's the truth.

I certainly have no problem advising Cardinal Dolan to return to his roots as an Irish Catholic. He should forgo prideful offers from Republicans, who have not demonstrated their moral responsibility to support social safety net programs and women's health. 

In summary, Cardinal Dolan should invite Republicans to pray at his Cathedral built on the toil of Venerable Pierre Toussant, rather than be an apologetic adornment at their national convention.



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