Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mr. Dolan and His "Pro-Life" "Moral" Crusade: Shell Games, Moral Leadership, and $55.6 Million

As the U.S. Catholic bishops continue their "moral" crusade to protect "pro-life" values against ObamaCare, it might not be a bad idea for those trying to keep the conversation honest to hold the following observation I wrote earlier today in the forefront of their minds:

Official Catholic teaching notwithstanding, Mr. Dolan is far more closely connected to Wall Street and its (male, affluent, socially elite, Republican, and white) leaders than he is to the significant body of Catholic teaching which suggests that structures like Wall Street might be at the very center of the problems that are tagged as the "culture of death." 
And this is clearly why he saw no problem in choosing the Wall Street Journal to mount a political attack against ObamaCare that purports to be all about attacking the "culture of death" and promoting "pro-life" values. 

Mr. Dolan is leading the "moral" crusade against ObamaCare as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  And so as we assess his fitness to lead such a "moral" crusade, while we're paying attention to his exceptionally cozy ties to bankers and other members of the Wall Street elite who are not in any way imaginable "pro-life" in the Catholic sense, it might also help to take a look at what Jason Berry is now reporting about Mr. Dolan in National Catholic Reporter.

Berry reports that before he left Milwaukee, where he was archbishop before he jumped up to New York (where he's now cardinal-in-the-making), Mr. Dolan did the following: he "renamed" $55.6 million in diocesan assets to remove them from the books in a shell game designed to pave the way for the diocese's decision to declare Chapter 11.

Just as it appeared that archdiocesan officials were nearing a point where they'd have to reveal in legal depositions what they knew about cases of abuse of minors by diocesan clergy . . . .  The transfer of the $55.6 million designated for the care of Catholic cemeteries from the balance sheet of the diocesan ledger allowed the archdiocese to take bankruptcy, impeding the attempts of victims of childhood clerical abuse to seek legal redress against the archdiocese.

Keeping the public moral conversation in American Catholicism honest: this shifty wheeling and dealing with money in order to shield diocesan officials from deposing about what they knew vis-a-vis abuse of minors is not the action of any admirable moral leader about which I've ever heard.  How about you?  Do you know of admirable moral leaders capable of wheeling and dealing in this breathtaking way with $55.6 million of church money, pitting dead Catholics against living Catholics who have endured sexual abuse by priests when they were children?

What Mr. Dolan did in Milwaukee may certainly be the action of someone close to Wall Street officials and Wall Street lawyers who wouldn't turn a hair as they employed this shady, dishonest fiscal maneuver.

If we're going to keep the Catholic conversation about the bishops-vs.-ObamaCare honest right now, however, how can we possibly avoid looking at the real lives and real actions of the real bishops who are leading the moral crusade vs. ObamaCare?  I don't see how we can do that and call ourselves honest.

Though I imagine many Catholic intellectuals and media arbiters who have gladly lined up behind Mr. Dolan in his current "pro-life" "moral" crusade against the Obama administration will be perfectly capable of ruling these real-life questions out of the conversation.  Since real-life questions just don't seem to count for the intellectual elite running the media show for the bishops in the American public square . . . .

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