Why Didn’t Cardinal Dolan Walk Away from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade?

Why Didn’t Cardinal Dolan Walk Away from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade? September 22, 2014

I’ve shared some of my thoughts on the matter previously here, with a bit more in my syndicated column this week.

I’ve certainly got some push-back for suggesting there might be some pastoral wisdom about it.

Where’s the wisdom? In love.

Tom Hoopes at Benedictine College offers very practical advice about that here.

Tom isn’t writing about the parade but the same-sex marriage debate, such that it is. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but highlight this:

In the end, we need to face the facts: There are loving, intelligent, sincere people who believe that marriage is okay for two people of the same sex.

Fine. But we will need their help to limit the definition in a meaningful way.

Most people think marriage is a couple thing, but same-sex advocates increasingly see no problem with polygamy. Also: Not many people favor “open marriages” as a model, but these are a common result of homosexual marriage. And maybe you heard about the two heterosexual buddies that got married to get Rugby tickets. That’s not marriage by anyone’s definition.

If this expansion of the definition of marriage continues unabated, marriage will quickly become meaningless — making help for the struggling couple more remote than ever.

Where can we start to make progress? We have to look for openings. We have meet people where they are –- those peripheries Pope Francs keeps talking about. We have to be the doctors and nurses of the field hospital. Our churches have to be beacons of a Heavenly home to them.

That’s what I believe is behind a whole lot of what we hear from Cardinal Dolan in some of his popular media interviews. I think that’s what we hear from Pope Francis many a day. It’s not surrender on important issues. It’s an invitation to Christ.

Sometimes we get so used to being on a side (whether it has to do with political realities or ecclesial traditions) that we forget how to invite people to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

The only side our lives should be focused on is Christ’s. Bringing people to the waters gushing from them in his Passion and death on the Cross. There is healing there. And how ever deeply, even desperately, do we need the healing!

And Tom’s bottom line in “Five Things Catholics Need to Start Saying in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Before There Is No More Debate” is where the Holy Spirit may be leading so many Catholic communicators today: “Catholics need to discuss same-sex marriage a little more from the heart, while not shutting down the head.”

I love his first bit of advice. He says:

Let’s start saying, “I’m sorry.”

Catholics don’t hate persons with same-sex attraction. But we sure might have seemed like we do at times (as these folks experienced).

This business of reacting poorly to others whose lifestyles we disagree with has been an issue for us before. We were accused of hating the divorced; we were accused of hating those living together out of wedlock; we were accused of hating women who had abortions.

In some cases, our behavior towards each of these groups has been atrocious: Just ask Mother Angelica as to being a child of divorce. In many other cases, we have lived up to our highest virtue: charity.

Let’s [s]ay, “I’m sorry we came across as haters. We accept you with respect, compassion and sensitivity — just like the Church tells us to, like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis have shown we do. We want to love unconditionally, with a love that doesn’t run through a filter of moral judgment first. Forgive us for the times we haven’t.”

When I’m at Catholic Voices USA sessions, I talk about approaching people with a penitential posture. American culture hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed with inspiring faithful witness throughout the public square in recent decades. In that context, you can’t send people to the Catechism and simply expect them to believe. We have to show the joy of the Gospel and we have to love people.

And apologize for what we have done and what we have failed to do. As the pope greeting the world asking for prayers and is ever talking about mercy, let’s do the same. Go to people and see them and let them see us.

Share what we know and love. Be confident in the faith! Do so respecting people’s freedom.

Trust in Christ. This can only be done if we spend time with Him and ask Him to show us His Way in every way.

Love — people we agree with, people we don’t agree with, people who have never given us a second look, and people whose choices we may not always understand.

It is no breaking news that this is a time of insatiable intolerance, often masking itself in language of tolerance. It’s the air we breathe and it infects not only how liberals talk to conservatives and vice versa, but even interactions with typical allies. I see this on social media. I see this in how people react to bishops on some of these contentious issues.

As a friend of mine put it to me: It’s not a Corpus Christi procession. Cardinal Dolan is no more endorsing what particular NBC employees do when they go home from the St. Patrick’s Day parade as he does the young (and not so young) men and women who have been known to spend their post-parade hours getting “wasted.”

This is just all a long way to say: Let’s pray for one another more. And let’s give on another a little room to be, as I heard Fr. Robert Spitzer recently put it, “be clever for Christ.”

Pray it is so?

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