Cardinal Dolan’s public flattery of Trump forgets a few things

I wonder whether the U.S. Catholic bishops have crossed a sort of Rubicon recently.

When their Roman predecessor, the general Julius Caesar, brought his army illegally over the Rubicon River, he set in motion the events that ended the Republic and saw him presented with a crown. “The die is cast,” he is reputed to have said as he marched his army toward Rome: there was no going back. What he had done could not be undone and it would change the shape of history.

I do not think that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan is in any danger of being crowned emperor (or, anything else). But I do believe that his public flattery of President Donald Trump from the pulpit of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and on Fox News may prove to be a moment from which American Catholicism cannot turn back.

Smart analysts have interpreted the cardinal’s blandishments as a savvy effort to smooth-talk the president into devoting stimulus funds to help Catholic schools that, no doubt, will struggle in the post-pandemic environment. Maybe that is what the cardinal thinks he is doing. Maybe it even looks smart from one point-of-view. But it seems to me that we have to overlook a lot to see how smart the cardinal is being.

Dolan praised Trump’s sensitivity to the “feelings of the religious community” on Fox News. Think about that.

Cardinal Dolan’s homily praising Donald Trump

Then, think about this. “I think Islam hates us,” or, “The children of Muslim American parents, they’re responsible for a growing number for whatever reason a growing number of terrorist attacks,” or think about what Trump said after the Supreme Court struck down his first travel ban that fulfilled his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” — “Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.”

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