Cardinal Dolan Does Not Judge?

In a television interview Cardinal Dolan of New York was questioned about a professional football player coming out as a homosexual. His words are:

“Good for him, I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don’t think, look, the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us, well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, ‘Bravo.’”

A word of caution: what has been released is only a taster clip. It is very possible that this clip has been taken out of context and that the Cardinal explains his comments in more detail and is more nuanced when we see the whole interview.

On the face of it, the Cardinal, like Pope Francis before him, is correct. We do not judge people. God does. However, the Cardinal, like the Pope before him should be aware that “Who are you to judge??” is one of the big screams of those who have no objective morality. “Who are you to judge?!” is one of the rallying cries of the moral relativists. Therefore when a Catholic leader says, “Who am I to judge?” those with no objective morality take it as a victory.

When a religious leader therefore asks, “Who am I to judge?” they may be right theologically, but wrong pastorally.

The Cardinal is an able communicator. Why would it be so difficult for him to say in his usual robust and jolly way, “I do not judge Michael Sam. I don’t know the state of his eternal soul. I don’t know the state of his love life. I wish him well. However, I can say that homosexual actions are intrinsically disordered. They go against nature. I can also make judgements about their consequences. There is a higher risk of disease and health problems among those who are active homosexually–especially those who are promiscuous. We don’t judge a particular person, but we can make objective moral judgements about particular actions and their possible consequences.”

That’s not very difficult to say and most people would understand it. The problem is the homosexual lobby have increasingly been unwilling to acknowledge the distinction between a person and his action. For a long time there has been a move to identify a person by their sexual behaviors. Many homosexuals want to be identified as “gay” “lesbian” or whatever. Once a person is identified by their sexual choices making judgements about their behavior becomes a judgement on them personally.

To judge a person by their sexual choices is a grave wound to the human person. We are all greater than what we do with our reproductive organs. What if we were to extend this thinking to other behaviors and say, Miriam Weeks (who has the nom de porn of Belle Knox) was a “porn princess” and that not only was the name for her occupation but also her personal identity. What if a serial murderer were forever known only as “murderer”? The popular press do this all the time, but as Catholics we insist, “No. A person is more than their actions–for either good or ill.” We acknowledge the dignity of each person. A criminal is more than the crimes he has committed. A person is more than their sexual choices.

The homosexualist may well reply that he has not chosen to have same sex attraction. He had that attraction from the beginning. But those who would make excuses might say that a voyeur was a furtive peeper since childhood or that a psychopathic banker may plead that he has loved money from the first moment he had a piggy bank. Despite prevailing inclinations and drives beyond our control we still have choices to make about our behaviors.

The Cardinal’s interview was a chance to explain the distinctions between behavior and personhood. Let’s hope when we see the full interview he explains more than the taster clip has revealed so far.

 

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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