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.


  1. I don't agree with you on this one. I certainly am not in position to judge the Cardinal just think all of his arguments are without merit as he shared on his blog. He isn't't Obama's pastor but if he wants to influence him he could invite him out to dinner in Wash. Or to the Cardinal's residence. but to give him photo op than only hurts the chances to vote him out of office I don't understand it. Obama is in concert with the evil one by his policies funding abortion here and throughout the world.

  2. Well Colleen, you are much more internet savvy than I. I didn't even know the cardinal had a blog.

    I just went over to read his response to his many critics (So many that they closed off the comments to his post). Obviously, he said it better than I (although I'm impressed that he copied many of my sentiments --- but I won't criticize his theft.) A key point he made I was not aware of is that this invite of presidential candidates is done EVERY election, and to not do so would have made even more waves, and built an even higher wall between the Church and the government. If I'd have known of the precedent, that would have been my first argument in support of his action.

    One thing, though: he never did say he had any particular intent with the invite. Maybe he didn't, or maybe he did --- but it is not something for debate. You know, perhaps the Holy Spirit (who inspires me all the time) may sometimes inspire cardinals also. Perhaps. ....

    (Although I always like alternative insights, I hope the word doesn't get out that I AM accepting comments on this subject on my blog. ;-) )

  3. Tom, in fact my comment did not get posted to the Cardinal's blog. God does work all things for the good of those who love him. I will certainly drop to my knees and Praise God if something happens to hinder Obama's re-election efforts. I have more than a little passion on this since I've been chaperoning a regular monthly trip to advocate for the unborn and perhaps persuade some young mothers to not go through with their appointments outside of the Planned Parenthood center in Aurora, IL. I know it is a spiritual battle, and I know your trust in the Lord is ALWAYS well placed!

  4. Hi Tom, I'm glad you wrote this post. I'm always interested in your 'take' of things. I've read the pros and cons and still can't make up my mind whether Dolan should or should not have invited Obama. My opinion doesn't really matter and I'm not sure it's needful for me to have an opinion of it.

    Only God knows the heart of Bishop Dolan and to what end he desires. As in all things, I will trust God. All this jabbering about the good or bad of Obama's invitation is of no benefit to anyone. I simply pray that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    I did enjoy your opinion which was very well thought out.

  5. Colleen, words don't express my admiration for you and your dedication. I only wish those were things I were in a position to do. Relative to trust, I happen to be reading two books right now which strongly relate to each other, although I purchased each totally by chance. The first is The Way of Trust and Love, about St. Therese of Lisieux --- I'll be reviewing that one here in the next day or so. On the very last page is this sentence: "As long as we walk in faith and trust, we will know the path."

    Maryellen, for my take on things, it appears all you had to do was look into your heart. We see so many things alike, just from different perspectives. You make one great point which I often tell to friends: If you can't do anything about it, stop worrying about it. I guess that's the point I summarized at the end, about this just being a distraction for us.

    Thank you both for being inspirations for me.