The Archdiocese of New York, the same archdiocese headed up by the most outspoken bishop against the Obama administration's "contraception mandate", has invited President Obama, the most pro-abortion, anti-Catholic president in history, to speak at the the Al Smith Dinner, an event organized by and for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
This act of blatant hypocrisy, of course, ignited a firestorm. However, will the equivocating and disingenuous defense of the invitation by the archdiocese's Director of the Safe Environment Program and Family Life/Respect Life Office, Mr. Ed Mechmann, ignite equal indignation? If it doesn't then faithful Catholics are missing the obvious when it comes to the novus ordo establishment currently in control of our Catholic institutions.
Mr. Mechmann's response to the archdiocese's critics can be read here. This piece is probably the most over the top example of equivocation I've seen in a long time, but more troubling is the theological and philosophical attitude at the root of Mr. Mechmann's defense of the indefensible.
First, his equivocations.
Mr. Mechmann claims that this is not a "religious" event; it is, he says, merely, a civic event.
No, the Al Smith Dinner is not a religious event like Mass or Vespers, or, to get closer to Mr. Mechmann's brand of Catholicism, a Communal Reconciliation Service. It is, however, obviously a Catholic event. In fact, there's no way to argue this dinner is not a Catholic event by looking at the facts. This event is organized by a foundation that is headed by Cardinal Dolan who is the Archbishop of New York; the money raised by the event is given to the Archdiocese of New York; the event, itself, is intended as a celebration of the first Catholic to run for the Office of the President of the United States, Al Smith. It is Catholic from inception to completion, thus to characterize the dinner is as just another "civic" event is worse than disingenuous; it is an outright lie.
Mr. Mechmann insists that unlike the treason perpetuated at the University of Notre Dame in May of 2009, the Archdiocese is not giving an award or honoring President Obama, thus any comparison between the two is invalid.
To say that Obama is not being honored is to ask us to re-define the word "honor". If you told me I was invited to speak at the Al Smith dinner, I would consider that a great honor. Does anyone doubt that President Obama and his anti-Catholic staff are snickering at the fact that Obama, who hates the Church, is going to be honored by the Archdiocese of New York and Cardinal Dolan? Obama's campaign advisers are at this very moment thinking up ways to use the images of Cardinal Dolan laughing it up with Obama, shaking his hand and slapping him on the back at a Catholic fundraiser. Ed Mechmann by the use of his twisted and dishonest logic might not interpret it as an "honor", but no one else is as twisted or dishonest as Ed.
In what situation can someone be invited to speak at a Catholic event, to be one of the keynote speakers, no less, and it not be considered an honor? Every honest person clearly sees a similarity between this and what happened at the University of Notre Dame. For Cardinal Dolan to condemn one and then do the other is the height of hypocrisy.
There's no way for Mechmann to get around the issue. Despite his equivocations, the Obama invitation amounts to nothing less than yet another treason against Holy Mother Church and Catholics everywhere. Mechmann scoffs at the possibility that inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner will somehow soften the Church's teachings regarding the sanctity of life, marriage and the conjugal act, or the freedom and exaltation that ought to be enjoyed by the Holy Catholic Church (or as Mechmann more than likely waters it down, "religious liberty"). But that is not the point the critics are making. The critics realize, like all faithful Catholics, that nothing Mechmann does or says or nothing that his bishop does or says will ever change what Holy Mother Church teaches about life or marriage. However, it most definitely is the case that Mechmann's and Dolan's words and actions are inappropriate in light of the Church's teachings, and, in fact, undermines the Church's teachings in practice, and causes scandal. From a base marketing standpoint, these words and actions cause the world and its media to jeer at the “hypocrisy of the Church”, not that the Church is hypocritical, but the media wants and easily equates Dolan's hypocrisy to the Church he governs. In fact, the media in New York has already made the connection between the Notre Dame treason and Dolan's treason. And, no matter Mechmann's equivocations, so do we.
Mr. Mechmann says that the invitation is a sign of "civility".
Showing “civility” to our enemies isn’t the goal, though. Nowhere does Our Blessed Lord tell us to “show civility to your enemies”. Rather, He tells us to love our enemies. How can inviting Obama over for supper, giving him a pulpit to espouse his position, glad-handing him, wining him and dining him, all the while giving him the impression that belief in what the Church teaches regarding life, marriage and the conjugal act, and the freedom and exultation that ought to be enjoyed by the Catholic Church ("religious liberty" if you will) can be put on the back-burner to achieve a higher goal of dissipating "toxic politics", be construed as loving our enemy? It can't! Cardinal Dolan is telling Obama a lie, and under no circumstances can telling lies for the sake expediency be considered an act of love.
If the likes of Mechmann and Cardinal Dolan want to treat President Obama with “civility”, by all means they may. Perhaps while their lawyers are fighting over the rights of Catholics in the courts, Mechmann and Cardinal Dolan can refrain from calling Obama a whitened sepulcher, or perhaps they can refrain from calling Obama a blind guide. If that level of civility helps Cardinal Dolan sleep at night, then fine. However, when this "civility" passes the boundaries of common sense and the dictates of our faith, when it goes to the level of endorsing a man who is pro-abortion, anti-Catholic, and an avowed Socialist, in short, when this "civility" stoops to endorsing a public enemy of the Church of Christ, then Cardinal Dolan's "civility" is just plain foolishness, and it is repulsive to faithful Catholics everywhere.
But all these equivocations are facial excuses for something else: an attitude straight out of the Modernist heresy that is espoused by Mechmann and too many of our churchmen. We see this attitude in Mechmann's concern about being "non-partisan". Mr. Mechmann characterized the criticism of the Obama invitation as "partisan". In reality the critics don't care what party President Obama comes from or how the invite relates to any given person's political party affiliation. The only thing that matters to the critics is that President Obama and his administration, never mind their party affiliation, is the most pro-abortion and anti-Catholic the country has ever had, and this enemy of the Church is being honored by Cardinal Dolan.
Mechmann, I'm sure realizes this, but characterizing the critics as partisan demonstrates where Mechmann and his ilk are really coming from. He insists that the Al Smith Dinner is a "break" in the partisan and "toxic politics". If that is the case, though, then what political Party does Mechmann assign the defense of the unborn, the defense of marriage, the defense of the Catholic Church and Catholics?
If putting aside this "debate" for an evening of "civility" is a break in partisan politics, then Mechmann is saying that the Catholic objection to the mandate is merely partisan politics! Incredible! I'm not sure Mechmann realizes that this is what he is saying, but he most certainly did, and he did it so easily because at the root of his thinking is religious indifferentism. Mechmann, along with the rest of the novus ordo establishment's intelligentsia consider this whole thing as a debate between equals. Instead of framing the Church's arguments around actual Church teachings about the evils of artificial contraception, abortion, and the achievement of the freedom that the Church and Catholics ought to enjoy, the novus ordo churchmen have framed their side of the debate in terms of a faulty "religious liberty" argument that assumes that what the Church teaches is just one voice among many, not necessarily right or wrong, and is no better than any other belief or moral system.
In this world of religious indifferentism, Obama's moral conclusions regarding human life, marriage, and the freedom of the Church is just as valid as what the Church teaches. While Dolan and other Catholics might disagree with Obama, that's a Catholic problem, not a problem for the rest of the country. The only thing that these churchmen ask is that Obama leave them alone on these issues. In the meantime, the churchmen will slap Obama's back, and beg his friendship for those things they admire or agree with him on.
Which leaves us to guess what it is that Mechmann and Dolan admire about Obama. Is it Obama's statist Socialism that seeks to rob from the rich and put in the pockets of his cronies? Are they vying for a piece of that pie if Obama should win a second term? Whatever it is, they certainly aren't treating Obama as the enemy of the Church he has proven himself to be.
My children are at an age when they are striking out on their own and starting to make friends outside of our family's immediate circle. I constantly have to remind them that they have to choose their friends carefully, and that not everyone, no matter how popular, bright, attractive or smart he might be, makes for a suitable friend, and this is especially true when it comes to the supernatural. If someone hates our Catholic faith, he hates us! If someone hates our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, he hates us! If someone hates God and His Law, he hates us! There's no getting around this. I tell the kids, "Jesus said that we should love our enemies, but He never told us to make our enemies our friends."
Mechmann and Cardinal Dolan want to be friends with Obama, but unless Obama converts, he will always hate the Catholic faith, Christ, and God's law. If Mechmann and Cardinal Dolan are true to their Catholic faith, then they have to realize Obama hates them just as much. What then is over-riding their common sense? I suspect that Cardinal Dolan and Ed Mechmann desire the company and companionship of President Obama because they desire to be in the company of power and prestige. I also suspect that Cardinal Dolan and Ed Mechmann are in agreement with many of Obama's statist, liberal and Socialist policies.
Simply speaking, Cardinal Dolan and Ed Mechmann want to bask in Obama's glow, and the rest of us Catholics be damned.