“As the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan has said the White House policy is ‘strangling’ the church...Despite his differences with Obama, Dolan held to the tradition of inviting the president because ‘this is not a partisan event,’ Zwilling said. ‘It is an evening to put politics aside and come together in a spirit of civility.’”
-Rachel Zoll, Huffington Post
"When this story of the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner first came to light my first thought was that the reporter had his facts messed up. I thought, 'There's no way Cardinal Dolan invited him!' Then came some disbelief, then an out loud, "What?!?" when I learned it was true."
-Excerpt from Hartline's letter to Cardinal Dolan
A letter to Cardinal Dolan by Jennifer Hartline
Jennifer ia a Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three children. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. This letter is brought to you courtesy of Catholic Online.
Dear Cardinal Dolan,
Well, you've had an interesting week, haven't you? I thought rather than talking about you I'd talk to you. Who am I? Nobody special, just a daughter of the Church. Just an Army wife, a homeschooling mom raising three kids, and an American citizen who's very worried about her country.
You, on the other hand, are a breath of fresh air for the Church in America. You are the embodiment of the courage, enthusiasm, joy, and faith we need now more than ever. Your election to the head of the Bishop's conference was music to my ears. It gave me great hope in many ways. God has not forsaken us here in the U.S.A., even though we've forsaken Him. He has given us you in this critical hour. I know I'm not alone here -- any Catholic who's paying any attention at all is grateful for all you've done.
I want to thank you for the leadership you've provided. I want to thank you for having a spine. Thank you for your forthrightness and fidelity. Thank you for fighting and defending and teaching and admonishing and for doing it all with your unbeatable smile. You're a big bear -- part teddy and part grizzly. It's exactly what we need, so don't ever change.
When this story of the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner first came to light my first thought was that the reporter had his facts messed up. I thought, "There's no way Cardinal Dolan invited him!" Then came some disbelief, then an out loud, "What?!?" when I learned it was true.
The firing squad quickly took aim at you, and the Catholic blogosphere was soon crackling with a lot of angry Catholics who could not fathom why our Church leaders were inviting the worst President in history to dinner.
In my own small circle, I tried to encourage folks to take a deep breath and not rush to join in the condemnation. Cardinal Dolan, I said, has never given us a reason to doubt his strength or his loyalty. Let's give this a chance and see what comes of it.
But I have to admit, I don't like it any more than they do. I think the whole thing kinda stinks.
The man sitting in the White House does not behave like a President, so I won't call him that. He wants to be king, and he acts like a tyrant, so from now on, I will refer to him as the tyrantking. He is the enemy of life and freedom in America. I don't think anyone can dispute that assessment. I think he is a wolf who barely bothers to put his wool on anymore.
He is the enemy of Catholicism, as far as I'm concerned. He uses the Church to cover his behind and give his evil policies some sort of legitimacy, thanks to apostates like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, and thanks to the inexplicable Fr. John Jenkins. (Why is he still the president of a Catholic university, by the way??)
After this last year and the all-out assault he has waged on religious freedom and the child in the womb; after his pathetic and manufactured "war on women" that revolves around contraception; and after all you have said and done to stand up to him and lead the Church in the battle to defend what is right, why why why do we have to invite the guy to dinner for drinks and a few laughs??
As of this moment, Catholics in America must decide whether to violate Church teaching and their own conscience, or whether to disobey the HHS mandate and risk their business and livelihood. The war is ON, and we're gonna tell jokes and have a good time with the tyrant behind the oppression? Seriously?
Your Eminence, please tell me you have an ace up your sleeve. Please tell me there's more to this that the rest of us just don't know about yet. Please tell me you haven't taken leave of your good senses.
In my head, the conversation is going something like this:
Cardinal Dolan is no idiot. True. This ain't his first rodeo. True again. He's certainly no Obama sycophant. Very true. He must have a good reason for doing this. I sure hope so. But c'mon, really? Are we suddenly no longer fighting for our lives against this guy and his evil policies? Exactly... This will end badly with one opportune photo, and Obama will milk it for all it's worth right through the election. Yep. Okay Jesus, I trust in You. Please prove me wrong about this.
I'm waiting anxiously to hear what your thoughts are about this whole mess. Please reassure your worried sheep that you've looked at this from all sides and all is well.
I beg you, please promise me that you won't gift the tyrantking two weeks before the election with a snazzy picture of you with your gregarious smile and him with his cocky grin. You know that's what he wants -- a snapshot to tell the country, "See? I love the Church and they love me! There's no problem here! Vote for me!"
Your Eminence, we all know the stakes could not be higher this November. The last thing we need is to allow any confusion at all about the reality of what the tyrantking is doing to annihilate religious freedom in America. Now is definitely not the time to muddy the message about the Church's opposition and resistance to his mandates and his abortion-obsessed agenda.
The hidden blessing in all that Obama has done so far is that is has ignited Catholics and other people of faith and brought a unity that wasn't there before. We can't afford to squander that now. But surely no one knows that better than you.
You are the Cardinal, not me (obviously). You're not where you are by accident or stroke of luck, but by the design of our mighty and loving God. I respect your authority, and even though I don't see how this will end well, I choose to believe the best of you and your decision.
I humbly ask you to reconsider. I will be praying that God gives you keen insight and wisdom, as well as courage to fight the good fight. Don't be afraid to change your mind. But if you believe strongly it's the right course of action, I know you'll stand your ground, even if sheep like me bleat on and on about what a colossal mistake it could be. I'll be delighted to eat my words.
I'm sure that's the big difference between you and me. You're a shepherd. Your job is to seek lost sheep and lead them home. Maybe your heart's desire in all of this is a chance to try once more to get a certain very lost sheep to follow a different road. Most days it's all I can do to just wish him well and want him gone from the White House. This "love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you" stuff is crazy, you know?
Maybe you are, too. Crazy like a fox. I guess we'll find out.
In the meantime, lead the way, Smiling Cardinal. I'm still with you. With respect and gratitude.
Sky View comments:
ArchBishop William Lori addressed the General Assembly of Bishops on November 16th, 2011. The topic was religious liberty. By recalling the words from Ezekiel, he called upon his brother bishops to be watchmen: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 33:7) A watchman, as Pope St. Gregory the Great said, is a preacher who always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. In ages past, wolves were chased away from the pasture by the Church's watchmen. But it "appears" that in 2012- when the nation's future is at stake, as well as the Church's religious liberty -that the wolves are being invited into the pasture in the name of diplomacy.
The Fathers of the Church are held up to us as model shepherds. If this is the case, then those who are no friends of religious liberty ought not be allowed to step foot in a church or cathedral or any event hosted by the Catholic Church.
Let us learn from St. Ambrose of Milan, a Church Father and bishop in the fourth century, who publicly withstood Roman emperor Theodosius II at the cathedral door. It just so happened that the emperor had not yet repented from a serious sin. But after the saintly bishop pushed him away…away from the entrance, the Roman emperor yielded and did public penance.