A friend was kind enough to send me a marvelous article that takes a different view than I do on the matter of Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. I want to link to it here because I think it such a marvelous example of how such dissent should be expressed.
Written by a lawyer named James M. Thunder, it covers all the bases. There is no hint in the piece that Dolan has suddenly become a an apostate sellout. It fully recognizes that he has both an evangelical and a pastoral duty – and that it is a difficult balance to find. It presumes that the Cardinal wants to do the right thing. Yet, it takes a very different direction than Cardinal Dolan has taken on the matter.
The piece offers a clear, coherent view, expressed in confident terms. It explains why the author would choose this course – and covers his take on how, precisely, that balance of responsibilities should be calibrated. One need not agree with its conclusions to be enriched by its clarity – and to further clarify one’s own thinking on the matter.
Above all, it treats the Cardinal as a real person trying to do well in a difficult task. It assumes his humanity and good will. That, I think, is an assumption one should make until there is strong and abundant evidence to the contrary. This is the sort of dissenting piece I often made sure my clients saw so we could discuss the points it made – and further clarify our own thoughts.
That is the key, I think. We need to live solidarity and try to lift each other up. For all of us, we struggle with tough things in our daily life. Sometimes we do well – often we wish we had a do-over. People in the public eye are not different, just in the public eye.
I have written before that we will be held to account for every person we could have given effective witness to but did not because of anger – and that we will be held to account for everyone of malice that we could have defended the faithful from but did not because of fear or a false sense of ‘tolerance.’ It is an impossible task – and one we will fail at regularly. But we need to keep it in mind. It is best to try to put ourselves in others shoes as much as possible, in our minds at least, if we are going to give valuable counsel. For you folks old enough to remember the early days of the TV show, “Saturday Night Live,” sadly, the ‘Jane, you ignorant slut’ style of public discourse has become the norm rather than satire today. We, who are Christian, must do better.
Here then, Thunder’s marvelous dissent.