YOU Are Welcome

YOU Are Welcome May 6, 2013

There was a protest outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue yesterday; I write about here.

In a statement, Joe Zwilling, the communications director for the Archdiocese of New York, says about the incident:

Yesterday, prior to the 10:15 a.m. Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a small group of individuals approached the Cathedral with blackened hands, as a form of protest in response to Cardinal Dolan’s blog post, “All Are Welcome.”

Although organizers have attempted to call yesterday’s events by another name, it is clear that they were trying to make a statement, had hoped to get media attention to spread their message, and were using the setting of the Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as their forum.

The group was politely told that everyone was welcome at Mass, but that they could not attend if they intended to protest with their blackened hands. The celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — the central act of worship for Catholics — should not and must not become the setting for protests or demonstrations.

Cardinal Dolan was on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, with dozens of seriously ill individuals, and was unaware of what was transpiring at the Cathedral. Any suggestion that he “denied” anything to anyone yesterday is, sadly, another distortion.

It would be our hope that, next Sunday, the individuals who protested outside Saint Patrick’s would instead find their way into church, either the Cathedral or their home parish, not to protest, but to participate in the greatest prayer the Church has to offer, the Mass.”

In others words: All are welcome, like the cardinal said, like the Gospel says. We are welcome to a Church that is not the Church of Anything Goes. It is not the Church of a God Remade in Our Image. It is a Church for sinners in need of a Savior. It is a Church that must tell the truth about Church teaching. It is a Church that invites the world to encounter Christ, to be flooded with the consolations and strength of His mercy and grace.

Incidentally, last year, my friend Karen Goodwin was over at Lourdes on a pilgrimage similar to the one Cardinal Dolan is leading. Hers was with D.C.’s Donald Cardinal Wuerl, as she battled a cancer recurrence. She wrote with the deepest gratitude– Eucharisteo — and a wisdom about healing as much more than a physical matter:

Was I healed? Most transformations occur over time. Epiphanies such as St. Paul’s on his journey to Damascus are rare, but however long it takes, the point of a journey to Lourdes is the same: a conversion of the heart more than a cure of the body. And some passage of time is usually required for either outcome.

When headlines are about contentious issues, we need to keep in mind the long — ultimately eternal — view, even as we live a loving zeal, moved by the urgency of our Gospel mandate to know and love and serve and share.

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