For those of you who haven't been following, let me summarize in brief. Cardinal Dolan has given what I consider to be a poorly reasoned, condescending and annoyingly folksy rationalization of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade, which will now show the children along the route a group of "gay Irish" marching under a banner identifying themselves as such. Dolan rightly points out that we condemn the sin, not the sinner - and of course gays have been marching in parades for centuries (though not parading about as gays). He wrongly points out that if a man or a woman marches under a Gay Pride banner, it's merely a way of indicating his or her sexual identity, and is in no way an endorsement of the sins that such a sexual identity seeks out.
I countered with an Open Letter to Cardinal Dolan in which I asked to march under the banner of IRISH ADULTERERS. I point out that, even though the sin of adultery is condemned, and even though I have not given in to consummating fully the temptations of adultery, I still consider this my sexual identity and the Church should not judge me for that, and certainly by marching under a banner in which I identify myself as having an inclination to adultery, I'm not endorsing adultery. Heavens no! I'm simply Proud of my inclination. I simply identify with my temptations. I could have said more. I could have suggested groups marching under such banners as GREEDY IRISH EMPLOYERS, or LAZY SLOTHFUL IRISH DRUNKS, or IRISH CHILD MOLESTERS. I mean, we can't judge a child molester's soul, only his sins - although if Dolan is affirming anything in this scandal, it's that we are defined by our sins.
So that's our story so far. And the general take on this situation is that Cardinal Dolan is a naive fool.
Today, however, Kevin Tierney comments on the Dolan Situation at Red Cardigan's blog (my emphasis)...
This is one of those theories that fits all the facts - which means it's probably true.Maybe we have to consider the unpleasant possibility that His Eminence knows exactly what he is doing, he is not the fool, and that these are conscious choices.Too many events have happened in Dolan's history to suggest naivete or [foolishness]. There's something else at work here.No, it's not him being a heretic, modernist, or whatever you want to say. Plain and simple, Dolan is a careerist. All of his controversial decisions from the Sheen dustup, to his role in the abuse scandals, to Holy Innocents, to now the parade have been about what's best for the bottom line ... his bottom line. What advances his profile is what is best for business.
Of course, I must insert a caveat: to acknowledge the truth of a person's character is not to judge that person's soul or his relationship with God. That's not our business, and we are not to do that. But to trust a man like Timothy Dolan, to hope from him adherence to Catholic principles, especially when the pressure's on or the chips are down, to expect him even to teach or to administer with any conformity to Christ, after he's shown us again and again what he's made of, is to be a dupe.
But why is it so hard for us to admit this?
We know how all of the original apostles failed in their loyalty to Christ. We know of the lack of sanctity in various bishops throughout history, and how many, then and now, are simply scoundrels. We know, if we haven't shut our senses to it, that most bishops aren't even Christian enough to protect Catholic teaching, the Holy Mass, or the safety and innocence of children in their own dioceses. We know they lie. We know they are often narcissists filled with grandiose self-importance.
By the same token, we know that the Church tells us to expect this. We know that the Church tells us that the Holy Spirit protects the Magisterium from teaching error on matters of Faith and Morals, but gives them free reign - without protecting them from error - to be a witness in other ways either to their love for God or to their love for their own sorry selves. God has never prevented any of us from sinning, and the grace conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders can be tarnished and peed on like the grace the rest of us are given to follow Christ every waking moment of the day.
But bother us it does. And this is hard to admit or to comprehend. The leading prelate in America - the most public bishop of the Catholic Church in the United States, who is a cardinal and who should be, by virtue of his position, a role model - is a careerist who is more interested in pleasing men than in pleasing God. See Gal. 1:10, where St. Paul says - emphatically and with emotion - that to do this is to cease to be a "servant of Christ".
So he's a careerist. There are worse things that can be said of a man. There are worse things people could say about me. There are worse things I could say about you.
But this is a tragedy all the same. It's not even a tragedy, for a tragedy (in the literary sense) requires nobility of character and high aspirations gone wrong. This, then, is not tragic. It's pathetic.
I wrote yesterday of our unwillingness to face the facts, to see plainly the darkness in our own hearts or in the hearts of people in whom we've placed our hopes, people in whom we have a vested interest. Of course, there's an opposite danger, which is rank cynicism, and which is giving yourself over to the demagoguery of Catholics-with-a-schtick like Michael Voris, who make a career of bishop bashing and playing to the most brutal element in our souls.
But if we are anything, we Christians, we are men of truth. And the truth will set us free, even the ugly truth. And having the leading cardinal in America be a careerist who sells out his fidelity to Christ any chance he gets is certainly an ugly truth.
I am told that in Roman days, the laity would turn their back on prelates like Dolan in public, refusing to look them in the eyes.
That would be the worst thing you could do to a careerist - and also the most charitable. Such a move might even prod him to repent.