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Good News or Fox News, which is it Cardinal Dolan?

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Nothing hardens hearts like the feeling of being left behind. There appears to be a lot of that feeling about at the moment and it's all rather worrying.

The sense of being abandoned, or entirely dismissed, seems to be engulfing our main Christian denominations in particular just now, if their increasing howls of protest are to be believed.

I don't discount the power or influence of the Christian Right, or their sincerity, and so I'm worried by all the saber rattling about the 'war' and 'attacks' on Christianity, the Bible, Catholicism and all other Christian denominations that we keep hearing, from coast to coast.

They've been all over the news for months, these headline grabbing claims: the 'war' on Christmas, the 'war' on marriage, the 'war' on Catholicism. To hear him tell it, Cardinal Dolan was awarded a red hat when what he needed was a helmet.

Cynics might suggest that all of this is just an orchestrated campaign by Christian conservatives to discredit the president in his re-election year. But if that were true, it's a very high stakes and dangerous ploy for such comparatively meagre rewards.

Most concerning to Irish Americans here has been the continuing alignment of the institutional church and its leadership with the political hard right.

We have watched with increasing discomfort as our own Cardinal Dolan has become the biggest cheerleader of them all, the go-to guy with the media ready soundbite, the man who can be depended upon to unleash the most appalling rhetoric with the greatest ease. How did it come to this?

Last month Cardinal Dolan claimed that that the White House was 'strangling' the church over its contraception policies. Yes, he actually said strangling. Public policy makers found themselves re-branded as serial killers. Again, how is this helpful? These do not sound like the words of a spiritual conciliator seeking justice, these sound like the words of a political operative seeking traction.

It's an occupational hazard that disproportionally affects Americas spiritual leaders. They start out preaching the Good News but end up spreading Fox News.

In the past month the Cardinal has attacked the president, the White House, the gay community, the survivors of abuse by priests, The New York Times, and even the nuns. At this point both his supporters and critics could be forgiven for wondering who's not on his black list?

I wonder who is served most by all this divisive language and saber rattling and I doubt if its Jesus. It seems to me the people who most benefit from sowing division are the ones who manipulate our religious faith as a lure to get us into the voting booth.

For decades the religious right here have fixated on contraception, abortion, creationism and the gays. Cynics might say that this is to prevent us all from fixating on Health Care, Social Welfare, Education, Poverty and Equality.

Economic and social justice, the Religious Right teaches, are the goals of socialists, who are the agents of Satan. In that way the Religious Right have been very successful at getting the disadvantaged to vote against their own interests.

Meanwhile as the old guard of the church find their power and influence eroding in one arena they appear to be ratcheting up the rhetoric in another. But they may be overreaching. Even America's nuns have found themselves walloped with a crozier lately as the leadership seem intent to take the fight to literally everyone who might dare to articulate an opposing viewpoint. The thing is that would be most of the nation and the world now.

It would help if Cardinal Dolan could remember who he answers to. Perhaps his congregation need to remind him it's not Roger Ailes.

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