The Unwitting Compliment Paid to Cordileone and the Church

The Unwitting Compliment Paid to Cordileone and the Church March 19, 2015

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey is once again guest-hosting the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio, and this afternoon, around 3PM Eastern, I will be joining him to talk about many things, including Lent, and yesterday’s piece on the Archdiocese of San Francisco and what Frank Weathers calls a sort of Catholic Watergate.

I wonder, while we are on the subject, what sort of practical solutions might be available — and not available — in such a litigious age. Could a Cathedral supply a kind of tent or large lean-to for the homeless seeking shelter? What sort of liability might that incur, nowadays? And really is water enough — whether it rains down from heaven, or the financial district sprinklers, or a hired hand with a hose — to counter the health risks of human waste in public spaces?

About that piece: a lot of people jumped on me for “hammering” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, when in fact I made a point of acknowledging the suspicious timing of the “news” and my belief that the story was meant to diminish Cordileone’s moral authority at a time when he is trying to clarify and apply church teachings within his diocese.

My criticism was not so much for Cordileone (likely the rector had more to do with installing the sprinklers than he did, in any case) but for the idea that, when faced with the complicated challenge of keeping an area safe while also treating the homeless with dignity, they used a worldly method that “worked” for the financial district. Perhaps it did, but if we are keeping our church teachings in mind, it should have been obvious that it could not “work” for the church. And that was the point of the piece. When faced with questions about how to handle difficult situations, no solution can be the “right” solution, if it does not also satisfy our teachings about the dignity of the human person.

A friend noted that the financial district wasn’t being called on its use of sprinklers on human beings. The answer, of course, is they wouldn’t be. No one is going after the financial district about their sprinklers because they’re not the church. Nothing is expected of them, beyond cold hard cash.

In a way, we Catholics are paid a great compliment by society and the press — all unwittingly — when we are held to a higher standard than our institutions and governances, when they hold us, in fact, to the Christian standard, even as they routinely decry Christian standards.

They hold us accountable to our faith, even if they despise it. Some might see this as using our faith against us, and perhaps they think they’re doing that, too.

In reality, though, by holding the Church to “What would Jesus do?” the naysayers and critics are acknowledging that we are Christ’s and that being Christ’s is the better thing, the higher way, the more difficult, more humane process of being.

In their criticism they give witness to the Goodness of Christ Jesus and to the good works of the church, which are so dependable as to have become unnoticed and unremarkable, and which makes her mistakes seem so much more glaring.

Anyhow, if you’re free, give a listen to the show. Ed is always a great host.


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