Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cardinal Dolan, The Catcher in the Rye and Matthew 28

Most of us read "Catcher In The Rye" by JD Salinger at some point in our adolescence. I think I was 16 when I read it. It has become a classic American novel. It has many themes in it, but one major theme is trying to save the loss of innocence. This is the explanation of the title, "Catcher In the Rye" from Yahoo Answers:
Have you read the book? It's like a big wheat field and the main character wishes to be the "Catcher in the Rye" when children are playing too close to a cliff, he wants to be the one that saves them.
Edit: Holden: "You know that song, 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'?..." 
Phoebe: "It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!... It's a poem. By Robert Burns." 
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be." ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 22, spoken by the character Holden Caulfield
Compare this with the writings of Pope Francis from his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium
24. The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. He tells his disciples: “You will be blessed if you do this” (Jn 13:17).
An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time. Faithful to the Lord’s gift, it also bears fruit. An evangelizing community is always concerned with fruit, because the Lord wants her to be fruitful. It cares for the grain and does not grow impatient at the weeds.
The sower, when he sees weeds sprouting among the grain does not grumble or overreact. He or she finds a way to let the word take flesh in a particular situation and bear fruits of new life, however imperfect or incomplete these may appear. The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.
I think this is the job description of every Christian as given to us by Our Lord in Matthew 28:19 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We who have been washed clean by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ - we who have been saved by Our Lord from going over the cliff - now have a duty to spread this saving message to the rest of the world and try to pull them from the edge of the cliff. And truly, our evil and dying world has never been more in need of the glorious message of Jesus Christ than it is right now.

As much as the world needs the Gospel message of Christ's salvation, that is also how resistant they are to this message. And it is for this very reason that we need to go more and more directly to them. They are headed at break neck speed to their own destruction.  As Pope Francis wrote, "An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast."

This past week, Cardinal Dolan has come under vicious attacks from many Catholics because he has accepted the decision of the organizers of NYC's St. Patrick's Day parade to allow a gay group to march under its own banner.  Cardinal Dolan has said he has no problem with it, and will even act as Grand Marshal in the 2015 parade.  But there will be active homosexuals at this parade promoting their agenda.  Doesn't that mean His Eminence should denounce it?

Pat Archbold, who never minces words in his criticism of Church hierarachy, wrote the following [HERE]:
If reports are to be believed, a compromise is in the works that will amount to nothing less than an endorsement of the gay identity in the 2015 NYC St. Patrick's Day parade.
. . .

If this is true, and I pray it is not, it is a shameful and sinful capitulation by the parade organizers and Cardinal Dolan.
If a parade that is meant to honor a great saint is being used to promote a sinful agenda, it should be cancelled rather than allow it to be used in such a way. It is one thing for a parade committee to fold under pressure, but it is quite another that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York would be asked to lend his name and office to the parade. Such an action can be viewed in no other way than total capitulation to gay identity groups.
Pat Archbold needs to realize that while the parade is celebrated on the feast day of St. Patrick, for the vast majority who organize the parade and those who attend, it has little to do with honoring St. Patrick or being Catholic. I don't think this great saint would be honored by much of what goes on in his name. Catholics everywhere - at least as can be seen in the Catholic blogosphere this week - seem to think that the St. Patrick Day's Parade in NYC is some sort of religious event with the New York Archdiocese running the show. Nothing could be further from the truth. The archdiocese does not organize the parade. They are only one of many groups taking part in the parade. The parade is a cultural event.

Look at this video from Bill O'Reilly's show from March of 2013:

As stated in the video, not everyone at the parade is there to get wasted. But consider who the major sponsors of the parade are - Guinness, Heineken and Sam Adams. This was never a religious event. The NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade was started by the Irish laity as a way to celebrate being Irish. But St. Patrick is also the patron saint of the New York Archdiocese, and that is why the Archdiocese, among many other groups and individuals, takes part in it. And as it should, the Archdiocese does bring their Catholic beliefs and practices to the parade. However, this clearly does not mean that others see this as a religious event.

The following is from The Huffington Post [HERE]:
The parade has no direct ties to the church, but celebrates a Catholic saint and has always been a key event for the city's Irish Catholics.
Philip Lawler, the Boston-based editor of the theologically conservative Catholic World News, said Dolan should step down as grand marshal.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook with people who are upset," Lawler said. "Cardinal Dolan said, 'I'm sure there have been lots of homosexuals marching in the parade before,' but homosexuals identifying themselves seems a contradiction in honoring a Catholic saint."
Lawler said the New York parade is more of a civic event that has already lost much of its ties to religion. "Why don't we just admit it has no religious significance?" Lawler said.
Since, as Lawler says, the parade has little or no religious significance, should the Church step down from involvement in it, even though that involvement goes all the way back to the beginning of the parade? Would that be fulfilling the Church's role as evangelizer to the world?  Do we shun sinners, or do we heed the words of Pope Francis:
An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.
The same Huffington Post article quoted Cardinal Dolan from last year's parade, which I think is completely in line with the words of Pope Francis:
At the St. Patrick's Day Parade last March, Dolan said he supports individual gays and lesbians participating in the parade and hoped it could be a day of unity and joy. "I know that there are thousands and thousands of gay people marching in this parade," he said. "I know it. And I'm glad they are."
This parade was started in the 18th century even before the US became a country.  The New York Catholic Church has always participated in it.  Should they now run away because the parade organizers have decided to allow groups in with which the Church disapproves?  Many pro abortion and pro-homosexual politicians have marched in the parade for years, but no one ever thought the Church should pull out of the parade for that reason.

But, you say, the politicians were not at the parade to promote their anti-Catholic agenda as the gay groups will do.  I've got news for those with this argument - politicians are always about promoting themselves and their agendas.  

If this was the Pride Parade, which is all about promoting homosexuality, then I could understand people's angst. And if it does somehow devolve into that, then the Archdiocese should take appropriate steps to distance themselves.

But this parade is still about being Irish, not being gay. And the fact that gay groups will be present at the parade is an excellent opportunity for evangelization.  They are coming on to our turf, and we can now show them that although we disapprove of their life style, we still love and accept them as human beings.  There will be no more reason for signs such as this at the parade:

All of those rushing to condemn Cardinal Dolan seem to forget that he was the one who forbade the people at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church from marching in the Gay Pride parade with their Church banner.  He is also on the Board of Courage and has actively promoted this beautiful ministry, designed to help homosexuals come out of their sinful lifestyles.  

This is what Cardinal Dolan wrote about Courage in an editorial published in the New York Daily News [HERE].  The editorial was the Cardinal's protest against the cancellation of a speech by a priest speaking to a Catholic high school about Courage:
Pope Francis famously made headlines over the summer when he said in an interview, "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?" His words made me grateful for the church's ministry, called Courage, which assists and supports people with a same-sex attraction to live virtuous lives, and EnCourage, dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents and relatives of those with same sex attraction.
Here we have a loving, welcoming, community, dedicated to helping those who strive to live as Jesus calls us to live. This is what our gay Catholics have long sought: a home, a welcome, a sense of inclusion in the church they love.
I would strongly encourage everyone to read this editorial by Cardinal Dolan.  Maybe it will help you understand how wrong people are when they accuse His Eminence of being "pro sodomy." There is a huge difference between supporting people and supporting their sins.  

The Catholic Church - the Mystical Body of Christ - never turns anyone away from her doors.  Only Catholics in good standing with the Church and in a state of grace can receive the sacraments, but the Church will never turn her back on any human being.  That is why we read the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
To use a cliché, what would Jesus do in this situation?  Would He go running for the hills because an open, professing homosexual took part in an event at which He was already present?  Or would He use this as an opportunity to reach out to a lost soul in great need of His Saving Grace?  

I know I will stand alone in my opinion.  I will be accused of being a hapless liberal who is actually against the Catholic Church and her teachings, just as so many have accused Cardinal Dolan.  But I truly wish that people would stop being so quick to condemn and instead put aside their judgments and reach out with love and compassion to those who need them, just as Cardinal Dolan is doing.

Cardinal Dolan is not inviting unrepentant homosexuals to the communion rail.  Despite the accusations of many, he is not endorsing the gay life style.  But as a pastor, he is taking every opportunity he can to reach lost souls.  He, like Holden Caulfield in "Catcher In The Rye", is trying to stop people from running off the cliff to their own destruction.  He realizes that turning and walking away from people is not going to stop them.  As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has told us, we must be willing to take on the smell of the sheep so they will be willing to listen to us.  That is exactly what Cardinal Dolan is doing and, sadly, what many other Catholics are refusing to do.

Do we reach people by standing in condemnation of them, giving them even more reason to hate us, or do we open our arms to them and say, in the words of the late Joan Rivers, "Can we talk?"  


  1. A sincere thank you for showing the other side of the coin and shining a light on the positive side of Cardinal Dolan. I appreciate that and find it helpful since I was rather confused by his participation in the parade. This helps.

  2. The NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade takes great pride in the claim that it dates back to 1762. That year, the Irish members of the British Royal Army station in NYC held a march. Given the Penal Laws in place at the time, all of the military men would have been Protestant Irishmen.

    And the (Anglican) Church of Ireland honors St. Patrick as well as the Catholic Church.


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