The Cardinal and the Impudent

Judie Brown
September 4, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

Impudent: insolent, insultingly contemptuous in speech or conduct.

A recent National Review report quoted Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in which he made a statement regarding vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and U.S. vice president Joe Biden. The cardinal said: "We've got two men who - and you can disagree with one of them or both of them - say they take their faith seriously, who don't try to hide it, and who say, 'Hey, my Catholic upbringing and my Catholic formation influences the way I think.' Not bad. Not bad."

In response to this, I received an interesting and provocative e-mail from a good and loyal Catholic attorney, Richard Collier. Parts of it are so relevant to the drama I outlined this past Friday that his insights bear repeating, as he finds the same weakness in the statements quoted in the National Review that I and many other Catholics have discerned. He writes:

We know from Bishop Morlino that this [Dolan comment] is true of Ryan. But no one outside of the Catholic hierarchy believes that it is true of Biden. So why proclaim to the public that there is a moral equivalence between the positions of the two men? Why proclaim that it is "not bad" that one of the two is a liar, to the extent that he claims to be following the teaching of the Church, which is an objectively false claim? Why suggest that it is a good thing for both sides of the divide between good and evil to be Catholics? Why not keep your mouth shut if you cannot help blurting out stupid statements (a la Biden)?

Does the cardinal also think that it is "not bad" that six of the nine Supreme Court Justices are Catholic? And that Congress is stuffed with Catholics who are pro-aborts and promote same-sex marriage? What good does it do to the Church to have Catholics hold all of the highest positions in the land, if most of them are, objectively speaking, opposed to the teaching of the Church?

Collier is not being outrageous, nor is he being disrespectful to the office of the cardinal or the bishops, but rather he is exposing a grave problem that is causing confusion and scandal among Catholics in the culture from one end of this nation to the other. Collier continues, "I have the same question for all of the bishops on canon 915: Can they identify ANY situation in which they would invoke the canon? They keep telling us that they have not seen any situation that is scandalous enough to trigger canon 915. (There is none so blind as he who will not see.)"

Collier reminds us of the stunning statement made by Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican: "After I began my studies of Canon Law in September of 1980, I soon learned how much the Church's discipline was disdained by her priests, in general," he recounted. "Institutes of the Church's law, which, in her wisdom, she had developed down the Christian centuries, were set aside without consideration of their organic relationship to the life of the Church or of the chaos which would necessarily result from their neglect or abandonment."

Collier and I agree that the problem with obedience to canon 915 continues to this very moment, and may well be at the root of all the other politically-motivated situations we have cited of late on the American Life League website. It is assuredly why we began the NO DINNER FOR OBAMA campaign and will not stop calling attention to the potential scandal of that event.

As an attorney, Collier's insight on the rule of law is golden,

Like President Obama, who refuses to enforce laws he disagrees with despite his constitutional duty to execute the laws of the land, the bishops have arrogated unto themselves the power to nullify those portions of canon law with which they disagree. The rule of law means nothing to those who refuse to be bound by the laws they have sworn to uphold. Thus, they compound the scandal and the chaos that canon 915 is designed to mitigate. Not to mention the loss of souls.

I join Collier and so many others in asking the ultimate question, "Whatever happened to Psalm 1, Verse 1: 'Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent'?"