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Paul Ryan and Cardinal Dolan's Social Agenda: In Direct Opposition to Catholic Papal Teaching Paul Ryan and Cardinal Dolan's Social Agenda: In Direct Opposition to Catholic Papal Teaching
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-08-30 08:41:28
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A few days ago at a Town Hall sponsored by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a Catholic Dominican nun bluntly asked the Speaker to explain to her this conundrum: how his social agenda of privileging the rich one per centers at the detriment of the poor was any kind of Christian agenda within a Church that teaches a “preferred option for the poor” regarding health care and taxes, as clearly enunciated by the same Pope Francis.

True to form, Ryan answered with his usual five minute peroration in political talking points. That was to be expected. Were one to ask Ryan’s bishop the same question, I suspect we’d get a similar answer revealing the sorry place the American Catholic Church is at presently, especially when represented by its higher clergy.

The truth is that when the higher clergy struck a deal with the devil, by joining cause with a president and its entourage with no discernible ethical compass, they in effect betrayed the social teaching of the Catholic Church. The deal was this: we will support you politically, Mr. Trump, as long as you support tightening restrictions on abortion and denying access to birth control to millions of poor women. This is a narrow vision indeed. How so?

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Cardinal Dolan of New York                                  Pope Francis

Let us first consider the following facts: earlier this year, the United States abandoned stewardship of the planet by withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and rolling back environmental protections. But the health of the planet is such an overriding moral issue for the Pope that he has declared indifference to the destruction of the environment one of the “sins against creation.” As immigrants are being deported, draconian budget cuts to programs serving the poor are being proposed, and White Supremacists and neo-Nazis now feel emboldened to march openly on college campuses.

In the light of those events, the more judicious Catholics are beginning to realize that the presence of a few high-profile Catholics in the White House does not translate into having much influence on Trump’s agenda, as declared during his campaign. Such and agenda, as abetted by the likes of “good Catholics” such as Bannon and Ryan, is unable to distinguish between Americans who support racial justice and civil rights, and those whose rhetoric is one of hate and exclusion. After the Charlottesville outrage the silence of Christian faith leaders was deafening. It was left to corporate executives to speak out against it forcefully.

It is important to remember also that before Charlottesville, a Catholic journal close to the Vatican, Civiltà Cattolica, published an essay accusing conservative pro-Trump Catholics of complicity in an “alliance of hate.” Also important to remember that Cardinal Dolan failed to withdraw his request to the Vatican to give VIP status to the then Fox News star Bill O’Reilly (another “good Catholic”) despite the growing charges of sexual harassment swirling around him. Ironically O’Reilly was terminated by Fox News on the very day he was shaking hands with the pope.

Cardinal Dolan is fond of reminding Catholics and other Christians that if they are not able to “have a say in the direction of our beloved country, there will be a huge void in the market place of ideas that will be filled by a new religion called secularism.”

The question arises: to what might Cardinal Dolan be referring to? Could it be the founding fathers of the US who were quite clear that every citizen should be afforded to practice or not to practice the religion of his/her choice? It is strange that he seems to have gotten a bout of amnesia when it comes to remembering that they also expressed an aversion to any state-sponsored religion. Secularism based on the fundamental values of justice and civility looked good to them, and it looks good to those who value reason rather than extremism and fanaticism nowadays. It is in fact a good alternative to those types of “good Catholics” who seem to predominate in the White House, which has produced so far a nation torn apart and in turmoil at home and its standing in the world crumbling as we speak.

The ineluctable fact is that there is indeed “a huge void” and chasm in the US but it is not the one mentioned by Cardinal Dolan. It is rather the one he and other clerics like him and a cohort of “good Catholics” have helped create. There is little doubt that American democracy as well as American Catholicism faces a huge existential challenge. Thank God for the likes of the courageous Dominical nun who dared ask an impertinent question to the “good Catholic” Speaker of the House. If this country is to be saved from committing political suicide, we will need more like her.

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Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's NEW BOOK
"The Caligula Presidency: A Satirical Debunking Critique"
is online now and you can download it for FREE HERE!

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Check also Dr Emanuel Paparella's other EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them all for FREE HERE!
 
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