City of God: A Call for Unity
Joseph Jablonski, Class of 2015
August 30, 2012
Filed under Quill
Welcome to the bi-weekly column, City of God. The title is taken from the famous work by Saint Augustine, whose feast day was just celebrated on Tuesday. This series will comment on events concerning the Church in America in an attempt to seek unity despite differences of belief or morality. This search for unity is part of the lifelong call to love our neighbor and build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. In doing so, I will adhere myself to the theology and morality of the Magisterium.
Even writing from such a perspective, I believe that both the country and the Church are immersed in toxic internal conflicts that transcend mere disagreements. Catholics more frequently label themselves as “liberal” or “conservative,” “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” reflecting divisions that exist in the political sphere. Yet we know Christ’s love isn’t meant to be so divisive and conflicting. Pursuing peace isn’t always a case of who is right and who is wrong, but rather comes from dialogue and engagement with different cultures.
Thus I am not a conservative pointing fingers at liberals, but a Catholic pointing fingers at those who seek division over unity. I also will acknowledge heroes whose goals aren’t winning a culture war, but establishing cultural peace. (Disagreements with my opinions are welcome. We Catholics should seek together the best path to peace. I not only expect but encourage responses!).
Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, in the midst of American partisanship, is one such cultural peacemaker attempting to pursue unity. Cardinal Dolan first rocked the Catholic community in August when, in keeping with tradition, he invited both presidential candidates to the Al Smith Dinner, a Catholic-hosted public fundraiser. Many “conservative” Catholics, including Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, criticized Dolan for inviting Obama, citing Obama’s support for the HHS mandate, which many feel is a serious violation of religious freedom.
These concerns were eased when Mitt Romney himself announced on EWTN (the Eternal Word Television Network) that Cardinal Dolan would offer the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention. Others then accused Dolan of politicking, despite the fact that the Cardinal had also offered to pray at the Democratic National Convention. When this information became public, the Democratic National Committee accepted the offer.
Thus, “America’s Pope,” as some call him, has achieved a historic first: offering benediction at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. In doing this, I believe that he seeks to directly and dynamically embody the idea that all Catholic social teaching, from abortion and contraception to universal healthcare and war, shouldn’t and won’t be simply reduced to a partisan political struggle. In the contemporary Catholic environment, divided by political ties, this demonstration of Catholicism’s universal nature is an important witness to fellow Catholics. My next column in this series will further address this topic.
Read more by the author at www.gaudiumdei.com.