From Under the Rubble…Cheering for the Wrong Team

“I’ll tell you what I think God thinks of the
Affordable Care Act. It’s a big Amen!”

–Political Commentator Ed Schultz

It’s not uncommon for the left-wing MSNBC to lead the cheers for President Obama. But it’s all too common, and more than a bit unsettling, when a Catholic bishop joins in the jubilation – especially when he’s the most well-known Catholic leader in America.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has just finished a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal Dolan is the most public face of the U.S. Church. He is amiable, often jovial, and occasionally candid in spite of himself.

When Cardinal Dolan appeared on Meet the Press the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the host, David Gregory, got right to the point, asking about Pope Francis:

“He said, ‘We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.’ He talked about there being too much obsession within the church about talking about those issues. You have said there’s nobody to the right of you on some of these doctrinal issues. Is that a problem for you, that he believes that?”

Cardinal Dolan’s answer is revealing: “Not at all,” he said. “I gave him a standing ovation when he said that…. I don’t know if it’s so much the church is obsessed with that, it’s the world that’s obsessed with those things… They’re always asking us about it. I look at myself, David, in my almost 37 years as a priest, rare would be the times that I preached about those issues.”

Pause to read that again. Rarely in his priestly life has the most prominent Catholic prelate in America preached about the objective evil of abortion, homosexual acts, or contraception. And he brags about it!

Cardinal Dolan is not alone. For years, many priests and bishops of his generation have avoided teaching the moral truths of the faith – as he himself attests.

In March 2012, Cardinal Dolan told the Wall Street Journal that for nearly half a century – “since the mid- and late ‘60s” – bishops had been “gun shy” regarding the Church’s teaching on chastity and sexual morality.

The faithful are hungry for it, especially the young, but “We’ve had ‘laryngitis,’” he says.

Well, the results in. Today, it’s hard to see any difference between Catholics and non-Catholics in the statistics on divorce, contraception – even on abortion.

The Bishops on the Bus

Here another question arises: what have the bishops been doing, then, if they haven’t been teaching the fundamental truths of the faith regarding sex, marriage, and the family, as articulated so beautifully in Humanae Vitae?

Fortunately, Mr. Gregory addressed that.

But unfortunately, the answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: instead of teaching tough, unpopular moral truths to a society that is sunken in prurience and perversion, the bishops have been preaching partisan politics.

When Gregory asked Cardinal Dolan about Obamacare, Dolan sounded somewhat indignant.

“We, the bishops of the United States, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal healthcare,” he said.

So what’s wrong with Obamacare?

It doesn’t cover illegal aliens, said the His Eminence. And the HHS Contraception Mandate violates the conscience rights of Catholics.

Everything else in the bill is fine, he implied.

“So,” he continues, “So that’s when we began to worry and draw back and say, ‘Mr. President, please, you’re really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we’re not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders.’”

Cheerleaders? Our bishops want to be “strong” cheerleaders for the most pro-abortion president in history?


Cardinal Dolan didn’t tell the rest of the story. He didn’t explain that it was also around 1919 that Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore and President Woodrow Wilson forged an airtight alliance between the Catholic bishops and the Democrat Party that has lasted to this day.

Cheering all the way.

Cardinal Dolan and his brother bishops might not have been preaching about fundamental morality for the past 50 years, but they have brayed nonstop in their support of the Democrat party’s welfare-state agenda.

(Of course, it would have been just as bad if they’d allied with the GOP. Lumen Gentium says that political particulars are the laity’s concern – period).

Yes, the bishops have been powerful Democrat cheerleaders – in spite of that party’s fundamental requirement that every Democrat everywhere support abortion rights.

(A Caveat: many priests I know considered Cardinal Dolan’s remark about their “laryngitis” to be an insult. “I’ve been teaching and preaching Humanae Vitae for the twenty years I’ve been a priest,” one says. God bless him!)

My priest friend is not afraid to be unpopular, and he is not alone.

But Cardinal Dolan is very popular. And so is Obama – especially among many bishops.  Bishop Wilton Gregory, Dolan’s predecessor as president of the conference, lauded Obama’s election in 2008 as “a great step forward for humanity.”

Minus the unborn humanity, we assume.

In the run-up to the 2012 election, Cardinal Dolan welcomed Obama to the prestigious Al Smith Dinner in New York. Diocesan Catholic papers nationwide carried the picture of the cardinal, laughing it up with the most anti-Catholic president in history. Not a discouraging word was heard.

Well, maybe lapdogs aren’t supposed to bite.


Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon has remarked that, since the abuse-and-coverup-scandals, the credibility of the bishops has been “shredded.”

Well, popularity and credibility aside, isn’t Fortitude a Cardinal (ahem!) Virtue?

Perhaps Cardinal Dolan and his brother bishops can take a cue from a saint.

In 1994, Mother Teresa spoke to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Bill and Hillary Clinton were there, looking very uncomfortable.

She didn’t try to get a laugh out of them.

“What does God say to us,” she asked.

He says: ‘Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.’

We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption – by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child – but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said. ‘Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.’ By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.

Go ahead, Your Eminence. There’s your new speechwriter.

Plagiarize her! In public – especially when you get together with all your political chums!

Even cheerleaders don’t have to be jovial glad-handers all the time.

Perhaps you can make up for those decades of silence.

True Charity Is Christ Incarnate

Not all the nuns are on the bus, financed by anti-Catholics and cheerleading for the welfare state. In fact, only two of them are, fawning in media adoration.

Meanwhile, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity are quietly serving the poor in over one hundred countries.

They don’t have a fancy tour bus. They walk.

Mother Teresa was once asked, whether her sisters were social workers.

No, she replied. We adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for hours every morning, and then we go out all day to find Him in the gutters of Calcutta. Social workers can’t do that.

Neither can Obamacare, Your Eminence. Please hang up the megaphone.


This article, From Under the Rubble…Cheering for the Wrong Team is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

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Christopher Manion

  • Janet says:

    “Everything else in the bill is fine, he implied.”

    But it’s not fine to you, right, John? Nor to me. But have you ever suggested an alternative? I haven’t seen one in the forum. Because we need health care reform. Who among us does not have family, friends, neighbors, who have no health care insurance? Their lack is due to many factors, not the least of which is that they can’t even pay cash for it because providers refuse to quote prices for those without insurance who would be happy to pay but who can’t or won’t hand over a credit card or blank check, which is what is required in many hospitals before they will admit those without insurance or welfare. Bishop Dolan is not entirely incorrect in his support for Obama’s legislation. Not entirely. Mostly, I’ll grant.

    But again, do you have any actual alternative besides a return to the status quo before Obamacare?

    I do, myself. I propose a protestant/Catholic coalition third party, like FIDESZ in Hungary, with a program to put God and Christ in our constitution, along with protection for life from conception to natural death, and then a single-payer system, accompanied by a push for fertile family support (Jonathon Last has a pretty thoughtful platform in his ‘What to Expect When No One’s Expecting’) and, at the same time, a push for religious orders in medical care.

    Now, my suggestion will perhaps bring a smile. How dumb can you be, right? An American religious state! But the really ridiculous are those who rage and rant, and yet offer no alternative whatsoever. Just like Muslims. Easy to talk revolution, but when they get Egypt, turns out they’re running on empty.

  • Is he also supporting Common Core as do a number of brain dead bishops?

  • Janet, I just want to note that one can point out a fallacy of a system or product and have no alternate solution to the fallacy of the thing being proven false (i.e. obamacare in this case).

    There seems to be a common belief today that someone can’t point out a flaw without providing a solution. That is wrong. We all know murder and genocide are wrong. We all mainly agree the holocaust is wrong. The argument that someone pointing out the fallacy of the ACA is somehow diminished because the person noting the fallacy has no alternative to the ACA is equivalent to saying that the argument against the holocaust is flawed because someone didn’t provide an alternate solution to eradicating jews….

    Yes, I am equating the ACA to a greater evil. It is harming people as we speak, creating a lack of care, destroying jobs and preventing the sick from obtaining care which will lead to death.

    Also, more harm may be done by assuming the fix to an unfixable problem requires more fixes. Sometimes that leads to worse outcomes and ends than the status quo. This notion that we all must have a credible fix to the unfixable in order to debate the matter is a false construct and a tool to stifle dissent and discourse.

  • Bob McKenna says:

    Excellent piece, Dr. Manion! It reminded me of the remarks made by Peggy Noonan to a gathering of Bishops in Washington, in September 2003. The Bishops had previously met with a Liberal group (but didn’t announce it), and a little pressure made them agree to meet, subsequently, with a Conservative group, which included Peggy Noonan.
    Her recollection of her remarks were contained in a WSJ column a week after the meeting, and can be read by clicking on this website (or copying and pasting it in your browser): She took the Bishops to task on several issues, and one that had to hit home especially hard was this:
    “Conservatives in the church often feel that they are regarded, and not completely unkindly, as sort of odd folk, who perhaps tend to have a third hand growing out of their foreheads and tinfoil hats on their heads. We say, “Please, we must speak more as a church about abortion,” and church leaders say, “We may possibly do that after issuing the report on domestic employment policy.” We ask the church to teach Catholic doctrine, and they point out that the press doesn’t really like the church. We ask them to discuss the pressing issues of the moment, such as cloning—we’re entering a world in which industrial fetal farms may grow replacement people for replacement parts—and instead they issue new directives on how it would be better if people sang songs during the mass after communion, and hugged each other instead of shaking hands during the moment of peace.”

    She even furnished the Bishops with some good advice (which none apparently took to heart):
    “I said the leaders of the church should now—“tomorrow, first thing”—take the mansions they live in and turn them into schools for children who have nothing, and take the big black cars they ride in and turn them into school buses. I noted that we were meeting across the street from the Hilton, and that it would be good for them to find out where the cleaning women at the Hilton live and go live there, in a rent-stabilized apartment on the edge of town or in its suburbs. And take the subway to work like the other Americans, and talk to the people there. How moved those people would be to see a prince of the church on the subway. “They could talk to you about their problems of faith, they could tell you how hard it is to reconcile the world with their belief and faith, and you could say to them, Buddy, ain’t it the truth.”

    God Bless you and The Bellarmine Forum!

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