Cardinal Dolan Did Not Deserve Raymond Arroyo's Praise
As Arroyo must know, Mother Angelica would not have made such a grievous mistake as Cardinal Dolan made.
As part of the Good Friday intercessions, Catholics pray that "our God and Lord may direct [the] minds and hearts [of those in public office] according to his will for the true peace and freedom of all" and specifically for "freedom of religion."
Those who would substitute freedom of worship for freedom of religion must be resisted, not honored, and those who do honor them should not be praised for badly miscalculating, at best.
Raymond Arroyo is the news director of EWTN (the Eternal Word Television Network founded by Mother Angelica), the host of its weekly news program, "The World Over" and the author of Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles (Doubleday, 2005).
On Holy Thursday, Arroyo's speech on the power of art and legacy he had delivered last September at an EWTN event was included in his weekly show.
Generally, it was a tour de force, but its praise of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's benediction at the Democrat national convention last year focused solely on the benediction and ignored the price paid for the privilege of delivering it--Cardinal Dolan's invitation in August 2012 to President Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October 2012.
To be sure, Arroyo is not a mind reader and could not know what Cardinal Dolan would say at the dinner during the month after his speech, but by extending the invitation to Obama, Cardinal Dolan signaled an acceptability that Obama did not deserve. As I wrote in "Cardinal Dolan Should Look to Father Pavone for Wisdom and Strength" (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=120808):
"President Barack Obama must have been delighted to accept the invitation of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to address the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, an annual fundraiser for New York Catholic Charities to be held on October 18 this year."
"The invitation was not merely inappropriate, it was shameful."
After Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke at both the Republican and Democrat conventions and his invitation to Obama but before the dinner. Arroyo declared that he was "impressed" and it was "good." He described the benediction at the Democrat convention as "btilliant" and "a great Catholic moment."
It was a fine benediction, and a big deal for Cardinal Dolan personally, but it was a grave mistake because it was a much bigger deal for the man whose administration Cardinal Dolan's Archdiocese was suing for violating its constitutional right to free exercise of religion.
Arroyo rightly noted that what is remembered from the day of the Republican convention during which actor Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair representing Obama was that, not the other speeches.
Likewise, Cardinal Dolan's benediction came and went, while the sly Obama secured reelection with the support of most "Catholic" voters.
Cardinal Dolan's benediction at the Demorat convention last year is not memorable, because Cardinal Dolan chose not to repeat there what he had stated earlier in the year with respect to the Obama Administration's HHS mandate:
"...it is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception."Pure and simple, it's about religious freedom, the sacred right, protected by our constitution, of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry."When the President announced on January 20th that the choking mandates from HHS would remain — a shock to me, since he had personally assured me that he would do nothing to impede the good work of the Church in health care, education, and charity, and that he considered the protection of conscience a sacred duty — not only you, but men and women of every faith, or none at all, rallied in protest. The worry that we bishops had expressed — that such government control was contrary to our deepest political values — was eloquently articulated by constitutional scholars and leaders of every creed. Even newspaper editorials supported us!"
THAT would have been memorable, but, alas, it is not consistent with Cardinal Dolan's assurance at the Al Smith dinner that Obama is an honorable man.
"Separation between faith and life" was condemned by the Second Vatican Council as "among the more serious errors of our age." The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life stressing that "[t]here cannot be two parallel lives...the so-called 'spiritual life,' with its values and demands; and...the so-called 'secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture." There is no exception for bishops or even cardinals. Likewise, treating an abortion advocate and violator of religious freedom as honorable, equating the conventions of the pro-abortion and pro-life political parties of the United states and exchanging invitations with him even while opposing Obamacare mandates and suing for violation of religious freedom are serious errors, not "brilliant."
Arroyo did not mention that Cardinal Dolan's invitation to speak at the Democrat convention followed his own invitation to President Obama to speak at the Al Smith Dinner earlier in thee year.
The two invitations obviously are connected and should be judged together, not separately. If Cardinal Dolan had NOT invited Obama first, he would have had to have been content with giving the benediction at the Republican convention only.
Kathy Schiffer, in "Breaking Bread With the Enemy: The Al Smith Dinner" (www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2012/08/breaking-bread-with-the-enemy-the-al-smith-dinner/), explained why Cardinal Dolan should not have invited Obama:
"Under Cardinal Dolan’s spirited leadership, Catholics have rallied: More than 130,000 participated in two nationwide rallies in the Spring of the year, expressing concern and outrage over the government’s intrusion into the conscience rights of churches and individuals of faith. Now this Dinner wipes the slate clean; poorly informed Catholics and others will think, 'If the Cardinal can put aside petty differences for a light night of fun and jokes, this must not be very important.'
"I think the Al Smith Dinner could cost pro-lifers the election and put this radically pro-abortion President back in the White House for another four years. Coming just a few weeks before the election, this will be a singularly important photo op for the President—and the media will do his bidding, showing the Cardinal and the Prez enjoying laughs and cigars like nothing is wrong."
Schiffer noted that in 1996 Cardinal O’Connor did not invite the presidential candidates because he opposed President Bill Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion bill and in 2004 Cardinal Egan avoided the presidential candidates because Democratic challenger John Kerry espoused strongly pro-abortion views and admitted, "Why Cardinal Dolan, who has led the American Church in its efforts to overturn the unconstitutional HHS Mandate, would overlook the gravely pro-abortion policies of the Obama Administration and the President’s staunch refusal to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act in the courts, and would invite President Obama to rub elbows at this lighthearted Dinner is a mystery to me."
After Cardinal Dolan was invited to speak at the Democrat convention, I doubt that Schiffer was still mystified.
If Cardinal Dolan thought that he would get the better of Obama in the invitation exchange, he was much too proud.
As I wrote in "Cardinal Dolan v. USCCB on whether President Obama is honorable" (www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/121020):
"At the Al Smith Dinner on October 18, 2012, Cardinal Dolan declared that both major party presidential candidates, President Obama and Governor Romney, are honorable men.
"In proclaiming President Obama to be honorable, Cardinal Dolan did what the USCCB said should not be done.
"Even if Cardinal Dolan's invitation to speak at the Al Smith Dinner should not be treated as an honor, his declaration that President Obama is an honorable man was an honor.
"If Planned Parenthood honored President Obama, it would make sense.
"After all, President Obama is the most pro-abortion President in American history and Planned Parenthood is in the abortion business.
"Therein, it is stated in pertinent part: 'Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.'"
Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, was right that inviting Obama to the Al Smith dinner was wrong. “I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the President’s policies vs. respecting his office,” Father Pavone said. ”But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.” “There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church. On August 1, the unjust HHS mandate went into effect for Priests for Life and millions of other Americans, and I announced to our staff that we are disobeying the mandate,” Pavone said in comments to LifeNews. “So no, I don’t think the invitation is appropriate at this time.”
As Arroyo must know, Mother Angelica would not have made such a grievous mistake as Cardinal Dolan made.
Mother Angelica founded her own network to be true to her faith and put it first, not to be timid or politically correct. When United States bishops entertained Pope John Paul II with a show that featured Christ as a female mime, she stopped accepting their programming, despite their string-pulling and threats. When Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles issued a pastoral letter that she believed was wrong, she critiqued him, point-by-point, on television, and then refused to offer a false apology, even though Cardinal Mahony got her threatened with interdict (the loss of the Sacraments) and the closure of her community. When still other bishops tried to gain control of EWTN and stifle her loudly orthodox voice, she famously said, "I'll blow the damn thing up before you get your hands on it."
If the price of speaking at the Democrat convention was honoring a person who promoted abortion and attacked conscientious rights and freedom of religion, Mother Angelica would not have paid it.
Pat Archbold, in "Legacies: Mother Angelica or Cardinal Mahony" (www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/legacies-mother-angelica-or-cardinal-mahony):
"For those of us who watched it at the time, it is hard not to think of Cardinal Mahony without also thinking of the legacy of Mother Angelica. Their two competing visions of the Church came to a head in the late 90's and for a while it was quite unclear which vision would prevail. Ultimately, it is too soon to say which vision will prevail, but perhaps it is not too soon to ponder their legacies.
"Cardinal Mahony, whose dereliction of spiritual and human duty, led Archbishop Gomez to say 'I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed.'
"We wait to see the actions of Rome, but it seems clear that Cardinal Mahony's most lasting legacy will be one of failure, evil, and damage. Failure of his priestly and episcopal duty, the evil allowed to fester and then covered up, the damage to innocent individuals, damage to the diocese both spiritually and financially, and the damage done to the Church as a whole. We are all damaged by what occurred there.
"Back in the 90's, presumably at the same time that so much of this evil was occurring and being covered up, Cardinal Mahony brought the full force of his position against Mother Angelica for her criticism of his writing. Thus began a process that ultimately led Mother to let go of her creation, her legacy, in order to protect it from the Cardinal Mahony's of the world. But she did and the network she founded, although not without trial and tribulation, continues to do tremendous good in the world. Mother's legacy will be one of the call to truth, holiness, and conversion throughout the country and the world.
"As the good book says, 'By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?'"
Cardinal Dolan's benediction at the Democrat convention must be judged in context. The price paid to deliver it was much too high, and the result was not what Cardinal Dolan surely must have been praying it would be. (The next Democrat Party platform probably will endorse same-sex marriage as well as abortion.)
Arroyo described himself during his speech as a proud New Orleanian.
Cardinal Dolan's invitation exchange and declaration that Obama is honorable are not things of which to be proud, but an archbishop of New Orleans having excommunicating political boss Leander Perez is!
As I wrote in 2004 (www.catholicmediacoalition.org/illicit%20reception.htm):
"The case of Louisiana racist Leander Perez illustrates why Communion must be denied to those who are publicly rejecting fundamental church teaching. In 1962, an exasperated Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans finally excommunicated Leander Perez for opposing desegregation in Catholic schools. Perez eventually repented (as did others of his ilk), and the school integration succeeded.
"As a state judge and political boss of Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, Perez made the lives of African-Americans miserable. But Perez could not intimidate Archbishop Rummel, who not only knew that racial segregation was sinful, but that it needed to be ended. The Archbishop noted that 'enforced racial discrimination inflicts incalculable mental and emotional cruelty and pain, physical and social privations, educational and economic restrictions upon 16 millions of our fellow citizens, and that these discriminations are unjustifiable violations of the Christian way of life and the principles of our American heritage.'
"In 1953, the Archbishop's pastoral letter, 'Blessed Are the Peacemakers,' was read aloud in the archdiocese’s churches. It declared 'the unacceptability of racial discrimination.' Perez and his allies were unmoved. The Archbishop threatened in 1956 to excommunicate them, but they held protest rallies and withheld church contributions instead of repenting.
"Interestingly, segregationist Catholics formed the Association of Catholic Laymen of New Orleans and it 'asked the Pope (Pius XII) to stop Rummel from taking further steps to integrate white and Negro Catholics and to decree that racial segregation is not "morally wrong and sinful"' ('Morals' 36). The Vatican's response was a reminder that that 'the Pope had condemned racism as a major evil, asserting "that those who enter the Church... have rights as children in the House of the Lord."'
"In 1962, the Archbishop at last acted decisively. He announced that in the fall, the city’s Catholic schools would admit black students. Perez and his allies persisted in their opposition, so the archbishop excommunicated them for continuing 'to hinder his orders or provoke the devoted people of this venerable archdiocese to disobedience or rebellion in the matter of opening our schools to all Catholic children.' They were barred from the Mass and sacraments as well as Catholic burial.
"By the fall, 104 black children were admitted to the city’s Catholic schools. By 1968, Perez repented and, after his death in 1969, was given a Catholic burial."
Archbishop Rummel did not honor the powerful political boss, he excommunicated him, for just cause, and he was right to do it.
Archbishop Rummel is a man of whom both New Orleanians and non-New Orleanians can be proud for upholding Church teaching.
We need faithful like Mother Angelica and Archbishop Rummel, not proud ones who think they can get the better of the devil in a deal.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.