Cardinal Dolan: Bewildering No More


In light of the now well-publicized Al Smith Dinner, a number of Catholic commentators, me included, were moved to question Cardinal Dolan’s resolve relative to his handling of politicians who are hostile to the Church. I now feel duty bound in conscience to repent of my presumptuousness.

You see, to suggest that His Eminence lacks the backbone necessary to take a principled stand on behalf of the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles is to presume that he actually holds the worldview that naturally comes with said Faith. Given some of his most recent comments, however, there seems to be ample reason to suspect otherwise; an indication that his decision to trip the lights hilarious with Barack Obama may very well be consistent with his most deeply held, albeit very troubling, convictions.

In hindsight, therefore, it is perhaps more accurate to say that Cardinal Dolan has a spine made of steel.

In spite of numerous impassioned pleas to reconsider his decision from both laity and clergy alike, the Cardinal has proven unflappable. He recently took to his blog to explain and defend himself, ultimately concluding:

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

Classic Dolan, that: A little dose of humor and maybe all concerned will simply move on confident that everything’s under control.

Those who give the matter additional consideration, however, cannot help but conclude that this particular argument isn’t germane to the present discussion since every meal that Jesus enjoyed in the company of others was consumed at table with sinners; excepting, of course, for those occasions when He and Our Blessed Lady dined alone.

The distinction that His Eminence apparently cares not to make is that simply being a sinner doesn’t equate to being an unapologetic enemy of the Lord and His Church. Barack Hussein Obama is just such a wretch; a man who heaps insult upon injury by claiming recourse to a “Christian” faith that every authentic follower of Christ over the age of reason recognizes as a blasphemous lie.

That said, Jesus did in fact dine with certain of the Pharisees who would oppose Him, but let’s not forget that He used the occasion to call them to account for their sins, and this He did not just in private, but in the presence of others; rebuking His hard-hearted opponents unto conversion while forming the consciences of those who stood witness.

As I suggested in a previous column, the possibility arguably still exists, however slight, that Cardinal Dolan will use the Al Smith Dinner to do the same with Barack Obama, but given his comments in a recent interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez of Nation Review, it now appears that the odds are better that Nancy Pelosi will convert to Catholicism.

“Do you not think,” His Eminence rhetorically asked Ms. Lopez, “it’s a cause for celebration in the Catholic community in the United States of America that the two vice-presidential candidates are Catholic? Did you ever think it would come to this?”

“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,” he concluded.

Ah… Suddenly, this entire Al Smith affair is starting to make sense.

Al Kresta – the CEO of Ave Maria Radio and a man that I admire and respect – spoke for the majority of faithful Catholics when he said of Cardinal Dolan, “I’m disappointed and bewildered, yes, undeniably.”

That, however, was before the cardinal suggested that Joe Biden — a man who thumbs his nose at Holy Mother Church while supporting abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage,” not to mention promoting a government mandate that threatens to cripple the Church’s ability to carry out her mission in the United States — should inspire American Catholics to celebrate.

For me, disappointment in Cardinal Dolan endures, and bitterly so, but in light of these comments, bewilderment is a thing of the past. So too is any suspicion that His Eminence’s actions are in some way inconsistent with his core beliefs.

In spite of it all, members of the Timothy Dolan Fan Club are proving to be a resilient bunch. To paraphrase some of their commentary:

“He only said that Joe Biden claims to take his faith seriously, he didn’t agree, and after all he’s right; there was a time not very long ago when simply being Catholic almost guaranteed political defeat in this country.”

Sure, having two “Catholic” vice presidential candidates would have been unthinkable just fifty years ago, but let’s be honest about how we got here.

It’s not as though we’re enjoying the fruits of missionary success in America; no indeed, this is the result of a surrender of Catholic principles wherein so many members of the sacred hierarchy in this country (as elsewhere) have shelved their Apostolic mission in exchange for the ways of the world.

The Cardinal Dolan groupies can explain away his stunning comments all they want, but who’s kidding who? In what universe is Joe Biden even “Catholic” in the first place? How much less is his candidacy some kind of victory for Christ such that the children of the Church should celebrate?

Here’s the cold hard reality of the situation: If one accepts, as Cardinal Dolan apparently does, that Joe Biden is a Catholic who enjoys even a debatable claim to a serious faith, then there’s absolutely nothing for a godless electorate to fear from the Church. That, my friends, is how we managed to get two “Catholics” on the big American ticket.

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Cardinal Dolan’s words and actions demonstrate with remarkable clarity just how comfortable he and so many others have become in selling out Christ the King.

And for what? The unparalleled sense of accomplishment that comes from having placated the fears of Protestant voters and finally gaining acceptance among the political elites who have always hated the Lord and His Holy Catholic Church?

Perhaps His Eminence will understand why ordinary Catholics fail to see this abject failure on the part of the Church in the United States as a “cause for celebration.”  Then again, maybe if we’re lucky he’ll promulgate a new blog post explaining the subtle nuances of high political theater that rubes like us just aren’t savvy enough to grasp.

A Prince of the Church who fearlessly engages the lies of hell bent politicians, not with cocktails and platitudes, but with the sword of Truth wielded in defense of the Sovereign rights of Christ the King; calling fraudulent Christians — especially self-described “Catholics” like Joe Biden — to account for their blasphemy while condemning the democrat party for its bloodthirsty crusade against the Lord and His Holy Roman Catholic Church.


About Author

Catholic News Agency columnist, author and speaker w/ particular focus on applying the hermeneutic of continuity to Vatican Council II.

  • noelfitz

    Mr Verrecchio writes with clarity and his position is clear. He considers Cardinal Dolan has sold out his faith and this is clearly shown when we read “Cardinal Dolan’s words and actions demonstrate with remarkable clarity just how comfortable he and so many others have become in selling out Christ the King”.

    Thus the choice is clear support Cardinal Dolan, the leader of the Catholic church in the US or Mr Verracchio. Do you support the Church or Mr Verracchio? Are you a faithful and loyal to the Catholic Church or not?

    Cardinal Dolan will attend and pray at the Democratic National Convention, will this encourage you to walk away from the Church?

    • A Catholic obeys the Lord by obeying the teachings of the bishops. Cardinal Dolan is not exercising his teaching office. As a private citizen he can invite whomever he wants to his dinner, and Catholics are obliged to nothing.

      Having said that, I’m still trying to figure out why the Cardinal invited Obama. I’d like to see O. get a public dressing-down but I doubt that will happen. I guess we can all stay tuned to see what happens next.

  • noelfitz

    PH, thanks for your reply.

    You wrote “Cardinal Dolan is not exercising his teaching office”. Does that mean he has lost his teaching authority and his leadership role in the Church and Catholics no longer owe him loyalty?

  • noelfitz

    Who am I to disagree with Mary and PH? But I have been a Catholic for over 70 years and the Catholic Church I was brought up in is a hierarchical one. As I have said before America is essentially a Protestant country and freedom and independence are valued. Thus the ordinary Catholic in the US seems to be able to tell pope, bishop or priest he is wrong.

    To tell the truth I also have a disagreement with Cardinal Dolan, who was the principal author of a leaked secret report that savaged in a brutal and ferocious way the Irish Church, from which it will find it hard to recover. A particular focus of the attack was the the Irish archbishops, including the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.

    Please look at:,,


    However the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Brown (another American) is trying to defuse the problem by praising Irish Catholics and encouraging them. It seems Rome realizes that destroying the moral of the Church in a country is not a very clever idea.

    • Mary Kochan

      Yeah, well destroying morale (I thnk that is the word you wanted) seems pretty much to be exactly what the faithful in this country get from our leaders. Can you even imagine from across the pond what a slap in the face to pro-lifers Dolan’s actions are?

  • noelfitz

    Thanks, Mary. I am embarrassed for using “moral” rather than “morale”.

    But, while we know where Paul Ryan stands I am not so sure of Romney. Please look at

    Romney has said he believes that abortion should be illegal but that exceptions should be allowed in cases of rape and incest. The rape allegation may be used to justify abortion on demand.

    Also look at, where I read “Romney has said he believes that abortion should be illegal but that exceptions should be allowed in cases of rape and incest.”

    When campaigning for governor of Massachusetts he was pro-choice and pro-gay. Please see, where I read “Meet Mitt Romney, the pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-environment Massachusetts politician”.

    Romney is “The man who lectured Ted Kennedy for not being as “consistently” pro-choice as he was” (

    We know where several Republicans stand, but Romney is still pro-choice. “Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, is pro-life, but would permit exceptions for rape and incest, and the mother’s life”. To allow abortion whenever a woman claims she was raped is being pro-choice (

    Can one trust a man who hides hundreds of millions in foreign secret accounts in Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other countries, who will not reveal his tax returns and has accumulated his vast fortune on the miseries of decent workers whose jobs were exported overseas?

    • Mary Kochan

      Wow. You should really consider a career as a quick-change artist. Way to go in not addressing the point.

  • goral

    Cardinal Dolan is a product of the “American church”.
    As such, he brandishes his status and influence as it suits him.
    In many ways that church is what Noelfitz describes as fiercely independent and laced with Protestantism.
    (Although he accuses those of us who question the stance of many of our clerics, of just that.)
    Dolan is not straying from Tradition as far as we can tell but he is demoralizing the faithful, as the Lady says and he’s failing to communicate any clarity in the behavioral public life of a Catholic.

    Dolan prayed with the Reps. and will pray with the Dems. Fine! Sinners, all of them (us).
    The question is what is he praying for and which policies and politicians have his blessing?
    That’s his real job.
    Has he read both platforms? Which one does he support?
    A Prince of the Church has a much higher calling than political theater.
    He can’t wear a cape that’s half read and half blue if he is to earn respect.
    He has our allegiance but he has to earn our respect.

  • wild rose

    Louie V. I admire your humility to admit a change of heart.

    More than a year ago our diocese received a newly ordained bishop who was ordained a bishop in our diocese. During the ordination ceremony the new bishop promised to be a Shepherd to people of all faiths. Archbishop Dolan is following Al Smith Dinner tradition of inviting the Presidential Candidates of each party. The Archbishop has a responsibility to be a Shepherd to both political Presidential Candidates.

  • goral

    Neither candidate is of the Catholic Faith therefore
    the Cardinal is not really serving them in a shepherding capacity, W. R.
    You could stretch that to their running mates, in which case, it might apply.
    As it is, the sheep are pretty scattered and confused.

  • wgsullivan

    We were discussing this situation after Mass yesterday and I mentioned the only way Cardinal Dolan can redeem himself is to address Mr.Obama as Mother Theresa did Bill & Hillary Clinton and Al Gore at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. There was absolutely no question left as to where she stood with the Truth. Pray and fast for Cardinal Dolan to do the same.

  • Celsa

    In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men… All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! If I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries. ~Pope St. Pius X, Discourse at the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc, Dec. 13, 1908