|Cardinal Timothy Dolan|
His greatest plea to humanity was to oppose every form of birth control. In the case of sex trafficking victims or unaccompanied minors, he wanted to make particularly sure that they and all statutory rape survivors should give birth against their will.
That, believe it or not, is the face of Christian compassion as currently practiced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
You think I exaggerate? The fact is that our Bishops have taken a massive rightward tilt in recent years that now has them comparing President Barack Obama to Hitler and Stalin from the pulpit, using the kind of extremist language that's endearing them to Pat Robertson and the Tea Party right.
Here's Bishop Daniel Jenky of Illinois discussing the president this week:
"Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, President Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path."
Really Bishop Jenky? Do you fear you're about to be thrown in a Siberian gulag to break stones and be re-educated? Really?
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Apparently Bishop Jenky is genuinely feeling very Armageddoney these days. "Now things have come to such a pass in our beloved country," he grouses, "that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgment seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral."
Battle, War, Stalin, Hitler. Them’s fighting words. Boy things have gotten kooky in religious right land.
In contrast, may I inform you of a truly Christian act that almost - but not quite – received no mention in the press recently?
It involves Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, the organization in New York City that provides food, shelter and dignity to the epidemic numbers of young LGBT teenagers rejected by their religious parents and forced into homelessness here.
Siciliano recently wrote an open letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan to call his attention to the crisis issue.
Siciliano pointed out that ‘studies indicate that religious parents are significantly more likely to reject their LGBT children, and that he and other religious leaders who fight against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of our society bear some responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youths suffering homelessness on the streets of our nation.'
Siciliano invited the Cardinal, who is President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, to visit the Ali Forney Center in the city to see first hand the harm caused to children by religious homophobia.
Instead, Dolan sent a stung reply to Siciliano, claiming that he had felt personally attacked by the letter, which he called inflammatory. Dolan wrote that he was simply following the church's teachings.
But, glaringly, Dolan didn’t say a word to say about the plight of the gay kids who had been kicked to the curb by their own parents. He didn't plan to meet with them or hear about their plight at the center, because he made no mention of Siciliano's invitation in his reply.
If the Cardinal was asked for bread, he instead threw stones. I'm sure he probably told himself that Siciliano (who founded the center in 2002) was simply using the kids as political pawns. You could almost believe that too that if it weren't for the fact that Siciliano runs the shelter and Dolan does not.
Jesus would have gone, I bet. In fact, Jesus would have ministered to them. But these are gay kids, so Cardinal Dolan needn't bother with them because it would compromise the clear teachings of the church. Better that the Cardinal should adhere to his church than busy himself with the plight of homeless teenagers who nobody knows and with no to family support them and nowhere to turn.
It's what Jesus asks of him, after all.
Let’s face it, Dolan is a man of the world, it's how he got the job. He knows that gay kids have no political clout and that no powerful people will champion them. If he felt free to utterly ignore their plight in his letter it is because powerful people can still do so without consequence.
Interestingly, not everyone within Dolan's orbit shares his hard right views. Recently Joseph Amodeo resigned from Catholic Charities after reading Cardinal Dolan's dismissive reply to Siciliano. To underline his objection, Amodeo has just launched a petition again asking Dolan to meet with some of NYC's homeless LGBT youth.
But Cardinal Dolan will never meet with them. His church's clear teachings would be tarnished by the association. He needn’t even mention their existence.
Besides, he has bigger fish to fry. Catholic bishops are currently planning to oppose the administration on contraception, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and New York State's law granting marriage equality to gay couples.
They're not going to do this quietly. In fact the USCCB is reportedly planning an election-year public relations blitz that may include TV and radio ads, social media, and pastors and priests raising these subjects continuously from the pulpit.
Playing politics in an election year, whilst claiming their religious rights are being attacked, and doing all this without ever paying a dime of tax, they’ll be hard to believe. Either this is Stalin and Hitler's America or it isn't. Until they're taxed for their political pronouncements like every other PAC they probably won't care.