Friday, March 21, 2014

My Response to A Comment Regarding Cardinal Dolan

Charlotte B left a comment on my post dealing with Cardinal Dolan's "bravo" comment.  The post is HERE. Below is her comment, with my responses in blue.

I came here from the blog of Elliot Bougis and after reading your conversations with him on the blog.

I want to, out of Catholic charity, point out some problems in your reasoning. 

1) You assert that the Cardinal's comments are fine because none of the prominent gay news outlets seem to think positively or have noticed it. 

But this is a misunderstanding on your part. The fact that the Cardinal gave some bad advise/comment does not suddenly become neutral advise or good advise depending on how the people react to the comment. If anything, you should be thanking God that they did not use his words to further justify sinful acts.

Just as me blaspheming is a bad thing regardless of whether someone gets offended or picks up on it, bad advise is bad advise regardless of ones reaction to it.  

It is your opinion that it is bad advice.  Cardinal Dolan was most definitely not condoning the sin of homosexuality. He made that clear in other parts of the interview. But he said we are told by the Bible that we are not to judge. The gay community knew exactly what Cardinal Dolan was doing. His point was not to condone homosexuality but to not condemn an INDIVIDUAL about whom he knows nothing, and by doing so, the worst that can be said is that he overcompensated. It is amazing that so few Catholics can understand this. 

2) Jesus acted like Cardinal Dolan in the case of Adultery

Here there are lots of misunderstandings.

You claim that the Adulteress did not show signs of repentance. Well, does the gospel describe her attitude to you? That she seemed pretty obstinate about carrying out her adulterous ways and had identified herself with a community that is out to justify the act of adultery around the world as a good thing? All I see here is you reading back your own views in to the gospels. 

There is nothing in story to indicate that the adulterous woman had repented in any way. This is a story of great mercy shown by our Lord who refused to condemn a sinner.  Cardinal Dolan who, as stated, made it very clear in the rest of the interview that he does not condone homosexuality, nonetheless showed mercy and compassion to an individual trapped in this sin.  As I have written, the gay community got this message loud and clear. Many Catholics, who are suppose to be channeling the mercy and love of Jesus Christ to the world, seem totally unable to understand this great message. 

You do the same with the thieves during the crucifixion. 

You need to expand on that.  Just making a statement as  you have makes it impossible to respond. What have I read into the story of Dismas that is not there?

Yet, you also forget the positive examples of public rebuke by St. John the Baptist of Herod. You are forgetting that this is the man who Jesus hailed as the greatest prophet. But you have forgotten these passages.

John the Baptist is hailed as  the last of the Old Testament prophets. At the time John the Baptist preached, the Old Covenant was still in force.  That is not to say that his message is to be dismissed. Sin definitely needs to be pointed out, and there are times when a sinner has to be publicly called out. But there is something new which Christ instituted in the New Covenant, and that is mercy, which He exercised constantly in His earthly ministry. There was no mercy under the Old Testament. Our Lord brought a new way, a way of mercy and forgiveness. I think some Catholics feel we are still under the Old Covenant, and that sinners should be at least spiritually stoned.

We can also look a little deeper in to the New Testament. You seem to have missed St. Paul's chastising of the Corinthian community in 1 Corinthians 5 regarding their inaction toward the sinner in sexual immorality. 

That is a good point, but look at the passage, I Corinthians 5, especially verse 2:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?
The Corinthians were actually celebrating this man's sin. There is a huge difference between showing mercy and celebrating sin. That is not mercy at all but actually joining in the destruction of a sinner. This is what St. Paul was condemning.  This man's sin had infected the rest of the congregation to the extent that they no longer recognized that the actions of this man were wrong.  The Corinthians had in effect become part of the sin.  When it gets to that point, there is no choice but to put such a sinner outside the congregation.  You could argue, and of course many have argued, that Cardinal Dolan's "bravo" was a celebration of sin. However, LifeSiteNews, in an article entitled, "Cardinal Dolan applauds football player for ‘coming out’, but didn’t back homosexuality: Diocese", reported the next day:
"The Archdiocese of New York has told LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to congratulate a homosexual football player for coming out of the closet did not mean the cardinal “was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity.”

This is far different from the incident reported by St. Paul in I Corinthians. Cardinal Dolan has most definitely distanced himself from the sin of homosexuality, and the gay community knows it.  

As I pointed out in the comment section of Elliott's blog, Blessed Pope John XXIII made a rather astounding statement in his opening message to Vatican II:
"At the outset of the Second Vatican Council, it is evident, as always, that the truth of the Lord will remain forever. We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun. The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations."
This is where I say we need to look at the message of Divine Mercy. This does not mean condoning sin, but it does mean NOT condemning the sinner. As shown in the example of the thieves crucified with Jesus, not everyone will respond to mercy, and Our Lord says through St. Faustina that those who do not accept His Mercy will then have to face His terrible judgment. But He is the judge, not us.

We can also look at the history of the Church and find ample examples where heretics were rebuked publicly by the Saints when to do so threatened their own life.

See above.

There is also an elephant in the room that you are missing. You have conveniently forgotten about the Pharisees in the gospels. Perhaps you conveniently identified them as "NOT SINNERS". So you forgot how Jesus himself very publicly rebuked them multiple times.

You need to re-read my post. I said the Pharisees identified themselves as sinless. Our Lord, in contrast, said they were the greatest of sinners. And they were the only sinners He ever publicly condemned. He most definitely rebuked them many times. That was my point entirely.

I think it is safe to say that you are lacking some understanding here and trying perhaps a bit too hard to justify what is clearly scandalizing.

The mercy of God is all about separating the sinner from the sin.  It is saying that what you are doing, the sin you are involved in, is wrong.  If you persist in this sin, you will be condemned.  But Our Lord offers you His Loving Mercy and Forgiveness.  I like the way Cardinal Dolan put it:
"And so Francis is reminding us, look, if we come across as some crabby, nay saying shrill, we’re not gonna win anybody. If we come across as a loving, embracing holy mother church who says, “Come on in. We love you. We need you. We want you. And once you get to know us, then maybe we can invite you to the conversion of heart that is at the core of the gospel. And then maybe we can talk about changing behavior. That’s a very effective pedagogy."
3) Jesus spoke in a confusing way as well.

Hmm, did he? The bread of life discourse in John 6 was pretty straight forward. Jesus meant what he said and people left because they couldn't accept it. If he was misunderstood, why did he not stop them and explain?

The statement of "eat my body, drink my blood" was easily understood at the time Jesus said it?!  Are you serious?!  No one had any concept of the Eucharist at that time. Our Lord had not even introduced it yet. This statement was completely incomprehensible at the time Jesus said it, and those who stayed did so despite the fact that they did not understand. Jesus did not expect anyone to understand this at the time He said it because it was not possible.  But he knew that those who truly had faith in him would not leave despite the confusing nature of his statement.

Second, Jesus has already given the revelation to the Church. The duty of these men is not to give you some new revelation that has not yet been understood. It is to rather pass down and explain what has already been said. To that extent, the Cardinal (and many others prelates in our age) failed because he seemed to not explain Church teaching too well. 

You are pointing to one part of the interview where Cardinal Dolan refused to condemn an individual. He made the teachings of the Church very clear in rest of the interview. As stated, the gay community got the message loud and clear. Why don't you?

Divine Mercy is not new. As I have abundantly shown, Our Lord exemplified this in His earthly ministry. There is no new teaching. What is new, as Blessed Pope John XXIII explained, is how the Church relates to sinners, and this great message was given by Jesus Himself to St. Faustina, who was then to give it to the world.

I have truly come to believe that the reason so many Catholics do not understand the Church of our time, and the reasons why so many find statements by Pope Francis and here by Cardinal Dolan so confusing is because they do not understand that now is the time of Mercy, as Our Lord explained to Sister Faustina.  Our Lord told St. Faustina that He is returning soon as judge, but before that terrible day of judgment, He is giving us a time of mercy, when all who come to Him will be forgiven their sins.  No one is denied mercy at this time.  

"Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than asked. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice. . ." (Diary 1146)


  1. Hello there again,

    I honestly did not think you will write an entire blog post in reply to me but I thank you for taking the time to address my concerns. However, I still do see some problems and I hope you will not be offended in me pointing them out in this post.

    First, you said that "It is your opinion that it is bad advice. Cardinal Dolan was most definitely not condoning the sin of homosexuality.".

    I think you are forgetting that Cardinal Dolan misused the phrase "though shalt not judge" here. The act of "coming out" and aligning oneself with a certain community is a morally problematic act. The Cardinal did not mention here that homosexuality is a gravely disordered state. Did he? Even if he did, what exactly is the meaning of saying being in a gravely disordered state is "Bravo!!" and "good for him!"? At the least, you would think the Cardinal would say "the person has a tough cross to carry".

    So no, the Cardinal's words are guilty of omitting and misrepresenting Church teaching. Is the Cardinal fully culpable for it? That I do not know and even Cardinal Dolan does not know that. We judge acts based on objective culpability so it is irrelevant to even consider that in this case.


    On the matter of the adulteress, your logic is even more problematic. You presume that you are correct in concluding lack of repentance in the adulteress because her repentance is not written down in Scripture. Seriously? So is the logic of interpreting Scripture to assume what was not mentioned to not exist?

    I would think, the rule of Scriptural interpretation suggests that you interpret that passage in a way that does not contradict Church teaching. Church teaching is clear that NO ONE who does not repent can be forgiven of a sin they commit. So Jesus cannot (or more accurately, WILL NOT) forgive the sins of the adulteress if she had not repented. The idea of forgiveness of a personal sin without repentance of that personal sin nonsensical.


    Next you go on to the bread of life discourse and speak about the lack of Eucharistic theology leading to misunderstanding. I am not sure you understand this but the Church has always used John 6 to point out that Catholic understanding of the real presence is the true interpretation. The point made by Catholics is that people left because they understood what Jesus was saying and they just didn't like it.

    Do you think those who understand what the Church is saying about the Eucharist would find it any less repugnant?

    Also, if what you say is true, then Jesus himself is guilty of those who are lost. Why? Because Jesus doesn't bother to clarify himself in the first place.


    Now you ask me what you have done wrong with the interpretation of the thieves. What you have done, as with the case of the adulteress is assume information from what is not mentioned. You assume in both cases that repentance was lacking due to it not being explicitly mentioned. That is just as absurd as assuming there was repentance by taking the passage alone.

    You have to look in to Scripture to see what are the conditions laid out for forgiveness of sins. Instead, you decide to extract conditions from ambiguous situations like the above. That is bad theology.


    Continued to Part II

  2. (Part II)
    Now you proceed to 1 Corinthians 5 and state that the issue was that the Corinthians were proud of him. I think you are missing the point that St. Paul is mad because they were actually tolerating this person in the community. If his problem was just with them feeling proud about him, why doesn't he simply ask to refrain from taking such pride? Instead, he asks that the individual be REMOVED from the community.

    Let me quote it to you.

    "For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgement in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord."

    Also, did you catch the word "judgement" in there?

    Cardinal Dolan said a person who is suffering from a gravely disordered state as being "good for him!". Then he said it is not his place to judge. One has to wonder if he is from the same line of succession as the first Apostles if one did not know better.


    Next you try to wriggle your way out of the Pharisee dilemma. Let's get this straight. The Pharisees are your common man today. They sin but they believe they are sinless because what they are doing is not a sin.

    Even if you don't understand this, the Pharisees were guilty of the sin of hypocrisy and Jesus laid in to them pretty bluntly and publicly. So that means sinners can most certainly be reproved and rebuked publicly. Jesus has set the trend himself. To go and then try to exclude the "sin of thinking I am sinless" from the list of sins to create a special privilege for the Pharisees is just deluding oneself.


    You also quote to me Bl. John XXIII (soon to be saint), and his opening address. Do I need to remind you that opening statements of councils are not infallible and not even meant to be of teaching or binding variety? I am sure the Council of Nicea had some Arians giving interesting opening speeches. Do you think that makes it teaching?


    You then go on to quote how we must not condemn the sinner. We can't condemn the sinner to eternal punishment. However, some sins require us to condemn them to temporal punishments and rebuke. Murder for an example is one of them. A person who murders without remorse cannot be allowed to roam free so that he will figure it out soon. One act of murder and act of repentance is enough to throw him in jail to safe guard others.

    Same with public sins like adultery, fornication and disordered sexual activity etc.

    Your idea of Divine Mercy is fine but you don't seem to understand the distinction between temporal decision making and judging the eternal fate. There is no issue in being severe temporally and leaving judgement to God.


    Continued to Part III

  3. You also conclude with a long description of how "this is the time for mercy". It is always and has always been a time for mercy. The issue here is that you have framed "mercy" as "not upsetting sinners" which is a novel concept that the Church has never held in the past. How did that come about? How is it even possible to reconcile with the Jesus that rebukes Pharisees or John the Baptist that rebukes Herod in public? Are we better than Jesus and St. John the Baptist now?

    Mercy requires you to upset sinners. In fact, sometimes it requires you to do so for the sake of others so that others may not be mislead.

    I think what needs to happen is that you need to realize the great Saints and Popes of the past were actually merciful. What is new today is that people are trying to invent a new concept of Mercy and equate it with "though shalt not upset others". That is not Mercy but a recipe to cater to ones own egotistic self esteem and pride.

    If a person has an adverse reaction to being rebuked, I think you are forgetting that the person is then guilty of the sin of pride as well. The correct thing to do is to humbly accept criticism even when it may be overblown. But no, you insist that we cater to this pride and build it up even more and THAT is "Mercy".

    I hope you at least write a post to back up the idea that Mercy = "Though shalt not upset" because that it not intuitive to me and I am sure to many others.

    1. Hello Charlotte. Yes, I will most definitely address your concerns here in another post. You have given me a lot to think about and respond to, so I will probably not have anything posted until tomorrow afternoon.

      I fear in many ways we are talking past each other, and I really do not want to do that. I think this is an issue of utmost importance, and I want us both to come to a correct understanding, and maybe our discussion will help others who might come along.

      So thank you again, and please look for my post sometime tomorrow.

      God bless you.

    2. Thanks, and definitely take your time.

      If I may suggest, perhaps it is better to concentrate one topic-first discuss it-and then move on to the other.

      The Cardinal Dolan's case as we both I think can agree hinges on how we understand other concepts that build up to analyzing his actions.

      So perhaps for now, let us concentrate on the topic of 1 Corinthians 5 and whether it can be understood as anything but a call to remove/shun those who are unrepentant and engaged in grave sin from the community itself.

      Then we can move on to the topic of defining Mercy or some other topic. Otherwise I fear that the discussion will have too many strands to facilitate a good solid discussion where we can analyze each others arguments.


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