Cardinal Dolan Agonistes

New York's Cardinal Archbishop, Timothy Dolan

New York’s Cardinal Archbishop, Timothy Dolan

In the late 90’s, one of my candidates for U.S. Senate spoke for about an hour and a half – including the questions and answers – before a large mixed civic group in the Chicago Metro Area. It was dominated by trade and economic issues. Only one question came about abortion – and the whole time devoted to it was, maybe, two minutes. To read the stories in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times and the Daily Herald the next day, you would have thought abortion was the only thing discussed. My candidate was furious and baffled.

It was a useful moment, for it underscored that conservatives and religious folks do not and will not get a fair or honest shake from a media that, when not hostile, just occupies a whole different world. To deal with that, you have to carefully calibrate how you are going to approach each issue. You do not want to say too much – for if you do, the papers can choose the most awkward thing to make into their headlines and quotes. Better to have anticipated questions and have a short, pithy statement that does not easily lend itself to distortion. For example, my candidates always supported gun rights – and the hostile media does not. So to control the narrative, I always encouraged them to simply say, “I just think disarming victims is a dumb way to fight crime.” If there was a follow-up question on  the subject, I recommended they smile warmly and say, “I really just think disarming victims is a dumb way to fight crime.” Nothing else. It guaranteed that what our message was would get across – and the only time we got in trouble was when candidates got wordy and tried to expand on that message.

Until you have lived it, it is hard to imagine how tricky it is to have several reporters following almost every public moment you have, especially if they are hostile to what you believe and constantly look for something with which to trip you up. It takes an extraordinary discipline. You must avoid any casual or sarcastic comments; you must contemplate how to say what you mean in precise terms that cannot be mutilated to mean something you did not intend and you must anticipate issues and questions that will arise before anyone else thinks to ask them – along with a precise answer. A huge part of my job was preparing candidates and officials for just such occasions – and many times I was called in quietly to manage a PR crisis behind the scenes for a candidate or official I did not directly work for. I must admit, whenever I had some little state legislator running for his first big office, thinking he knew what he was doing, I always took a little private glee when he first thought he was ruined because of some casual thing he had said – especially if he was one who had always been mouthy about what others in the heat of the spotlight should have done. I would ride privately with them after such a blunder, give them a hearty grin, and say, “Tougher than it looks, isn’t it?” You may think that is cruel, but actually, it heartened them – for my hearty grin told them it was not the end after all, and they almost invariably emerged humbled and ready to take more care that what they said reflected precisely what they meant.

All this is prelude to noting that New York’s Cardinal Archbishop, Tim Dolan, has had a rough couple of weeks. Part of it is of his own making – but in the sense that clumsiness is of our own making, not that he has gone apostate – and part of it is as a result of doing something entirely honorable. Let’s take the clumsy issue first, acting as Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade after a strident gay advocacy group was invited to march in the parade – and seeming to make statements approving the radical gay agenda.

It seems to me that the balancing of three prime duties were involved here. First was the duty to evangelize, to call things by their proper name and to call Christians to repentance for sins, that they not damage their souls. Dolan has been heartily criticized by many for failing to speak plainly about the sin that is active homosexuality. A round-up of the comments from those who emphasize this position can be found on this CNS News article. Most think he should have bowed out of the parade entirely.

He also has a pastoral duty to all he encounters, to recognize that many will differ from him, particularly those from other faiths or no religious faith. Those who emphasize this duty of his ministry argue that, above all, he must act and speak in a way that does not alienate those who have either strayed or reject the faith, that they not entirely shut themselves off from the Word. This position is eloquently stated by Elizabeth Scalia in her regular column, “The Anchoress,” at the Patheos website.

A third duty that I have not seen remarked on is the duty to act with fortitude, even under hostile circumstances. The aggressive homosexual rights lobby has largely been a mask for a hostile anti-Christian agenda. Already, Christian bakers, photographers, wedding planners and other small businesses have been heavily fined or shut down for refusing to violate their consciences by participating in and celebrating activities they find intrinsically wrong. With Christianity already being assaulted and marginalized throughout America, should the Cardinal Archbishop of America’s premiere city have quit the SAINT Patrick’s Day Parade and conceded that without even a fight? Of course not.

But the criticism centers around the lack of effective fight many think Cardinal Dolan mounted. It is a reasonable criticism. But when making this case, you must remember that the United States Government and the establishment media made a full-scale assault on the rights of conscience of every American with the health care law. It was Cardinal Dolan who led the fight, who held the line, to make sure those rights were defended for all. Throughout, the government offered supposed ‘accommodations’ that were mere fig leafs for abject surrender. Cardinal Dolan would have none of it. He stood strong and did not surrender to the siren song of accommodating himself to a hostile culture that has become increasingly anti-Christian and wants to penalize and punish anyone for actually living that faith.

Has he suddenly gone soft? Of course not. But I refer you back up to the start of this article. Cardinal Dolan is now the most prominent Bishop in America. Everywhere he goes, there are reporters hostile to what he stands for, waiting to trip him up. I credit this clumsiness to sloppy staff work and a lack of preparation in balancing his evangelical and pastoral duties with precision and pithiness. He deserves much of the criticism he is getting on that score, but I am appalled at how many seem ready to toss him aside because of it – especially when it is primarily his efforts that have kept your own religious rights from being tossed overboard. Cut a good man some slack.

In the midst of this rose a controversy over the suspension of the cause for sainthood for the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Sheen was born and ordained in Peoria, Illinois but lived his major public ministry in New York. The Diocese of Peoria, which was managing the advocacy, announced the suspension of the cause because the Archdiocese of New York would not turn the remains of Sheen over to them. Initially, this gave Cardinal Dolan another black eye, making him look petty and grasping, preferring to cause the suspension of the cause of a beloved man rather than cooperate with another Diocese.

The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen

The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen

A few problems arose with that narrative, though. First, as it turns out, Archbishop Sheen had specifically requested that he be interred in New York. His closest living family members asked that their uncle’s wishes continue to be respected. Also, it is not necessary that his body be moved, for the cause to be continued – only that some first-class relics be obtained, which can be done without disturbing or moving the body. The National Catholic Register covers the dispute comprehensively and concisely. The Diocese of Peoria (which was once my diocese for a brief period in my itinerant political days) has done admirable work on behalf of the cause and borne much of the expense. But it unilaterally decided to shut down the cause in protest of New York refusing to give it the whole body – even though New York offered to be generous in sharing the first-class relics obtained. In short, it was Peoria which said, if it did not get its way, contrary to the late archbishop’s and his family’s explicit wishes, it would take its bat and ball and go home.

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky

I hope that Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky will call his people to order and eschew this brinksmanship. Work with the New York Archdiocese to promote the cause of a beloved son of both dioceses. If not, the New York Archdiocese will certainly take responsibility for advancing the cause alone. In this case, the only thing Cardinal Dolan has done is honor a notable man’s wishes, while trying to cooperate within the framework of those wishes. That is just flat-out honorable.

So, like all of us, Cardinal Dolan may be subject to lapses of judgment. But take care. If you flay him for his misjudgments, you need to remember you are flaying the man who has been the prime bulwark against the government crushing your religious liberty. Judge righteous judgment, as Our Founder once famously said. You could look it up.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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48 Responses to Cardinal Dolan Agonistes

  1. Nancy Davidson says:

    Thanks for citing the article in the National Catholic Register, making it possible to have the needed information to understand the situation more clearly. It is so unfortunate that the view that most people have of Cardinal Dolan’s actions (that they are petty and stubborn, uncaring) is due to the greater access to the more slanted, less researched and therefore less truthful coverage in the mainstream media as opposed to the NCR. The possibility of a fruitful compromise urges us to prayer for just that, since both dioceses and certainly most Catholics are wanting our dear Archbishop Sheen to receive the honor due him. May our good God, the Holy Spirit, bring it about, peacefully and speedily.

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  2. donna269 says:

    Charlie:
    Thank you for this beautiful article. Timothy Cardinal Dolan is often a victim of the main stream media and many Catholics must start to read between the lines (or preferably not read them at all). Catholic stories in the news are NEVER the truth but a vehicle for the evil one to lead many of our flock astray. If Dolan publicly stated he was doing this for the purpose of evangalization, this would have opened a Pandora’s Box for the gay community. He was in a difficult situation. Knowing what a beautiful Cardinal he is, I knew that was his goal… to welcome those into the flock that had gone astray. The shepherd willing to leave his 99 sheep to get the 1 who had been lost. I am tiring of those among our faith who think they know better than someone like Cardinal Dolan. I would never pretend to understand his job. Jennifer Fulwiler started a new radio show on the Catholic Channel and her first programming touched on this subject. We must know our place in the church. We will be judged harshly if we are instrumental in maligning one of Jesus’ precious ordained and we are wrong. There was nothing heretical here….just a huge misunderstanding propagated by the mainstream media and some “conservative” Catholic groups. I might add that some quasi Conservative Catholic groups may lead more people astray than the MSM with their constant criticism of the local hierarchy.

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  3. Chris says:

    Thank you for explaining this, I have been quite confused and troubled about these issues.I am guilty of judging Cardinal Dolan harshly out of my own ignorance and lack of proper investigation.Thank you for pointing us in the right direction so that I may be able to explain this to others when the subject of Cardinal Dolan arises.God bless you Charlie.

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  4. BJ says:

    what say you of his shoulder rubbing and hearty geniality with promoters
    of abortion, homosexual marriage ? …. he does appear to be very much at home
    with those powerful people who are the enforcers of the liberal secular social anti scriptural
    agenda and not nearly as interested in being seen with or speaking to/on behalf of traditional Catholic individuals and groups who are aghast at his public persona and camaraderie with Catholics and other politicians who make no bone about their intolerance of Catholic doctrines

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    • charliej373 says:

      I have said what I have said, BJ – and those “powerful people” you speak of loathe him because he was so deft in neither allowing them to marginalize himself so they could enact and enforce their abortion mandate and neither would he give ground on the right of religious freedom of conscience for all. I suggest you spend a little time in prayer for yourself. When I was in politics, several times organizations that were ever eager to denounce my candidate or me for being squishes – and in the nastiest of terms – suddenly found themselves in the spotlight of a public controversy. In EVERY case, they ran like scalded dogs when THEY were the subject of criticism. It was both pathetic – and amusing – to me. Is his spirited and deft defense of yours and my religious liberty to count for nothing now? I did not say he handled this matter deftly, but I tell you bluntly that the Master says that the criteria you use to judge others will be the criteria He uses to judge you. You surely had better have lived a blameless life, yourself, if you are going to be this quick to condemn him.

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      • BJ says:

        I simply asked you as a well known and respected commentator to rationalize Cardinal Dolan’s apparent coziness with the vanguardistas of
        anti Catholic/Christian basic moral teachings…. what are we,the often confused by mixed messages, to make of his apparent welcoming of professed active homosexuality (‘ bravo,good on ya… I would have no condemnation’) I didn’t expect to be told indirectly to be quiet/shut up… yes indeed, i can assure you I am a class 1 sinner, I do not need your spiritual wisdom/ guidance to realize that Charlie…. but also I am someone who is sincerely trying to understand the ‘actual’ Catholic church stance on these matters rather than the stated Catechism. I see the good Cardinal standing shoulder to shoulder and very at ease with influential purveyors of anti Catholic doctrines, and now being grand master of dear StPatrick’s honourable parade in front of organized groups who laugh in the face of Catholic doctrine … simply put, how can that be Charlie? ps: again, yes, I am a sinner who cannot point the finger at anyone… so spare me that lecture

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        • charliej373 says:

          My apologies then, BJ. I misread the tone of what you were asking. Your comment seemed very personally directed at his character rather than the difficulty of how to approach this difficulty.

          I think, maybe, the best way to try to answer is to note that St. Patrick spent quite a few years standing shoulder to shoulder with pagans in Ireland and got very at ease with them. St. Patrick figured if he was to have any chance of chasing the snakes out of Ireland he would have to…actually go to Ireland.

          I know of no effective evangelist who actually bore fruit who didn’t spend a lot of time in the opposing camp. The question is, what fruit does it bear – and what is the history of the evangelist. Cardinal Dolan just held a coalition of bishops together effectively not to be fooled into surrendering Americans religious freedom of conscience over to a hostile government. To do that, he spent a lot of time hob-nobbing with people hostile to the Christian agenda who busily tried to roll him. He was very jolly and gracious about it, but those forces were enraged that he would not be rolled.

          If we voluntarily retreat from even the things that are ours, just at the very presence of publicly hostile groups infiltrating, aren’t we helping those who oppose us do their job of confining us to an ever smaller ghetto away from public life?

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          • CrewDog says:

            I sure hope that this is more BS from the “Rev” but if true, Cardinal Dolan “Working With” an unrepentant Riot Inciting, Tax Evading and Fraud Perpetrating Racist will only cause more confusion and division amongst The Flock …. and more of The Flock “voting with their feet” as Laymen still have little say in The Church … I’m guessing that may change soon? ……… Sharpton has never brought Peace, Understanding or Unity!!
            “Al Sharpton Says He’s Now Working with Cardinal Dolan for NYC Unity”
            http://www.mediaite.com/online/al-sharpton-says-hes-now-working-with-cardinal-dolan-for-nyc-unity/

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          • charliej373 says:

            I hope so, too, CrewDog. I suspect Sharpton is just desperately trying to glom onto some moral authority. I would not stand on the same podium with Sharpton. He is the disgusting heir to Bull Connors and Lester Maddox of yesteryear. I guess every generation gets its very own incendiary racists.

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    • Kati says:

      BJ,

      I sense your sincere desire to speak in defense of our great Church here, but when you state, “he does appear…,” it reminds me that Jesus caused great consternation also by speaking with women, dining with sinners and tax collectors (among other things)…which must have had the same appearance to the people of His time. Somehow, when. like you, I feel myself *concerned* about members of the clergy (often forgetting that I should always consider the source: today’s media), I almost always remember the phrase from Scripture, “Touch not my anointed…” I learned this from a wonderful Evangelical woman who shared with me that this included using words which would have the effect of touching those leaders ordained by God. I also remember what my mother (in my opinion a supreme rosary warrior) told me about the great Saints who, even in difficulties, submitted themselves to the authority of the Church. Those two things have aided me in using my words carefully these days when speaking about those to whom Jesus gave the authority over me. I assure you that I did not always react this way as in my earlier life…my so-called ‘Irish” would get the better of me and my tongue would fly furiously. Yikes!

      Does this mean that I cannot ever speak up regarding what I see as wrongdoing? Certainly not! However, there is a process called for in Scripture that we should abide by before stating our thoughts on the matter to anyone else. If I remember correctly, it was the topic of our Sunday Liturgy last week (September 7th). It had to do with fraternal correction…wonderful wisdom of God.

      Most of the time now, if someone brings up negative remarks about our priest or bishop, etc…I can usually think of very positive comments to contribute and then suggest that we pray for them. In some cases it’s good to stop and encourage all concerned to pray in that exact moment. This can be done in a way that doesn’t seem pushy or holier-than-thou. We just ask the Holy Spirit to help us. 🙂

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      • BJ says:

        Kati…yes indeed I agree whole heartedly, and all I am asking for is someone who
        can rationalize the Church’s stated doctrine being apparently undermined by the Church’s
        representatives not standing publicly by stated doctrine… in fact who by their warmth towards
        those who hate church doctrine and actively promote legislation making church doctrine technically ‘illegal’ , cause great confusion in my sinner’s opinion

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        • charliej373 says:

          Alas, BJ, if Cardinal Dolan had contented himself with merely firmly repeating Church doctrine without acting in gracious ways that made it very difficult for a hostile administration and media to marginalize him, it is much more likely he WOULD have been marginalized, the coalition would not have held through the heat brought to bear, and we would have lost more religious liberty than we have.

          Some think the point of it all is to lose nobly and with fire. I prefer to see people who have the guts to prevail softly with finesse when it is necessary, to proclaim boldly and solidly when it is not and to, as it just said in Friday’s reading, “to be all things to all people that all might be saved.” I have said I do not think the Cardinal handled this with finesse and clarity – but I think the confusion and angst that has arisen is because he tried. I respect that. For failing to try in a culture that is already hostile is simply a formula for ultimate extinction. That is not what Christ meant by going forth and evangelizing the world.

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          • BJ says:

            i see the point you’re making Charlie and understand that the media is always waiting,baiting, baying for blood …. all the clergy need our constant prayers for it is surely horrendous pressure….indeed Pius X11 must have been in a very similar bind… I just wish we had a better balance of playing the diplomatic game yet not retreating one inch from basic doctrinal statements on social issues or at least an expectation of some comforting clarification for the frightened flock( sheep that I am) when apparent contradictions are out there( more and more frequently) yet not being addressed …. I still don’t understand, ‘bravo, good on ya, I have no condemnation’ ….. I fear that the church could be drifting towards an unstated yet definite accommodation with secular atheism and look around for confirmation that this is not so…. but can’t quite find it….. appreciate your patience and insight tremendously having come across your blog very recently

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          • charliej373 says:

            Thank you, BJ. I know it is very tough – and I know it is very frustrating when we do not sound clear signals from our leaders. I really do agree with you that this was handled clumsily at best – and leaves the position of the church unclear. More and more. we need to get more clarity of what we wish to accomplish and sound a clear voice. I do appreciate both the frustration of the faithful wanting clarity – and the frustration of officials trying and sometimes not succeeding – while at others succeeding and having their message distorted and perverted. I am trying to come up with some answers that will help all of us live our part while lifting up those who have another part and give them both strength and courage, while recalling to their minds their responsibility to give heart to the faithful. Thank you.

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  5. Audie says:

    Charlie, I’m glad you educated me on this about Cardinal Dolan. There is so much deception when searching for truth. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have reporters and many others always watching me, waiting for me to mess up. I will keep Cardinal Dolan in my prayers.

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  6. Joanne says:

    The Lord Jesus ate with Tax collectors, Prostitutes and sinners like ourselves because they were more in need of a Savior than the “Just”. HE said, I came to cast out demons, cleanse lepers, heal the sick, bring sight to the blind. Most critics don’t seem to realize that Cardinal Dolan is “leading” them, not the other way around.

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  7. Charlene says:

    Thankyou Charlie for your REMINDER for prayer for his Eminence Cardinal Dolan. I would also like to remind others we have many wonderful bishops, arch bishops and Cardinals who need our prayers who also pick their cross and follow behind Our Lord on His way to Calvary. One who comes to mind is Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone…..of San Francisco.

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    • charliej373 says:

      Oh thank you, Charlene. I much admire Archbishop Cordileone – and his courage in marching right into the lion’s den that is San Francisco. I will write a piece (an overdue piece) I might add, in how to engage in fraternal dispute with a pastor. They are human, but our goal must be to help lift them up and inspire them, for they are appointed by God to serve as captain and crew of the great ship of faith that will carry us safely through the Storm. If we get caught up in merely proving we are “right,” we have lost sight of the Face of Our God.

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      • Kati says:

        Fantastic! I can hardly wait for these writings (I’m including what you will share about prayer groups too) of yours, Charlie. Gee, in my excitement about all of this, I sure hope that we are not overburdening you with all the expectations. You are already doing so much. You can be sure, though, that we are praying for you and thankful to God for you. 🙂

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      • Charlene says:

        I praise God for your blog. Thankyou

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  8. Janet says:

    We are living in a mine-field. Never before has more information been instantly available, and never before has the truth been harder to extricate from the rubble. On top of that our society has idolized the “comments” button. That is no condemnation of what has been said on this or any other blog, but let us be aware that we are only ever seeing the surface of any issue. We need to ask ourselves, before we hit send (and I have learned this the hard way) if this issue is something we are qualified to judge, whether or not the Lord is calling us to enter into the discussion, and what role pride has in what we feel tempted to say. I have learned that if we concentrate on examining our own consciences and no one else’s we will be much better off. Then in all humility when we do feel legitimately called to express our views, we will be less likely to stumble.

    Come Holy Spirit of Truth and lead us to your eternal truth!

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  9. Diane Mello says:

    The burden of the armor we are to wear is, truth as a belt around our waist, breastplate of righteousness, sandals on our feet to spread the Word of God, carrying the shield of Faith to fight the devil and his talons, wearing the helmet of salvation to be open to receive Gods Grace, and carrying the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to sever and cut all strongholds and bondage set against us. It is not a breastplate of Self-righteousness – which is so easy to fall into at any given time. Put a seal on your lips and a prayer in your heart before you speak lest you judge unjustly. There is a lot of necessary chatter in the media and it can make your head spin.

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  10. Irish7 says:

    Thank you for defending Cardinal Dolan. It warms my heart. It reminds me of then Pope Benedict’s public display of heartfelt affection and respect for an embattled President Bush during his visit to the US. I was shocked by how quickly and venomously American Christians abandoned him. He had human failings and missteps as we all do, but I noticed that Christians joined in the shrill denunciation and mocking tone of the media and world while all the while he was bravely carrying water for our causes. We had a man who loved and served Christ to the best of his ability leading our country, and we arrogantly joined the complaining chorus of the world when we disagreed with him on any one or two issues. I have to think our current state of the office of the presidency is a direct consequence of our sin and pride. I see a parallel with the Catholics who are throwing stones at Cardinal Dolan…and for that matter the Tea Party driving out faithful Members like Coburn…but I digress.

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  11. Jim M. says:

    Charlie,

    I believe the concerns expreseed about Cardinal Dolan are not dismissive of his past leadership and efforts. To the contrary, the concern is magnified because of what he has done.

    I fully understand the viciousness and manipulative nature of the press. Thry abandoned reporting the news to morph into a gossip tabloid that now is the very eptitome of sanctioned calumny.

    We, as those who woukd destroy Cardinal Dolan, also pay attention to him. Think sbout it in these terms: our home team has a star player who impacts every game he is in. The concern is whether he will stay with the team when statements coming out of his camp indicate he might be injured, or looking to be traded.

    These reports were based on his words- not anonymous sources or hus antagonists. I kniw you have been a strong supporter if his, and you have provided ample food fir thought for those of us who are concerned.

    I think you were a little rough with a commenter or two here. Concern is not judgment. Neither is the obligation we have to keep each other on the right path. “You will know them by their fruits”.

    I think we have reason for concern here. If TD Dolan goes down in the 4th quarter, who will take his place? And the other possibility- what if you’re wrong?

    This begs for all of us to pray for Cardinal Dolan, and all our shepherds. Prsy that our Mother guides and protects them in these evil, confusing and ever darkening times. They need our Blesed Mother now more than ever. And we need our good shepherd’s, now more than ever.

    God Bless you Charlie! And all of your readers!

    Jim

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  12. Ruth Ann says:

    Janet, you are spot on! I consider myself a sponge at this point. Absorbing and contemplating.

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  13. chris says:

    I’m confused Charlie, is your position that Cardinal Dolan is a good Bishop who made a bad decision – by continuing with plans to be Grand Marshall of the parade. Or are you of the mind that he’s a good Bishop who made a good decision, but in a clumsy manner?? Maybe I’m not reading carefully enough, because I’m not sure.

    I do think you were too harsh on BJ, these things are very difficult to deal with. What happens when a transgender person comes to YOUR parish with his/her “partner” wanting “their” child baptised, and then they want to gather as parents at the rite and maybe even pose for pictures with their arms adoringly around each other as a “family”.

    Or what happens when parents bring a “transgender” child to YOUR First Communion Class and insist you call Billie “Susie”, and “Susie” is going to wear a nice white dress for his First Communion whilst his “two Moms” watch on, waltzing up for Holy Communion at the event.

    I used to think that these types of worst case scenerio questions were stupid and alarmist, but I don’t anymore. It’s coming, even to remote areas, not just big cities. Each bit of ground they gain clears way for bolder moves.

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    • charliej373 says:

      Well Chris, the second and third paragraphs of your comment suggest things that are clearly intrinsically disordered that we can all agree on. They call on the Church to overtly approve of things that cannot be approved. They really don’t fit the example of a Bishop to balance his pastoral and evangelical duties and garbling it. I do not take a specific position on what precisely he should have done – there are several acceptable courses. The key is that with solid preparation he could have taken any of these several courses with clarity and charity.

      Had I been advising him, the course I would have advocated for was to stay in the parade, stating that as modern culture tries to marginalize Christians to the sideline, we would not be now pushed out of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade – because St. Patty is our guy. My statement would have been along the lines of “While it does not disturb me that homosexuals should march in our parade, it does disturb me that they should march under a banner proclaiming that what is intrinsically disordered as not. I would protest as strongly if the “Fornication” society wanted to use St. Patrick’s Parade as a forum to advocate for what St. Patty specifically advocated against. But since the organizers have decided such an advocacy group must be included, I will pray that St. Patrick moves to change their hearts.”

      I understand several thought I was too harsh with BJ…and I thought of it as I wrote my reply. Back when I was doing secular radio, Planned Parenthood and some affiliates began a campaign to get me fired because my pro-life message was a big part of my secular program. Almost 400 letters poured into the station denouncing me. Do you know how many pro-lifers wrote in to defend me? Zero. I kept my job because I was the highest rated program on the air and we could charge premium rates for placement in my show. One day I had lunch with a woman in our newsroom – and was surprised to discover she actually was pro-life and very traditionally minded. She came across on-air as the typical modern woman, probably pro-“choice”…all the trendy things that do not avail. I asked her why she did not let that side of her show. She said, “Oh my, Charlie, you saw what they did to you to try to get you fired – and no one outside stepped up to defend you. You’re the big dog here at the station so you can do that…but the rest of us could not survive that sort of assault.”

      When all we want to do as Christians is form a heresy patrol, ever watching for any deviation or blunder to condemn, we pay a big price. Those who go forth to spread the Word know that the enemy is constantly watching, ready to attack. If you also know that your own followers will not publicly support you in any significant way when those attacks come – but will rip into you at the first sign of error, you get fewer and fewer people willing to stand for the faith. There is a time to dispute, even publicly, and a way to do it clearly, but charitably in a way calculated to build each other up. But far too many think they have done their duty by manning the “heresy patrol.” I realize there is a lot of frustration with leaders who have not lived up to their calling for us – and I do not stop hard criticism that is respectful and leaves room for grace and reform.

      Talk candidly, but with the same charity we are in such need of ourselves each day. For if we are miserly in giving that charity which we have received ourselves in such abundance, it will surely go hard with us.

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      • Irish7 says:

        I love this response Charlie!! Imagine the power for good that would be unleashed if Christians could get this right. I believe this model is the way forward to the coming true Christian unity/ecumenism. I’ve gained a lot from this discussion…I’ll be implementing Bev’s 5 book rule and Janet’s model of ‘caressing’ rebukes into my household. May we all be given the grace to trade in our heresy patrol badges for field medic experience and together bind up wounds in truth!!!

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      • chris says:

        Thankyou for clarifying your position and the course of action which you would have seen most prudent. I mostly appreciate your acknowledgement that there were “several acceptable courses” of action that the Bishop might have taken. I presume from that comment as well as the following dissenting piece that you linked to, that you might agree that pulling out of the parade altogether might be another “acceptable course” of action.

        If I read the latter link correctly, the author’s view that the Bishop should have withdrawn culminated with the reference to St Paul’s advice on not giving scandal to the weak in faith. I think he stated other good reasons earlier in the piece, ie the difference between the tax collectors and sinners whom Jesus dined with and the homosexual group now wanting to march, the former being open – the latter being antogonistic to the message.

        To tie in with my 2nd and 3rd paragraph of my previous post, please let me say that these events are seen as victories by the homosexual movement. And I believe these victories are not aimed at legitimizing their “love” so much as taunting Catholics with in-your-face disrespect. I believe each of these smaller victories emboldens them to push further. Where is the stopping line?? Who is going to put their foot down?

        Nevermind my previous “far-fetched” examples of the disorder coming to your local parish. What about this: sweet little Sally in your First Communion class, after months of waiting, has finally brought in her baptismal certificate and you find out “she” is a biological boy. Further, she has 2 moms, one of whom conceived by sperm donation. Or maybe her dad is now her mom. Take your pick.

        Now, what is the catechist to do? Nobody wants to penalize an innocent, yet mixed up child. Yet the parent’s behind the push may be just seeking a new conquest on behalf of the homosexual movement. And they may use the event to make a show of it. Yes, you can consult the priest and the Bishop, but as a person directly involved, the catechist also has a need to follow his/her conscience.

        If one is coerced, by the pressure of so many other apparent concessions given to the militant homosexualist movement, to bow to this circumstance, at what point does the whole thing collapse – I mean that any worship or honor that we are supposed to be giving to God cease to be worshipping or honoring to Him, as well as any good we are supposed to be doing for souls cease to be helpful and begin to be harmful?

        In case my expression is too muddled, the points I’m trying to make or reinforce are that it is highly unlikely that the Cardinal’s openness to marching with the homosexuals is going to make any positive pastoral headway considering the nature of the group, and that his course of action is likely just to further muddy the waters, advancing the homosexual cause, while confusing and disorienting us little people who don’t know what to think anymore.

        I guess you could call me weak in faith and easily scandalized because things are starting to seem like a bit of a charade by now. I’m doubting St Patrick is going to be the least bit honored by these shenanigans.

        Ps Sorry if I beat this subject to death, or expressed it in a crudimentary way. If I groom my writing too much, it just won’t happen.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Yes, Chris, I do think there is more than a single acceptable way to deal with this. Some would legitimately emphasize either the evangelical or the pastoral duty more. I could accept various calibrations of that. I am emphatic that we should not voluntarily quit the public square in most circumstances right now when that is the opposition’s prime goal.

          Right now though, we are on a hair trigger of recriminations. The faithful need a more certain trumpet to be sounded from their shepherds. The shepherds need to know that the faithful are doing more than looking for a reason to discredit them at the first sign of a mistake. We are in a downward circular spiral – and I know there is a better way to build each other up, to knit tighter the fraternal bonds rather than to fray them further. That will become an ongoing subject.

          You express a legitimate need – and some difficult circumstances. I had a very touchy situation some years ago when I was in radio. I was friends with a very prominent atheist. He had been on my show several times – and we had good, fruitful debates. But he loved a spectacle, getting some headlines. After one show, I knew he had left seriously shaken. He knew that I was a single father – and he and his wife had a toddler. He had questioned me in private encounters about Catholic doctrine and practice…and was rather surprised to find that any baptized Christian could perform a valid Baptism. He had told me his wife was Catholic – that she loved him but was troubled by his public advocacy and what that meant for their children.

          One day, he brought in his toddler daughter…said he could not get a sitter. On a break, he suggested that I could Baptize her. I was horrified and said he should know I would not participate in a cheap publicity stunt on something so sacred. He said that it troubled his wife a lot that their daughter had not been Baptized – and that he would feel okay if I did it. I absolutely refused to do such a thing on the air. On the last break before the extended newsbreak, he went to get a glass of water – which he did not touch. When the newsbreak came, he said he needed to go to the washroom and would I mind holding his daughter for him until he got back.

          I thought hard. It suggested to me that he was sincere. So I Baptized her. I later told my confessor, hoping that I had not sinned. He said he thought I had done well. My atheist friend, with an unusually refined sensitivity, told me before he left that he was going to tell his wife she should rest easy – and simply asked was there anything I needed to tell him that would suggest otherwise. He never made a spectacle of it, did not even insist on me telling him it had been done. But it was one of the most difficult and uncomfortable moments of my life – and I still was not sure I had done right even after my confessor told me I had.

          Difficult things will come. We all need to get the basics right before worrying too much about those. And then do the best that we can. As I said, it will become a regular subject here, hoping that we all can help each other find our way forward.

          Like

  14. Matthew says:

    I have heard from a number of reliable sources that the remaining members of the Sheen family were in total support of moving the Sheen’s body to Peoria until they got a phone call from Dolan.
    I think one of the take aways here for Bishop Jenky is that any time anyone promises you anything, even a prelate of the Church, get it in writing.
    On the St. Patrick’s Day Parade issue, even without the gay marchers, I think the Church should end all support. Why would we want to be involved in heterosexual drunkenness and debauchery.
    Eye of the Tiber has a great skewering of the new-found moral sensitivity:
    http://www.eyeofthetiber.com/2014/09/11/st-patricks-day-drunks-and-gluttons-afraid-inclusion-of-gay-group-at-parade-will-make-mockery-of-feast-day/
    Mattthew

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      A very shrewd comment, Matthew, that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have largely become drunken brawls…and that should probably have been reined in long ago. As for your reliable sources that promise that Sheen’s family wanted the body to go to Peoria (contrary to Sheen’s written wishes) until Cardinal Dolan convinced them otherwise…well, I don’t know Sheen’s family, so I can only go by what they told the reporter who interviewed them. But I do know, even in little statewide politics, I generally had to quash two or three rumors a week that came from “reliable sources” of what I had said – and I wasn’t even the candidate. So my experience has led me to be dubious about even the most reliable sources when they are reporting something that gives them the thrill of feeling they are consummate insiders.

      Like

  15. MM Bev says:

    Well, Chris, you have raised some thorny questions! If it was me, I’d run to my pastor and bishop first thing, maybe even now before the dread event could happen. Never hurts to have info in advance.
    For the rest, I am delighted with your blog Charlie, because I have heard or read (yup, even up here in Canada) statements that were disparaging of Cardinal Dolan’s actions or comments. This provides me with another view, a much appreciated one. I don’t “swallow” the first thing said, because I know without certainty that it’s a particular view being presented, often when there’s an inability to find another point of view on the subject. In our family growing up as kids, (all readers), my mother used to say that to have an opinion we had to read two books for, two books against, and one of our own choosing before we could form an opinion. Yup. Five books. Reduced the number of opinions we expressed but opened our ears around our parents because they followed the rule too.
    With regard to the St. Patrick’s Parade: It is my understanding that it was a student gay group who are being allowed entry. Not very long after that, a very militant, forceful gay group also insisted that they should then be allowed, and were told that all the spots in the parade were filled, and that they could apply again next year. Beautifully handled, I thought. Unfortunately, it has reached the point where what my mother said is true….even when it is the Catholic media that we are reading. I don’t think that there is maliciousness on anyone’s part, it’s just time constraints, getting out publication without sufficient time or lack of knowledge about the “how” of researching that can cause confusion and difficulty.
    If reading a certain source portrays only one point of view consistently, then an approach of caution towards that source must be entertained.
    And as usual, all of you have added so much worth thinking about. First we get Charlie, who leads the parade, and then all the rest following behind, with him keeping order. Wonderful !!!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      I like your parents method, Bev! It is similar to a method I have long used – that I used to call triangulation until the Clintons ruined that term for me.

      But in fairness, I am working on a piece on how to handle disputes in a fraternal way, rather than a fratricidal way. I hope to get it up tomorrow evening…and that may help us all. I want everyone to have their say. Not everyone thinks like me – and why would we need each other if we all thought alike? But I do get upset if I pick up either and explicit or implicit sneer in a comment directed at someone else. Make your case boldly and simply – but a sneer is not an argument.

      Like

      • Janet says:

        I just want to share with you something from my journal that has guided me over the years:

        Luke 17:3…If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “Beloved child much is said in this statement. Yes my child, you have an obligation to rebuke the sinner, but there should be no self-righteousness in your rebuke, only compassion and concern for their immortal soul. Ask my Mother to guide you in this, she whose rebukes were as gentle as caresses.”

        I love that last line. It is something I have pondered often, not to say I have always been faithful to that method, but I am usually sorry when I take a different route. May Our Lady guide us always to rebuke with compassion and charity.

        Like

  16. charliej373 says:

    Friends, I know I can get a bit puckish about certain attacks on public figures. I support vigorous debate, but I get crabby if a person is reduced to just their office, what they symbolize, a sort of thing. Please make your arguments so as to never lose sight of their humanity. I have worked with quite a few prominent public figures that always showed a brave face to the world – and have been with a few when they burst into tears privately at the cruelty with which people treated them like mere things – and real agony. Even worse, I have dealt with the grief of their families as they were trounced from pillar to post.

    Now, when you step up to the plate publicly, you need to steel yourself. You have chosen…and to paraphrase a famous deceased Chicago politico, public life ain’t beanbag. But as Christians, we can make soft arguments that rob one of his humanity – and we can make hard arguments that still acknowledge that humanity. I am comfortable with hard or soft arguments, only asking that we remember to acknowledge the very real humanity of the people we speak of.

    When my kids were little, they knew what a softy I was. Whatever the mischief was they got into, if they managed to make me laugh, the danger was passed. They got very good at it. But they also learned the one thing I would NOT tolerate – and they could not get out of, is if I caught them making someone feel less than…as if they were the child of a lesser god. There were kid fights and all that stuff and I took it in stride…but I react viscerally to anyone treating anyone as less than.

    Like

  17. MM Bev says:

    Charlie:
    Even when you think that you are making a “hard or harsh” reply, once we’ve mulled it over, looked at what we said, we realize that your “rebukes are as gentle as caresses” and that you are a softy side. Your life has forced you to gain more wisdom than most of us have. That’s why it’s your blog, you have to have gone through the really hard stuff, and we benefit….even if we don’t happen to like what you’ve said to us. Truth is truth. Anything less isn’t worth hearing-or reading. That’s why we keep coming back for more. The times ahead, and the information and advice you alone can give to us is really vital. This is the big leagues now. (Even if your reply comes in a private email.) What you say, blog or reply, we ALL need to hear, not just the person commenting.

    Like

    • Janet says:

      Well said MM Bev. Charlie, I appreciate all you are doing for us and have the greatest respect not just for what you are doing but for how you are doing it. As Bev said we all learn from what you say to each of us, and pehaps the rebukes most of all. May God continue to guide you in your mission for the benefit of all.

      Like

  18. LP says:

    Your children were lucky children. Kindness and respect are marks of those who are of Christ.
    “Be Kind – it’s hard being a person” 😉

    Like

  19. Irish7 says:

    It occurs to me that the root of our distress in these matters may be our pride/vanity. We are disagreeing with our leaders’ tone and emphasis not their doctrine. We are taking the hits within our workplaces, families, and communities for standing firmly rooted in the Faith, and we want our leaders to take the hits too. Moreover, we want them to give us a public high five for our courageous sacrifice and conviction. How humiliating that the worldly throng can now even use our leaders’ words against us. But can they really? Theirs is the voice of the angry mob that crucified Christ. Why do we pay so much attention to it? It is false and senseless and should not trouble us. A sincere seeker has easy access to the consistent teaching of the Church and these men. The confusion and manipulation surrounding their words is not a problem with the words themselves, but the spirit of the people receiving them. If they don’t have the Spirit of Christ within them, then it does not matter what they hear because they are blind deaf and dumb. If our leaders seek to penetrate these walls and speak directly to their spirits with a tone that tempts us to feel abandoned and undervalued…can’t we fight that temptation and join them in their seek and rescue mission? Are we really that fragile? Someone complained to me that Pope Francis’s change in tone on the abortion battle made sidewalk counselors feel hurt and undervalued. I understand that and felt briefly stung by his words myself. At the end of the day though, can’t we stand firmly rooted in our calling and receive our affirmation from Christ. Do we need to the public high five to validate us? What if we take the hit (like our Savior took the stripes on his back) for our brothers and sisters. We can choose to run out to meet our prodigal brother behind our Father and leaders or we can hang back and lick the wounds our injured vanity.

    Like

  20. CrewDog says:

    ANOTHER DOLAN LAPSE IN JUDGEMENT!!??
    http://www.breitbart.com/immigration/2015/07/30/with-apologies-to-donald-trump-for-the-crazy-nativist-rant-of-cardinal-dolan/
    Perhaps his Eminence has been spending way too much time palling around with all his pro-Abortion and pro-Gay-“Rights” New York Democrat Party types…. the Democrat Party Types that also believe, for obvious political reasons, that it is A-OK for the USA to surrender it’s Sovereignty, NOT defend it’s Borders, suspend it’s Rule of Law, expose it’s citizens to Crime, Disease and Expense during the slowest recovery since the Great Depression!!
    Yup!! I’m very concerned about the Pope’s USA September visit, who he “hangs-out with, the photo-ops and Media that will do their best to Spin St Francis as a supporter of godless liberalism … but … If Charlie be correct that The Storm will unfold and Pope Francis “leading” us into it, I will assume that he and His Eminence are playing out their roles as God directs. I just hope that their roles are that of St Peter and St “Doubting” Thomas and not that of Judas and Pontius Pilate!!??
    In any case! GOD WILLS IT for our eventual good and Salvation 😉

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Hold fast, CrewDog. All will be well – and I will voice my secure knowledge that Pope Francis IS the Pope of the Storm, chosen from all eternity by God Almighty for these times. I love my Papa and – whatever lapses in worldly judgment he may ever have, he IS the guy. I will state my firm conviction that Cardinal Dolan is a good and holy Bishop and man. I think he has been a bit garbled in how he handles some things, but I know he loves God and wants to rescue souls – and is courageous enough to keep at it despite any occasional clumsiness. They are both gifts to us in these times.

      Like

    • NancyA says:

      Do not worry overly much about who appears in photo ops with the Pope, nor who he hangs out with. Remember Our Lord? That was the very thing they held against Him. Maybe an encounter with the Pope now will be the spark that fans flames of conversion later. For those who are firm, those encounters will not dissuade them from the Truth.

      Like

  21. CrewDog says:

    “CDL. DOLAN SUED OVER GAY PRIEST SCANDAL”
    More “SIGNS” ;-(
    We have discussed Mike Voris and his Church Militant Site here before an most, like me, have mixed feelings about the Guy. Voris is no friend of Dolan … but …. if the below is true …I expect it is … the drip, Drip, DRIP of the powerful Lavender Mafia and it’s evil-n-insidious infiltration of the Catholic Hierarchy is still with us …….. and still causing massive damage to The Catholic Church and it’s God given mission to save souls!
    http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/damage-control-time
    The Storm is upon US in large measure ’cause The Faithful have remained silent, these past 50 years, whilst their Church has been overrun by satan’s useful idiots!!

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

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