Apology and Praise

September 1, 2009 at 9:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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My friend from college, Celia Deutsch, came over for dinner Friday night. Celia is a Sister of Sion who teaches at Barnard and is active in Jewish-Catholic dialogue and scholarship internationally, nationally, and here in the diocese of Brooklyn. During our conversation Celia assured me that our bishop, Bishop DiMarzio, did not say what I quote him as saying in my previous post–that you can’t be a faithful Catholic and support Obama. Several other  acquaintances said something to this effect in my presence, but Celia is the Rock of Gibraltar, so I offer my apologies to the bishop. If only she could assure us that no other American bishops have said such a thing.

One who is certainly not doing so is Michael J. Sheehan, the archbishop of Sante Fe, New Mexico.  Sheehan, in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter on August 12, “decried” the combative tactics of the minority of U.S. bishops who spoke out against the honorary degree awarded by the University of Notre Dame to President Obama last June. These bishops’ opposition, according to the article, was based on the president’s refusal to advocate the criminalization of abortion.

“I believe in collaboration,” the article quotes the archbishop as saying. “I worked under Cardinal Bernardin and he taught me how to collaborate, how to consult. So I am very committed to the concept called shared responsibility. I think involving people in the process all the way along – my priests, my lay people, I am open to talking to them, working with them. Consultation, collaboration, building bridges not burning them. And you can get so much done when you have collaboration and you build the bridge with other people, whether it’s priests or laypeople, deacons, whoever.”

Such a collaborative approach, Sheehan noted, brought New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson around to opposing the deathy penalty, something he had long supported. The single-issue approach is counter-productive, Sheehan argued, comparing it–in a statement not calculated to advance Amish-Catholic dialogue!–to the apporach of the Amish: “We’d be like the Amish, you know, kind of isolated from society, if we kept pulling back because of a single issue.” Both the Vatican and the majority of American bishops oppose such a single-issue approach, he added, as well as the use of sanctions like the refusal of communion to enforce it.

The article concludes with this final quote: ““I seek to teach, to teach, and not to use sanctions. To teach, to talk to people. Like I say, we got more done this year with the state legislature by connecting with people and by saying our piece in a hopefully reasonable, and not an emotional and hysterical, way. Hysterical activity doesn’t bear fruit, and there’s been some hysteria in these areas.”


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