Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frank Cocozzelli's Annual Coughie Goes to . . . Archbishop Timothy Dolan!

I love Frank Cocozzelli's annual Coughie award.  Frank created the distinction to "honor" an American Catholic who, in the vein of the rantin' and ravin' anti-semitic priest-cum-radio personality of the 1930s, Father Charles Coughlin, "best exemplifies an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith."  A true Coughie excels, in other words, at mimicking the toxic memes of the religious right, with its noxious mix of (right-wing) religion and (right-wing) politics and its underlying theocratic goals for the nation with the soul of a church.

This year's competition was stiff, including notables like Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, who has now added to his list of actions on behalf of Catholic values the removal of the title Catholic from a Catholic hospital in his diocese that, he claims, defied him by choosing a medical procedure which saved the life of a mother while terminating her pregnancy.  The hospital can no longer call itself Catholic, celebrate the Eucharist in its chapel, or reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel.

L'église, c'est moi.  I own the title Catholic, and you don't.  And the sacraments are also my unique possession, to be withheld from you like candy from an errant child, and dispensed to you when you prove as pliable as an obedient child.  

Never mind what Vatican II (or the New Testament, for that matter) says about the people of God or the priestly people, the body of Christ, in whom the Spirit resides everywhere and not merely among the ordained.  I am the church.  You are not: when I so decree.  This is the underlying message Bishop Olmsted and his brother bishops intend to send the people of God today.

Stiff competition, but the Coughie this year goes to none other than the newly elected president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference Timothy Dolan, for his recent spirited defense of fellow New Yorker and fellow religious-right activist Bully Bill Dohonue.  As Frank notes, in his defense of Bully Bill, Dolan fits the criteria of a Coughie--"an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith"--to a T.  Frank writes,

Archbishop Dolan is a rising star of the culture wars.  When  the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elected him as president, they signaled their intention to escalate the culture wars at the expense of economic justice, and push strident orthodoxy over inclusiveness.

This year's Coughie is particularly well-timed, since it comes on the heels of the recent disclosure of Bully Bill's salary as president of the Catholic League.  As James at Our Daily Thread notes,  Donohue makes some $400,000 annually to head a non-profit that is essentially a one-man show, and whose sole raison d'être appears to be to keep in the forefront of the consciousness of the American public the equation of Catholic values with Republican ideology.  

As James also notes, there's tremendous irony in the fact that Bill Donohue draws down a salary far out of proportion when it's compared with the salaries of similar non-profits serving human need, since he has worked extremely hard to undermine Catholic social teaching with its insistence that the needs of the poor ought to be first and foremost in all our political and economic decision-making.  In anointing Bill Donohue as a respectable and bona fide spokesman for Catholic teaching and Catholic values, Archbishop Timothy Dolan is clearly signaling to the American public and to American Catholics at large that the equation of Catholicism with Republican neo-conservative values--including callousness towards the poor--will continue under his leadership as president of the U.S. bishops' conference.

Meanwhile, the huge exodus of Catholics from the Catholic church, precisely due to this nonsense, continues unabated, and unaddressed by Dolan and his brother bishops.

No comments: