Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Reactions to Dolan-Kurtz Election: Left, Right, Center, Faces of American Catholicism

More reactions to the elections of Timothy Dolan and Joseph Kurtz as president and vice-president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference:

This is the full text of Tom Reese's commentary, emphasizing the bishops' "tilt to the right," which I mentioned in a posting yesterday.  And here's another perspective viewing the election of Dolan-Kurtz as a victory for the vocal right wing of the U.S. Catholic church, by Susan Jacoby, a non-Catholic looking in from the outside.

And two predictable spins from the center (which is to say, from those who hob and nob with bishops and who tell us benighted outsiders what we should really think, and would really think, if we, too, dined with prelates): John Allen and Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic ReporterAs with Pope Benedict (and here), Mr. Winters is "a huge fan" of Timothy Dolan.  And as I read that statement, my mind boggles, when I try to put together being a "huge fan" of this bishop and having any understanding of or commitment to one's gay brothers and sisters, given the deplorable records of Bishop Dolan and Kurtz in the area of including and welcoming gay Catholics.

Dolan hosted the meetings that produced the odious Manhattan Declaration, which attempts to keep alive the culture-war attacks on gay and lesbian human beings for the political gain of the Republican party. Watch the clip of the interview with Dolan embedded in Reese's article to which I link above.  Note his attempt, right out of the neocon playbook of Robert P. George that forms the basis of this document's attack on gay and lesbian persons, to root a one man, one woman definition of marriage in the DNA of human beings! And then try to tell me this is a man of whom one can be a "huge fan," and still claim to have any concern at all about the inclusion and welcome of one's gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.  

And then there's the "huge fact" that Dolan led the highly politicized resistance among the U.S. Catholic bishops to the Obama administration's health care reform bill, with bogus (just as bogus as Dolan's bogus DNA meanderings) charges that the bill extends and pays for abortions--a charge that Dolan and other bishops making it have never tried to prove.  Because they can't do so.  And there's the "huge fact" that he was one of the leaders of the movement to censure Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to be its commencement speaker last year.

And re: Allen's commentary, as I frequently do, I find more light in the responses to his observations than I do in his text itself. I'm with Rachel when she writes, "Phooey...just more right-wing Church politics ad nauseam...electing a noisy glad-hander just covers the real problems."  And I'm with Sarto, who says, "Well, whatever. As an old priest, I long ago got out of the habit of watching bishops and worrying about Rome. I expect very little and am usually not disappointed."

Even so--even though I find these intra-ecclesial, insider discussions of what Bishop Q said to Bishop Z as the brandy and cigars made their rounds beyond tedious--I do think that the recent election of Dolan and Kurtz bears watching.  It signals the continued willingness of the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic bishops to listen far more intently to Catholics of the right, even when those Catholics represent a minority (but a powerful one, in which men of wealth and power are disproportionately represented), than to Catholics of the middle or left.  

This election represents the continued decision of the Vatican and U.S. Catholic bishops to let that powerful minority of highly placed and wealthy Catholics of the right keep calling the shots for American Catholicism.  Look at who's crowing about the Dolan-Kurtz victory, and you'll see what this election means for American Catholicism and its future: there's Bully Bill Donohue of the Catholic League; there's Robert P. George, the eminence grise of the American Catholic right (quoted in the New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein to which I link above); there's Jeff Mirus of, who uses the election results to bash Bishop Gerald Kicanas for his "sympathy towards homosexuality in the priesthood," etc.

As my mother never tired of reminding her children, be careful who your friends are.  Whoever they are, you'll come to be identified with them.  When I want to know the measure of someone's character, I listen to that inner voice of my mother, and I look at his or her friends.  And as I look at Dolan's cronies and friends, I'm not edified and not hopeful about the future of U.S. Catholicism.

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