Three Cheers for Cardinal Dolan!

In recent months, Dolan has been remarkably clear-headed regarding the HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate and the church’s necessary role in defending religious liberty.  Not only has he actively defended the Catholic position that abortion and birth control are harmful to women and that the government has no right to interfere with religious expression (that is just as much a piece of the freedom of speech as it is expressly protected by the banning of an established religion), but he appears to be a full-grown adult when it comes to arguing with a man who would normally be considered his political opponent.  Read these statements back and forth between Congressman Ryan and Dolan – who met and became friends when Ryan spoke at a Lutheran college in his home district – and you immediately get the impression that if Dolan were seriously probed on what he thought we should do to fix the deficit and tend to the needy, he would have different ideas than Ryan.  It does not sound like Dolan would vote yea on Ryan’s budget plan if he were in Congress (of course, Dolan is quick to point out that he’s not in Congress and for a good reason – it isn’t in his nature to go down that road when he’s got a higher calling).  BUT…what you also quickly realize is that he would be faster, even, than Ron Wyden to sit in with Ryan and try to work together on a solution with which both men would be happy.

You see…unlike the modern Progressive Democrat party, Dolan isn’t obsessed with proving that he’s absolutely right and the other side is absolutely wrong, and he isn’t motivated by power.  He appears to honestly want a serious debate and he appears to deeply admire men who have taken the big issues facing our nation seriously and put the interests of the American people ahead of political ambition.  Even the most aggressive of Democrat attacks on Ryan must concede that he’s a well-meaning, likable, hard-working guy with a lot of intelligence and no ulterior motives.  No matter how badly they want to see him as an evil genius, it just isn’t in him and they know it.  He really believes that what he’s doing will help the poor (and, FWIW, so do I, but that’s neither here nor there).  And so Dolan, who is not a petulant, overgrown baby, finds himself in heated debates with Ryan that both men truly enjoy and at the end of the day, he calls Ryan a refreshing figure with which to converse and heaps praise on him for taking his faith seriously and defending the core teachings of the Catholic Church in public, often at great political risk.

Dolan did once grace Stony Brook for a visit and delivered a crisp (and very concise) homily to a packed ballroom at the so-called “interfaith center” here – and his friend Father Jerry (as we call him) is obviously an admirer, since his own homilies have been filled with the same philosophical and political clarity and he, himself, has a similarly patient and loving temperament that’s ideal for working with a diverse student body like the one we have at Stony Brook.  Dolan and the hierarchy of priests he’s assembled in the NYC area have obviously taken John Paul the Great’s teachings to heart – and when you pair that with true open-mindedness and an earnest desire to work with your friends and your adversaries alike to find real solutions and do right by the people, you get something inspiring to behold.

Now…if Dolan would just sit down in a room with Pelosi and Kerry and their ilk and make them go through a retraining session…politely but firmly correcting them for daring to speak in the name of their faith and espouse ideals that are very much at war with those of the Church…perhaps we could make some real progress.

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