Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Archbishop Dolan's Letter to Obama

I read with some interest (and sadness) Archbishop Dolan’s letter to President Obama last week, and commentaries which have flooded across the internet. Some avidly support “his” actions; some avidly oppose “his” actions. You can select which of the two men you think I refer to what I say “his” actions, because my ambiguous words serve to illustrate the problem I see.

We seem to have reached a point in America where most people think they know all the answers, on virtually anything. While there may be a few honest Bible-study groups going on across the country, elsewhere many people think they already know what it says and what it means; further study is unnecessary. They know.

Relative to comments on Archbishop Dolan’s letter, some staunchly defend President Obama’s actions and condemn the Archbishop for “wanting to dictate Catholic beliefs” on all Americans. And in some areas there are heated debates --- among Catholics --- as to what those beliefs are! And the defenders of Archbishops Dolan’s letter and principles cite many a Catholic bible, chapter and verse, as do his detractors.

But despite all the words written back and forth, it appears no one is reading them, because no one appears to be considering what is written. It appears they believe there is nothing to be learned in the exchanges, for they are confident they already know all there is to know. They know! Oh, it is not that they are not open-minded; they are. Explain to them (in a couple of sentences) some new deeply philosophical or theological insight --- in ten words or less --- and they are open to the new learning. Just hurry up and explain it, because their (“open”) mind is already planning their retort.

The Reverend Archbishop’s letter centers on the DOMA law – the Defense of Marriage Act – passed by Congress, signed by President Bush into law, and which President Obama directed the Justice Department not to enforce. The Archbishop’s letter points out that this is just one action in a dire trend of actions by this president. We are trending toward religious and other persecutions in America. The Executive Office, in religious matters, is saying: “We know” --- and you don’t --- and so you (religious people) must be stopped.

The Executive Branch of government chooses not to enforce one law, and through the EPA and various “czars” it creates and enforces other laws. It sues states for not enforcing some federal laws, while suing others (like Arizona) for enforcing some. It almost seems as if the actions of Congress and the states don’t matter, as the Executive Office chooses what laws do matter, or creates them. Perhaps the new Congressional “Committee of Twelve” seeking cost cuts and efficiencies should look at these trends and propose abolishing Congress and state governments; perhaps it would be more efficient for the Executive Office to run everything. Then the input of “we who don’t know” would be stopped, as an efficiency for the good of all America.

This form of governmental efficiency has a name: a dictatorship. We The People becomes I The Government.

Archbishop Dolan rightly points out our country’s trend. There are some who say this will not happen in America; they will “take the government back” in the next election and repeal any “unfair” actions. They say they will make things right again --- because “they know.”

I’m beginning to fear all those on the Right or the Left or the Middle who “know.” They want to give the American people what “they know” the government should do. What is forgotten in the rush to do what “they know” is right, is that whatever can be given to Americans can be taken away again --- by others “who know.”

So many people in political circles “know”, but it appears none of them are learning anything new. Even in the Church, where Catholics are called to “grow in holiness,” there are many who act as if they’ve reached their destination: their actions imply “No more growing is necessary for me, but let me MAKE you grow.”

Because, “I know.”

I often say here “Do Not Be Anxious,” my friends, and I do mean that. But that does not mean there aren’t reasons to pray. Many reasons.

I have incorporated into my daily prayers an appeal for God’s Mercy in our country. I don’t know what else to pray for, because I readily admit: amidst all those who “know,” I am proclaiming I do NOT know. And I fear that those who proclaim they DO know, don’t either.

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