Sunday, August 26, 2012
I Support Dolan's Invite
I support Cardinal Dolan’s dinner invite to President Obama. But of course, I support everything Cardinal Dolan does, because I trust he uses good “means”, aimed toward good “ends” --- two subjects I have been reading and thinking about a lot lately.
But regardless of Dolan’s intents, only God knows the true ultimate ends of his actions --- something else I’ve been considering in recent weeks.
“The ends do not justify the means” is a doctrine of the Catholic Church which I studied in reading the catechism. The “ends” are the desired outcomes, and the “means” are actions to achieve the outcomes. The catechism says both what you do and what you intend to accomplish must be objectively good.
Relative to my support of Cardinal Dolan: in general, to publicly support the cardinal is a good action on my part, which seeks to achieve a good outcome --- unity of God’s Church. Would someone challenge my action or intended outcome, or the good of either? Among true Christians, I would hope not.
Relative to Cardinal Dolan: I think that those who are concerned about his invite to the President are, with good intentions, thinking that either Dolan’s action (the invite), the “means”, or the outcome Dolan intends (????), the “ends”, are not good --- or not as good as he thinks. So some wish to inform him what they think on the matter, so as to help his judgment.
How noble of them!
So let’s look at what these noble critics of the Cardinal are seeing, starting with Dolan’s action-to-date: the dinner invite to President Obama. Is this a good action, a good “means”? Well, Jesus went to eat with sinners, often. I’m not calling our President a sinner, but if Jesus had a home, or even a dinner at which he was being honored, wouldn’t he likely have invited enemies? I think so. And what of the forum for this dinner, its honoring of Al Smith, the first Catholic to run for president. Did you know that crosses were sometimes burned outside the places where Mr. Smith spoke? A Catholic persecuted for his faith --- and considering President Obama’s recent actions, isn’t he also persecuting Catholics? Now Cardinal Dolan can stand far off and treat the president as someone to avoid, like a leper, and yell criticisms, like: “Unclean! Unclean!”, or he can invite him to dinner, as I think Jesus would. And if not this unique forum, which?
No, I think objectively, the dinner invite to someone you have strong disagreement with is a good action. Alone, it should not be criticized.
Now let’s look at Cardinal Dolan’s intended outcome of his action, the “end”: Is this also a good thing? Well? Well, just what is the cardinal’s intended outcome? Has he stated one? What about Jesus’ actions of eating with sinners? What were His stated goals? Did He intend to convert all sinners by His eating with them --- if so, from my reading of Scripture, He failed. Did He intend to strengthen or teach His followers something --- if so, Scripture mentions many who were scandalized by His actions, and so at least for some of them, He failed again.
Did Jesus actually state WHY he ate with sinners, the “good” outcomes he intended? Did Cardinal Dolan actually state WHY he invited President Obama to dinner, the “good” outcomes he intended? We saw some in Scripture who gave Jesus advice about his eating with sinners, and now we see some who are giving Cardinal Dolan advice. Without knowing the intended outcomes, these advisors judge both of them wrongly.
I wrote often, recently, about how we cannot really know the outcomes, the “ends,” sought by God; He is God, and we are not. We pray to God, advising Him for example, how good it would be to stop our sufferings. We want good outcomes (as we define them) to everything, yet we are not privileged to understand --- or perhaps in our lifetimes to even see – the ultimate outcomes of some of our actions. All we really can do is take good actions, and intend good results. The actual results, and the actual ultimate goodness of them, are in God’s hands. And we need faith to say, “My Jesus, I trust in You.” Can we trust Him too much? Can we trust Cardinal Dolan too much --- or the good of what God will do to Dolan’s intended outcomes?
As for myself, even if it is said that ultimately this coming election was lost because of this invite, I will trust in God. Even if our economy falters and all my savings turn to dust, I will trust Him. Even if I become one of those poor I’m always trying to help, I will still trust. Scripture says: Trust in the Lord in all things --- and so I shall. I’ll trust God with the big outcomes of this election, and Dolan with the little outcomes of a dinner invite. And if Dolan proves a fool, a sinner who God should not have ever trusted with making a dinner, may he be demoted to dishwasher --- but I will not pray for that. Even there, I’ll trust.
I don’t know what Cardinal Dolan intends as an outcome of this dinner, so I can’t begin to say it is good or bad --- from the point of view of my great wisdom, so I will not choose to criticize or “advise” him. I can say, however, that his action-to-date, the invite, seems a good thing. Beyond that, I am content to wait.
I’ll leave the ultimate outcome of the dinner and its goodness to God, and worry about other things, like what good things I should be doing this day.
I hear the politically-focused among us worry about the core issues not being discussed enough in this election campaign because of so many distractions. As what is this, this invite of a President to a single dinner, if not a distraction? And just who, by their loud harping, are seeking to make of it a distracting headline?
As for me and my household, we will trust in the Lord.