Cardinal Dolan's Response to the Al Smith Dinner Reaction Calls for Change
Smith was known as The Happy Warrior, because while he fought fiercely for what he believed was right, he never sought to demonize those who opposed him
The approach in the words and tenor of some of the articles, blog posts and commentaries on the Al Smith Dinner reflected a phenomenon I have referred to in the past as the "Catholic circular firing squad". It is too often present in this age of blogs, apps, social media and instant access to media. Some Catholics seem intent on figuratively shooting at other Catholics with hurtful words while the new Rome of a decaying Western culture burns around us. Such an approach not only violates our obligations in solidarity and charity toward one another, it can deflect us from our real mission.
NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - When Timothy Cardinal Dolan was elected to the Presidency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops I called it an historic turn of events and a sign of the Lord's continued guidance of the Church in the United States. I wrote in an article "Truly, God has not forgotten His people in the Church in the United States. This is a day for rejoicing!" I also said then - and repeat it now - the United States of America has become mission territory. The Catholic Church in the United States is in need of the "New Evangelization" and Cardinal Dolan is one of its greatest apostles and instructors.
This happy Cardinal of the Catholic Church is a wonderful instrument of the New Evangelization, a trumpet in the hands of the Lord. He is a dynamic and inspiring communicator and solid teacher of the truths as taught by the Magisterium of the Church. He is a true leader, both naturally and supernaturally. People are drawn to him because they are drawn to the One who is alive within Him, and ministers through him, Jesus the Risen Lord.
He is always willing to contend with those who are hostile toward the Church, but always does so with velvet gloves and a heart filled with the desire to introduce them to the Lord and insert them, through the waters of Baptism, into the Body of Christ - as his brothers and sisters! He confounds his opponents with Truth and wins them over with the Love of God. He also never excludes anyone from the possibility of conversion, even the president of the United States.
Some within the Catholic blogosphere and on social networks responded to the news that both the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Presidency were invited to speak at the annual Al Smith Dinner on October 18th. The blogosphere heated up with some rather uncharitable words over the invitation even being extended to Barack Obama. The spokesman for the Archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling explained, "It is the tradition of the Smith dinner to invite the presidential candidates in the presidential election years in the spirit of nonpartisanship, good humor and good fellowship." However, the controversy would not go away and took on a life of its own.
I understood the concern over this President's attendance at the banquet. After all, he has shown hostility toward the Catholic Church, has not respected religious liberty, is an ardent opponent of the fundamental human right to life and refuses to defend marriage against horrendous assaults. However, what was truly disheartening to me were some disparaging and denigrating comments directed toward the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, by some Catholics.
This man is a champion of the Church and a light in an otherwise dark moment in our Nation's history. He loves the Lord and the Catholic Church he serves with an infectious enthusiasm borne of a sincere, living Christian faith. He is comfortable in his own skin, at ease with the use of the media, filled with the Holy Spirit, and eager to share the Gospel which is found in its fullness within the heart of the Catholic Church.
No matter where an attack or a challenge comes from against the Church, this gutsy but gregarious Bishop goes out to greet them and does not back down. He is fearless. He is precisely who we need at the helm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in this critical hour. He does more than defend the Church, he proclaims with confidence that she bears the saving message the whole world needs to hear. He extends an invitation to everyone to find their home in the Church which is meant to become the home of the whole human race.
The approach I saw reflected in the words and tenor of some of the articles, blog posts and commentaries on the Al Smith Dinner reflected a phenomenon I have referred to in the past as the "Catholic circular firing squad". It is a sad reality, too often present in this age of blogs, apps, social media and instant access to media. Some Catholics seem intent on figuratively shooting at other Catholics with hurtful words while the new Rome of a decaying Western culture burns around us. Such an approach not only violates our obligations in solidarity and charity toward one another, it can deflect us from our real mission.
I present below the response of the Cardinal from his wonderful blog entitled "the Gospel in the Digital Age". I hope it will bring an end to this entire matter. It should also lead to some serious reflection within the Catholic community which uses the great treasure of the new media in our joint task of the New Evangelization.
Until I read this response I was not aware of the fact that Al Smith was called the "Happy Warrior".In my own writing concerning Cardinal Dolan, I have used the phrase to ...
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