Archbishop Dolan concedes he’s bothered by criticism of his invitation of the president to the Al Smith dinner. Mark Silk at RNS dismantles some of the giving-scandal concern.
My sense is that the word “scandal” has a particular meaning. In the theological and moral context, it does not mean “stuff I disagree with,” as defined by rabid pro-lifers and other ideologues. Professor Silk cites Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic tradition in suggesting that if a person is scandalized by another person’s good behavior, other moral qualities (such as envy) may be involved in the so-called scandalized. It seems that everybody needs to not only step back and take a deep breath, but conduct an examination of conscience.
On NPR earlier this summer, I recall Bishop Leonard Blair was bothered that Sr Pat Farrell and the LCWR declined to define themselves as pro-life in exactly the way the politicos want. This is sort of what’s happening to Archbishop Dolan here. He’s the LCWR. His pro-life critics are the CDF and Bishop Blair.
Perhaps it is possible for a person to embrace full moral goodness and live the anti-abortion message 24/7/365. At some point a certain radical standard cannot be met. Do political pro-lifers skip meals, decline to watch tv, get less sleep, refuse entertainment, and become hermits in order to further the cause? If someone is criticizing the Al Smith dinner, can other activities of pro-lifers be fair game? Things like walking the dog, sipping a coffee, taking a vacation, or sending one’s children to college? Because that’s where the logical approach will find this line of thought, when taken to extremes.
I feel badly that Archbishop Dolan is feeling the heat on this. But I’m not at all surprised. Anger has to go somewhere. And many of my otherwise fine brother and sister pro-lifers have allowed a basic good–the defense of human life–to color and cloud relationships. Not to mention obscure an even greater good than life. Faith itself.
I don’t feel badly, though, that the good archbishop is in good company with the Misunderstood. The LCWR likely would tell him to just take a number. His last word:
I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.
I’d tell the man this is about more than being a solo foodie. This strikes at the very heart of the SCGS* movement. Divide and conquer, it seems to me, and an attempt to get 1.2 billion Churches of one. Good army slogan, perhaps. Less so for the cause of the Great Commission.
* Small Church, Getting Smaller