Thursday, October 04, 2007

Live Blogging Archbishop Timothy Dolan From the Marquette Law School

Official starting time: 12:10. We are running a couple of minutes late.

12:15 -- Mike Gousha and Dolan walk in.

It’s a full house, with extra chairs being brought in.

Gousha introduces Dolan, who gets a nice round of applause when Gousha says to “make him welcome.”

Gousha: Asks about Dolans recent trip to Washington. What did Dolan tell the assembled crowd in DC?

Dolan: The ceremony was called the Red Mass, and goes back to the Middle Ages. Several Supreme Court Justices attended. Dolan read the creation story from Genesis, which he told the group means that man and woman are created in the image of God. Stressed that non-Christians have taken a similar view, and the U.S. was based on the notion that people have inalienable rights because they are created in the image of God.

This has consequences for all kinds of issues, from war and peace to the sanctity of innocent life.

Dolan addresses the notion that this idea involves “Catholics are forcing their ideas on other people.” Dolan says that any “thinking person” will come to a conclusion like that of the Church.

Gousha: What role should faith play in (say) the decisions a judge makes.

Dolan: “I would hope it would play a big role.” Faith is not something forced on people but something that “wells up from the inside.” But, of course, the key loyalty of a Justice will be to the Constitution.

Gousha: What about Archbishop Burke, who would deny Rudy Giuliani communion for support of abortion?

Dolan: “I think it’s getting warm in here.” (laughter) Dolan says good things about Burke, and then mentions a resolution of the Bishops. The Bishops agree on general principles (abortion is immoral), but then individual Bishops have to decide how they implement the principles. That is a matter of prudential judgment.

Burke himself told the Bishops that he didn’t mean to put other Bishops on the spot, or imply that all Bishops should adopt that policy. Dolan asks “have I answered the question?” (It’s obvious he hasn’t.)

Gousha: What about controversial statements that came from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that other (non-Catholic) religions are defective?

Dolan: explains that this was in response to questions coming from around the world.

Dolan seems to agree that the Catholic Church is the “one true church,” but quickly adds that other faiths can have the truth.

He points out that there was “not much new” in the statement. Catholics do belong to the “one truth church” but have a profound respect for people of other faiths.

Gousha: Clergy sex abuse scandal. How does it now stand?

Dolan: “Continues to be a source of pain and scandal and hurt” in the Church. Says the issue has been a “tsunami of sadness.” Says there are “objective reasons for hope.” Quotes child abuse expert saying that there is no other organization in the U.S. that has been taking the issue as seriously as the Church.

More from Dolan: It is good to be constantly an issue, since “pain is a purifier.” Hopes the Church, which was an example of what not to do, can be an example of what to do. Mentions groups of “abuse survivors” who went to a Southern Baptist Convention meeting and told them they that they should emulate the Catholic Church.

Gousha: talks about the financial impact of the abuse scandal on the Church, particularly in California.

Dolan: cares more about the spiritual issue than the financial issue, but has to worry about the financial issue too. The Milwaukee Archdiocese has been hit with $25 million in expenses. “We are not in good shape. We are in the red.”

Gousha: Only 37% of Catholics go to mass regularly.

Dolan: On Sunday mornings when the Packers play it is even less. (laughter)

Dolan adds: “that’s not good.” Points out that people in Europe think this is great. In 1965, 78% of Catholics attended mass regularly. What do we do about it? Went to Priests’ Council, who said we have to turn to evangelization.

Gousha: asks about crime in Milwaukee. “Have we lost our way?”

Dolan: “I’m going to say ‘yes.’” Adds, “I don’t want to be judgmental.” So when he says “we” he’s including himself too. Quotes former Mayor Koch in New York (who is Jewish) who said that the Catholic Church was the glue that held the city together.

Wants to reclaim “the whole Judeo-Christian tradition.” Talks about a black speaker and activist from Philadelphia saying that “we have a crisis of the soul.” Adding “if an African-American teenager thinks he or she is made in the image or likeness of God” they won’t do drugs, shoot people, and so on.

Questions from the Audience

Question: How do we reclaim the tradition?

Dolan: “Today we all walk around as individuals.” Catholic social theory has always been communal. Invokes “solidarity.”

What do we do about it? One: “celebrate the good stuff we are doing.” “We’ve got tremendous things going on.” Tries to get out at least once a week to see people who are making a positive difference. Invokes Mother Theresa: “we love one person at a time.”

Commends Marquette for this kind of activism.

Finally: “keep it on our radar.” It’s easy to ignore such issues. Admits all this is a “fluid answer.”

Question: Audience member says that Dolan did evade the issue of pro-abortion politicians. Isn’t this a time to quit saying it’s an issue of prudence.

Dolan: thanks questioner for pointing out that he was evasive. Says that anybody who is out of communion of the Church should not receive communion. (But seems to be talking about a decision made by an individual Catholic.) Someone who takes communion in those circumstances is a hypocrite. Would advise a politician not to take communion if they were pro-abortion. They have “ruptured the bond” with the church.

But the question is “how do we get that across?” Do we “single out” people? The preferred position is dialogue. Insists it is a matter of prudential judgment.

Says Catholic preaching has been too “feel good” and “trendy.” Bishops have been “waffling” too much. Mentions Archbishop Rummel in New Orleans, who excommunicated three segregationists. New York Times thought this was great. But when Burke did something similar, it’s a violation of the First Amendment.

Question: Questioner asks about abortion, and says abortion “should be a personal issue.”

Dolan: Church teaches compassion, even for women who have abortions. Church teaching that abortion is wrong comes from the Natural Law. Taking an innocent life is intrinsically wrong. “This isn’t just a Catholic issue.” Mentions Nat Hentoff, a “Jewish atheist” who doesn’t care what the Pope says, but opposes abortion “because it’s wrong.”

Says abortion even in the case of rape and incest would “compound the tragedy.”

The Church in its teaching isn’t trying to exclude people, but to bring people in. In teaching “we have to convert people to a change of heart.”

Gousha: Dolan has to leave, and “let’s give him a round of applause.” The following applause is extended and enthusiastic, suggesting that Dolan is quite popular with the crowd.

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Blogger Dad29 said...

Thanks for the report.

I think you typo-ed early on, here:

Dolan addresses the notion that this idea involves “Catholics are forcing their ideas on other people.” Dolan says that this conclusion is one that any “thinking person” will come to.

I think I know what Dolan said--which is that "thinking people" will come to [the same conclusions as the Church] about major issues.

But that's not exactly what your report states.

8:46 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

No, not a typo, but rather extremely imprecise prose!

I've corrected that in the original post. Thanks.

8:48 PM  

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