I was going to write my post on the North American Martyrs today (and I probably still will later on… but you know how I am about keeping those sorts of promises), until last night when a friend asked me to share my thoughts on Cardinal Dolan’s inviting President Obama to the Al Smith dinner.
Since this is a touchy subject for many people, I hesitated to write on the topic. I changed my mind, mostly because I could not think of a good way to answer my friend in 140 characters or less (so you can imagine what social format we were using). And now that it’s all over and done with, I think there are a few good points we can take away from it.
I’ll start by saying that criticizing Cardinal Dolan is well above my pay grade. The times I’ve tried, somewhat naively, to empathize with his decision to continue with long-held custom and invite both candidates to the dinner, I found that others were less inclined to think nicely of the Cardinal for what he had done. After all, he’s suing the guy. Just forget about any aims at diplomacy, let alone the possibility of civil discourse at this point.
You know, the way I see it, I can’t speak for the Cardinal or suggest what the real Christian thing to do would have been. You can’t deny that inviting the President was a kind gesture — not to be taken as an olive branch or an endorsement, but at least as a way to give the man an early “going away” dinner, which is just what it might have been.
That’s right, some people were hearing a swan-song last night, and It wasn’t the Cardinal’s.
Besides, if the event had not gotten so much publicity over the controversy, many Americans would not have even noticed this:
Fortunately, a lot of people did notice it. Providential, right? Nobody could have foreseen this as an ample opportunity to give the public another sample of the two candidates’ demeanor or a clear reminder of what has been going on during with the debates these past two weeks (and this time without any media interference).
Speaking for myself, just because maybe I can’t see what good could possibly come out of inviting the president, does not mean that some real good could not come out of it or that the Cardinal did not see what good could come out of it. And that’s a point I think we all need to consider. Some of us — just speaking for myself here — are not in a position to judge what sort of thinking goes into making these types of decisions at these levels. God did not put me in a diplomatic position, thank God, so maybe I just don’t know what good diplomacy is. I’m sure some people fully agree with me on that point.
One thing is for sure. It is over and done with. What good came of it is good (and what bad, bad). Perhaps, as time wanes on and other important issues come to the fore, certain prominent Catholic lay people will stop attacking the hierarchy for not doing what they think should be done in the Church. That would be a good thing, seeing as how the bishops in this country have made a great effort to combat the HHS Mandate ON OUR BEHALF and many have spoken out recently on voting in good conscience, the sins of abortion and gay marriage, and things to take into consideration before receiving communion.
Okay, so they have not stepped up to some people’s desire to publicly excommunicate people we don’t like. Personally, I’m glad that only a few people have the privilege to invoke that power, and that they don’t wield it like a squirt gun.
Now that the event is behind us, some people (Catholics), who know better than I do, will have less of an opportunity to attack the Church’s bishops. Maybe now Michael Voris will find something nice to talk about, for a change. (For those of you who are fans of the Vortex, that’s all fine; I am not, for precisely that reason).
At this crucial moment, I think it would behoove us more to stand united with the bishops who have been leading the charge to protect our religious freedom. Since none of us are anywhere near being in the Cardinal’s position or making the types of decisions he has to make (call me naive for saying that), I would like to suggest that we give the Cardinal the benefit of the doubt, and let’s move forward together.