Cardinal Dolan has been receiving some stick from Catholic bloggers for continuing to engage with President Obama and the Democrat party. These neo-Donatists want the cardinal to shun the Democrats and cast them into the outer darkness.
In the 4th century the Donatists sought to make the Catholic Church pure by casting out all who were compromised by idols and sin. They went from parish to parish beating up those they judged corrupt, priests, elders and lay people. St. Augustine and the Catholic Church rejected Donatism as a heresy because it denied the mercy and healing forgiveness of Christ. St Augustine and the Church didn’t deny that the victims of the Donatists had committed grave sins, but they knew that the duty of the Church was to offer the opportunity for sinners to renounce their sin and be reconciled with God.
Some Catholic bloggers are in danger of becoming neo-Donatists in their violent, intemperate attacks on Cardinal Dolan, President Obama and the Democrats. They want Cardinal Dolan to slam the door of the Church shut in the face of the president. St. Augustine shows us that this is not the Catholic way. In our own time, Blessed John Paul II’s visit to the prison cell of Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who attempted to assassinate him, shows the right approach to those who seek to harm us and the Church. If John Paul II can meet Ali Ağca, Cardinal Dolan can have dinner with President Obama.
In response to the outraged howls that greeted the news that President Obama, along with Mitt Romney, had been invited to the Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner Cardinal Dolan explained his quandary:
‘For seven decades, the Al Smith Dinner here in New York has been an acclaimed example of such civility in political life. As you may know, every four years, during the presidential election campaign, the Al Smith Dinner is the venue of history, as it is the only time outside of the presidential debates that the two presidential candidates come together, at the invitation of the Al Smith Foundation through the archbishop of New York, for an evening of positive, upbeat, patriotic, enjoyable civil discourse. This year, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accepted our invitation. I am grateful to them.
The evening has always had a special meaning, as it is named after Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic nominated, in 1928, as a candidate for president, who was viciously maligned because of his own Catholic faith. Smith was known as The Happy Warrior, because while he fought fiercely for what he believed was right, he never sought to demonize those who opposed him. And, the dinner named in his honor is truly life-affirming as it raises funds to help support mothers in need and their babies (both born and unborn) of any faith, or none at all.
Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. ’That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgement: Would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?”’
What convinces Protect the Pope that Cardinal Dolan is right to engage with President Obama and the Democrats is his determination to seize every opportunity to speak the Gospel of Life to power. President Obama will not be unaware that the Al Smith dinner raises funds to help support mothers in need and their unborn and born babies.
Again, Cardinal Dolan’s prayer immediately after President Obama’s speech to the Democrat Convention was for God’s blessing on unborn children. The Cardinal also prayed for the defence of religious liberty, taking the Catholic campaign into the heart of US political power that seeks to constrain religious freedom. He also prophetically challenged those who would destroy the inherent meaning of marriage through legalising homosexual ‘marriage’.
Here are some extracts from the Cardinal’s prayer:
Cardinal Dolan’s prayer on protecting the unborn:
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.
Cardinal Dolan’s prayer for religious liberty:
We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love.
Cardinal Dolan’s prayer defending marriage from its homosexual re-definition
We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.’
It is imperative that Catholic bloggers continue to question, criticise and challenge all those who reject the truth about God and man and seek to harm the Church. Sometimes this demands hard words because the threats are so great, but we must never forget the mercy of God and the equal imperative to love, expressed through civility and dialogue.
Here’s the text of Cardinal Dolan’s prayer:
With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:
Let us Pray.
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.
We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.
We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.
We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.
We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.
And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.
And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.
For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”
So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.