Friday, August 24, 2012

Dolan to Tampa: A Selection of Reactions

And on to the equally humorous (?) (piggybacking here on my posting about monkeying around with Jesus): a smorgasbord of commentary today on the impending apparition of His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, pope of the Republican Catholic Church USA© (RCCUSA, or Recuse for short), at the GOP national convention.*  As I noted yesterday, His Recusant Eminence will be there to bless the doings after Romney is nominated--to give the final prayer and blessing to the whole shebang.  Reactions:

The de facto endorsement of the Romney-Ryan ticket by the Catholic hierarchy became close to authoritative yesterday, as the Cardinal Archbishop of New York accepted - in unprecedented fashion - an invitation to offer a benediction on the last day of the RNC, having gone out of his way to praise Paul Ryan as a "great public servant" whom he is "anxious to see in action." The usual practice is the local bishop for a benediction in his diocese. But the Romney-Ryan ticket persisted for obvious political reasons, argued for a big name Catholic, and Dolan, astonishingly, said yes.

 Michael O'Loughlin at America's "In All Things" blog:

The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics. For the church to be able to live out its role as prophet, it cannot be tied to one political party. Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case.

Tom Fox at National Catholic Reporter:

For a good number of Catholics - and not all of them progressives - the U.S. bishops have become adjuncts to the Republican Party. It is all quite sad. Dolan's move, be it naive or calculating, is not healthy for an already divided Catholic church.

Sarah Posner at Salon:

Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate was a clear move to bring religion—and in particular, religion other than Mormonism—to the center stage of the campaign. Placing the Bishops’ imprimatur on Ryan’s Catholicism, though, does something more: It solidifies a partisan partnership between the GOP and the Bishops, eclipsing Catholic social justice teaching with incendiary culture war rhetoric, whether American Catholics like it or not.

And from the preceding sublime comments to the ridiculous--Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter

Of course, a case can be made that the Democratic Party seems hell bent on making itself appear hostile to religion, cf. reaction to news that Cardinal Dolan is going to pray at GOP National Convention.

Yep.  That's precisely what I think when I see His Recusant Eminence lumber into a room: Religion has arrived!  Religion has just walked into this room.

Prepare to hear the Word.  Make room to receive the Lord.

The breathtaking stolidity with which Michael Sean Winters equates members of the Catholic hierarchy--and, characteristically, Timothy Cardinal Dolan--with religion pure and simple, is stunning.  Winters's supreme confidence that Timothy Cardinal Dolan somehow sums up religion--that Jesus is somehow incarnate in Timothy Dolan and the Word of God walks into any room into which Dolan sets his foot--absolutely bowdlerizes the Catholic tradition that Winters claims as his stock in trade to defend.  To defend for the rest of us Catholics.

Sarah Posner is right to point to where the GOP idolatry of the current leaders of the U.S. Catholic bishops (and the fatuous idolization of those same leaders by significant spokespersons for American Catholicism these days) leaves "us Catholics" on whose behalf folks like Winters claim to speak.  It leaves us with leaders and intellectual spokespersons who have gutted the very center of our Catholic tradition, which insists on our obligation to view our society first and foremost through the eyes of the poor.  

It leaves us high and dry, with those who assert their right to define our Catholic identity and speak on our behalf betraying that identity in the most egregious ways possible, as they shill for the super-rich and claim to be doing so in the name of religion and of God.  If the bishops succeed in their swing-state strategy of tipping the fall elections for the Republicans (and there are strong prognostications that they will succeed), they will not only produce serious suffering for many people around the globe by consolidating the power of economic elites who do not and never have had the poor in mind.

They will also leave increasing numbers of American Catholics religiously and spiritually bereft, since there can be no home for those of us who cherish Jesus's solidarity with outcasts in a church whose teachings and values are exemplified by people like Timothy Dolan, Paul Ryan, and Michael Sean Winters.

*I'm shamelessly borrowing from Colleen Baker at Enlightened Catholicism here, though she uses the phrase to refer to Cardinal Ray-Ray Burke.  And she's right to apply the papal analogy to him, I think, given his enormous influence behind the scenes in the Vatican--though I think it can be extended to His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan as well.

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