A Culture of Piercing Wounds

I wish people listened to Cardinal Dolan’s Catholic Channel Sirius XM radio show like they watch The Voice or The Today Show — or whatever the top rated shows are these days. It’s an hour, so it affords him more time than a sound bite, a quote picked up in the New York Times — or even a homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Yesterday, he talked about a New York Times story Monday about a fund the Archdiocese has been paying into, since the days of John Cardinal O’Connor, that covers some of the same things the federal government is now about to make them cover for all employees. While the circumstances are different — this is a story about union power politics that the archdiocese felt it simply couldn’t win, not government tyranny — you can guess where the Times went with it, trying to dismiss the Church’s voice in the religious-freedom fight that most of the country still thinks is about taking birth-control out of women’s purses.

The reason I wish people heard him on the show is because –- as I touch on in this post on National Review Online — his tone was not of a media savvy spinmeister bishop trying to fix bad press — it was of a pastor who himself was scandalized by the whole thing. And this, I might add, is a man who has seen some of the worst, having been assigned to priest abuse and reforms in St. Louis and Milwaukee.

The scandal was not in being exposed by the New York Times, for this was something he knew about and had previously publicly indicated was the case.

He sounded as if this might be what he takes to the Blessed Mother in prayer: That in recent decades people in the Church have contributed to the problems, have contributed to the culture of death, sometimes unintentionally. Please walk with me, walk with us, as we bring Christ’s healing to this world — and His Church.

Let’s face it, we all have contributed to problems. Missed opportunities and harsh words are just the beginning and part of it. Unnecessary divisions. Open opposition to Church teaching.

Giving in.

That’s not to say Cardinal O’Connor did anything wrong here: the giving in that happened was “under duress,” seeking to keep real health-care services from being interrupted, and a bishop’s temporal cultural and political powers aren’t quite what people seem to think they are, as we’ve seen. Laws hostile to conscience and political client politics (some of what Jay Cost writes about in his book, Spoiled Rotten) in the face of unions and the abortion industry make doing the right thing near impossible.

But as Cardinal Dolan pointed out, if you give in, it won’t get better, it will get worse. The moral of the story in the New York Times Monday is: You’ve got to stand your ground.

There is so much more to say. The bottom line is we need to be authentic always, and help one another on that journey. And the last decades should make us try harder and be purer and love more. That’s how we change the culture. That’s how we make lives better. That’s how we are better. That’s what the world needs.

Pray for courage. Pray, period. That’s part of the problem, now, isn’t it? How many of us who consider ourselves faithful Catholics don’t pray? How many of us aren’t for real?

It’s an hourly thing. Let’s help one another be for real today. Let’s learn from those who have done it — holiness is possible!! — and witness the Christian difference with one another.

And pray for our priests and bishops. It’s hell out there. And we need self-sacrificial heroes. Perhaps you are one. Thanks be to God.

How about we all pray this prayer to the Sacred Heart today? For mercy and love in Christ Jesus, overflowing from our Church, outpouring to our culture.


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