Fact Check: Obama Did Not Call Benghazi an “Act of Terror”

October 16, 2012

In the wake of the U.S. Catholic Bishops having come out with a statement saying that Vice President Biden lied about Obamacare violating Catholic religious freedom during the debate last week,  BCI takes a break from Catholicism for a moment to respond to something we just saw in the Town Hall meeting between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Obama said he had referred to the Benghazi assault as an “act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the assault.  The moderator claimed Obama was correct and agreed with him.  That is not really the fact at all.  Commentary summarized this well:

Obama said during the speech that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” — but at no point was it clear that he was using that term to describe the attack in Benghazi. He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. “Acts of terror” could have just as easily been a reference to that. Or maybe it wasn’t a direct reference to anything, just a generic, reassuring line he’d added into a speech which did take place, after all, the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

From the White House, here is what Obama said:

…Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi…

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

From Commentary:

“If Obama wanted to call the Benghazi assault a terrorist attack in that speech, he had plenty of opportunities to do so. Instead, he described it as a “terrible act,” a “brutal” act, “senseless violence,” and called the attackers “killers,” not terrorists. It’s also important to consider the context. For a week after this speech, the White House would not call it a terrorist attack. The official position was that Libya was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam film, not a premeditated or preplanned act.

Some may wonder why it even matters. Maybe Obama really was referring to Benghazi as an “act of terror” in the speech, and he just failed to make that clear enough — so what?

Actually, this is much more than an issue of semantics. Calling it a terrorist attack would have given Obama powers under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) to use military action, including drone warfare, against the perpetrators. If he were serious about “bring[ing] to justice the killers,” which he vowed to do in the speech, then labeling this incident a terrorist attack (if he believed that’s what it was) would have been critical.

It seems to BCI that “No acts of terror..” (note plural “acts”) following his comments that commemorated American deaths in “9/11” and “Iraq and Afghanistan” is a general reference to any act of terror. In contrast, when he describes “…this terrible act,” he is referring to the Benghazi assault, which he did not specifically describe as a “terrorist act.” We all know that UN Ambassador Susan Rice also made the rounds of Sunday morning news/talk shows 5 days after the assault and said the assault has apparently come from the spontaneous protest against the anti-Islam video. National Review reminds us that, “According to U.S. law, acts of terrorism are premeditated. The Obama administration’s line for days following Obama’s Rose Garden statement suggested that the attack wasn’t premeditated.”

Though technically Obama did use the words, “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden speech, he did not say the Libya act was an act of terrorism. If the White House and President Obama wanted to tell the U.S. that the assault was an “act of terror,” why did they not actually do that for nearly two weeks after the assault?

The mainstream media will probably distort this, or will not report this.  We wonder if the Romney campaign is sharp enough to get the facts out.

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How Boston Archdiocese Justifies Keeping Obama Fund-Raiser Around

August 25, 2012

We shift back to Boston, to share with you today an explanation from the Boston Archdiocese about how they justify keeping Jack Connors on the Finance Council, despite his public fundraising for political figures who oppose the Catholic Church.

BCI has posted a number of times about Connors in the past.  In Stop the Scandal in 2011, we raised the concern that Conners was publicly supporting and raising money for pro-abortion politicians (ie. President Obama) at the same time he is raising money for Catholic schools, has Finance Council oversight for archdiocesan fundraising and is influencing the direction of Catholic education. Nothing happened. This past June in our post on Fortnight for Freedom, we raised the concern again–this time, when Connors hosted a $40,000/person fundraiser for President Obama this afternoon.  We asked, how is it we can have a member of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance Council responsible for Institutional Advancement who is working against the Catholic Church by publicly fundraising for a politician who wants to violate our religious freedom?  It seemed to BCI that was scandalous.

Well, an alert BCI reader apparently agreed and filed a complaint via Ethicpoint, the anonymous whistleblower program set-up for reporting violations of the archdiocesan Code of Conduct. The archdiocese was obliged to respond. The complaint says that these public actions by Connors violated the archdiocesan Code of Conduct policy, which says Church personnel should ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.”  Below is the original complaint, the response by the archdiocese, and a response by the complainant, to which the archdiocese never responded.

ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Report Submission Date
6/28/2012

Reported Company/Branch Information

Location

Public square and in mainstream media

City/State/Zip

Braintree, MA, U.S.

 

Violation Information
Issue Type
Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior
Please identify the person(s) engaged in this behavior:
Jack Connors – Archdiocesan Finance Council, Chair, Campaign for Catholic Schools
Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?
Do Not Know / Do Not Wish To Disclose
If yes, then who?
Cardinal O’Malley
Is management aware of this problem?
Do Not Know / Do Not Wish To Disclose
What is the general nature of this matter?
The Code of Conduct says that church personnel will ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.” Jack Connors has just done the opposite. On the same day when Cardinal O’Malley hosted a town hall forum to rally support for religious freedom and opposition to the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic institutions pay for contraception coverage, Mr. Connors very publicly raised $1 million for the campaign of President Obama, who is leading the charge to violate our religious freedom:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/

Church personnel raising money for a politician whose policies serve to undermine the welfare of the archdiocese sounds like a violation of the code of conduct. It says “Church personnal will conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops in communion with him; more specifically, Church Personnel shall, in all such matters, accept, rely upon and defer to the teaching authority of the Archbishop in all matters of faith and morals.

Where did this incident or violation occur?
June 25, 2012
Please provide the specific or approximate time this incident occurred:
4pm. see:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/
How long do you think this problem has been going on?
More than a year
How did you become aware of this violation?
Other
If other, how?
newspaper articles
Details
4pm fundraiser on Monday, June 25 for President Obama.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/

“Obama spent more than an hour inside Hamersley’s Bistro, whose front windows were covered, while hundreds of people waited on Tremont Street for a glimpse of him. Boston’s police commissioner, Ed Davis, joined the heavy-security team of city police, State Police, and Secret Service on Clarendon Street, where the president’s limousine was parked. At the restaurant, 25 supporters, hosted by Boston advertising executive Jack Connors, paid $40,000 each to attend.”

http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2012/06/21/president-obama-will-make-campaign-swing-through-boston-monday-for-series-fundraisers/xsNzFx2AGik11AuhVSGd0H/story.html

Obama will first attend an intimate campaign roundtable at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End with 25 supporters who paid $40,000 each to attend, said a campaign official. The afternoon gathering will be hosted by Boston advertising magnate Jack Connors, who last spring held a $17,900-a-head dinner at his Brookline home for the president.

Follow-Up Notes
There are no additional notes for this report.

RESPONSE FROM THE BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE:

Follow-Up Questions/Comments
Jul 10, 2012, 9:43 AM
Comment: Members of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance  Council provide the Archdiocese of Boston with  their well-established business acumen and  experience in productive, fiscally stable organizations. As they do so, these individuals donate generously of their time and talent. The Archdiocese of Boston asks these individuals to serve in this and other capacities with full confidence that they adhere faithfully to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, act in a manner which is fully in accordance with the Archdiocesan Code of Conduct, and conduct themselves as all Catholics are called to—with care, concern and compassion for others,
especially those who are in need.

In their support of organizations apart from the Archdiocese, Finance Council members find themselves immersed in diverse settings, replete with the full variety of moral beliefs and human behaviors. As free and private citizens, Finance Council members are at liberty to invest their time and energy in any manner they deem fit and to support those programs and policies, and at times individuals, which they have determined contribute to the common good and the well-being of society. The Archdiocese believes that the support of these programs, policies, and/or individuals reflects the Finance Council members’ own understanding of the human condition, the moral responsibility of each individual, and the collective responsibilities of the populace.

As individuals who value their privacy, Finance Council members are not obligated to make public the rationale behind their decisions to support various organizations, programs, and persons. The Church respects the right of the individual to personal conscience formation. The reality of this personal moral and ethical worldview informs Cardinal O’Malley’s solicitation of the Finance Council members’ service to the Archdiocese and, at times, acceptance of their generous financial assistance. That a Finance Council member may offer his/her backing to a politician or political candidate who is in support of pro-choice policies does not define or exhaust a Finance Council member’s position on issues pertaining to respect for life. Instead, it objectively speaks to the Finance Council member’s willingness to engage with and find value and merit in the opinions, ideals, and visions of individuals with a wide variety of moral stances, which at various times are more or less in line with the teachings of the Church. Furthermore, though he/she may provide his/her time and support to certain institutions which allow for individuals to elect to participate in activities that do not respect the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life, no current Finance Council member has publicly advocated abortions as suitable moral options for these individuals. To assume that a Finance Council member is pro-choice and actively in support of abortions because of his/her political affiliations and/or institutional support is an unfair assumption and not one the Archdiocese is willing to use in judging candidates for the Council.

Turning to political activities specifically, the support of a pro-choice politician by a Catholic has been addressed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (2007). In this document, the Bishops state,

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. […] In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the Bishops recognize that the political field is not one characterized by ideal candidates who at all times and in all cases uphold the full array of Catholic moral truths. Consequently, Catholic voters are tasked with examining imperfect candidates according to Catholic teaching on matters “affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace” and “consider[ing] candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance.” The whole of Catholic social teaching should be considered when a Catholic makes a valuation of a given political candidate. Although the principles articulated in the USCCB statement can find expression in differing concrete political choices by individual Catholics, one should presume that the choices have been made conscientiously and in good faith.

Through their dedicated service, the members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council have repeatedly shown their love for the Church and their desire to see it flourish and provide the framework by which the people of the Archdiocese of Boston may be nourished physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Cardinal O’Malley trusts that the moral convictions of the Finance Council members are firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching and are designed to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Archdiocese believes that the decisions the Finance Council members make as citizens and as Catholics, although opposed by some, are neither in violation of Catholic teaching nor do they bring about scandal. Rather, the Archdiocese feels they are a reflection of the difficult decisions which must be made in a less than perfect world, one which the Finance Council members actively and tirelessly seek to improve through their faithful service to Christ and His Church.

RESPONSE FROM THE PERSON WHO FILED THE COMPLAINT
Jul 12, 2012, 6:15 AM
Reply: Thank you for your response–however I’m a bit confused by it. I didn’t say anything about abortion and your whole response is about a Finance Council member’s support for pro-choice politicians. My complaint was about Jack Connors’ support for Obama while he is actively working to take away our religious freedom. Now that I’ve read your response, I have several follow-up points and questions.

i) Specifically what sort of positions or actions would constitute “scandal” for a Finance Council member to give their support to? For example, if the politician supported by a Finance Council member advocated for ethnic cleansing, would that still be permissible without creating scandal? If the politician advocated for legalization of premeditated murder, child pornography, or sex between adults and young children, is it still OK for the Finance Council to publicly support the politician and this does not create scandal, because the person has the right to form their own conscience?

ii) The Code of Conduct says that church personnel will ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.” Since President Obama and his administration opposes the freedom of religion for this Catholic archdiocese which harms the Catholic Church and could impose substantial financial penalties on us, how exactly can Mr. Connors’ fund-raising to re-elect President Obama promote the welfare of the archdiocese? How does fund-raising for the most pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-traditional marriage, anti-Catholic and anti-religious freedom President this country has ever had–in opposition to the moral teachings of the Church– “exemplify the moral traditions of the Church”? I don’t understand your rationale. Can you explain further?

3) In your response, you said, “Cardinal O’Malley trusts that the moral convictions of the Finance Council members are firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching and are designed to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Archdiocese believes that the decisions the Finance Council members make as citizens and as Catholics, although opposed by some, are neither in violation of Catholic teaching nor do they bring about scandal.”

Has Cardinal O’Malley actually asked Finance Council members if their moral convictions are in keeping with Catholic moral teaching and support protection of human life from conception to natural death, as well as marriage between one man and one woman, and religious freedom from government interference? Is that specifically a prerequisite for becoming a member of the Finance Council? If not, why not? What if you asked and found a Finance Council member answering honestly said they did not agree with Catholic doctrine and moral teachings? Then what?

This report has been closed.

Follow-Up Statements
The organization sent these questions or comments before report was closed. You cannot respond.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BCI finds the response from the Boston Archdiocese to be most revealing. At last we have some explanation for how the Boston Archdiocese justifies keeping Jack around.  As long as the money is green, it does not matter what he does in his “private” life, even if those actions publicly harm the Catholic Church.  Matthew 6:24 comes to mind, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

What do you think?


Doubts About Dolan’s Defense of Dinner

August 15, 2012

Cardinal Dolan has come out with a blog post explaining the decision to invite President Obama to the Al Smith dinner .  We are glad that Cardinal Dolan has at last given an explanation in his own words.  But, his defense still leaves us, along with many Catholics, shaking our heads with doubts about the decision. Below are excerpts from the blog post by Cardinal Dolan, with our commentary inline. We would like to give Cardinal Dolan the benefit of the doubt, but we remain skeptical.

Last week I was out in Anaheim for the annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. It was, as usual, a most uplifting and inspirational event.

In his rousing address to the thousands of delegates, representing 1.8 million knights, Dr. Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight, exhorted us to a renewed sense of faithful citizenship, encouraging us not to be shy about bringing the values of faith to the public square…

He then went on to announce a promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics…

[BCI] Where has the civility displayed in recent years by the Knights toward pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage politicians who are also members of the K of C gotten them? Has it changed any hearts, minds or votes of these so-called “Catholic” Knights in elected office who consistently act in defiance of our moral principles? If it was producing some impact, then great–by all means keep at it. But if it is not producing any change, maybe displaying yet more civility towards them is not a winning approach. If the “carrot” approach does not motivate change, then try the stick instead.

For seven decades, the Al Smith Dinner here in New York has been an acclaimed example of such civility in political life. As you may know, every four years, during the presidential election campaign, the Al Smith Dinner is the venue of history, as it is the only time outside of the presidential debates that the two presidential candidates come together, at the invitation of the Al Smith Foundation, through the archbishop of New York, for an evening of positive, upbeat, patriotic, enjoyable civil discourse.  This year, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accepted our invitation. I am grateful to them.

[BCI] With all due respect, so what if the dinner has been an example of civility in political life for seven decades? What became of the civil discourse with candidate Obama 4 years ago at this same dinner? Now his policies that violate our religious freedom and mandate contraceptive coverage could result in the shut-down of Catholic Charities, a beneficiary of the dinner.  We have never had as anti-Catholic a President as we have today, who is working as actively and in as un-civil a manner as Obama to oppose all of our moral principles and religious freedoms. If the dinner now causes scandal by the invitation and presence of Obama or other pro-abortion anti-Catholic politicians, should it continue this way just because it has been held for a while?  

…I am receiving stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama (and by the way, even some objecting to the invitation to Governor Romney).

[BCI] Glad to hear the mail is getting through. In Boston, our mail to the Cardinal does not get through to him at all.

The objections are somewhat heightened this year, since the Catholic community in the United States has rightly expressed vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license, and his approval of mandates which radically intruded upon Freedom of Religion. We bishops, including yours truly, have been unrelenting in our opposition to these issues, and will continue to be.

[BCI] The objections have been massively heightened this year. We appreciate your vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license and your criticism of his mandates that radically intrude upon our Freedom of Religion.  Do you plan to be unrelenting in your vigorous criticism of the President’s support for abortion and intrusion on our Freedom of Religion in your public comments at the Al Smith dinner?

So, my correspondents ask, how can you justify inviting the President? Let me try to explain.

For one, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner is not an award, or the provision of a platform to expound views at odds with the Church. It is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.

[BCI] No one has said the invitation to the dinner is an award. But the USCCB, of which Cardinal Dolan is President, has also said we should not honor or give platforms to those who act in defiance of our moral principles, which Obama clearly does. How is it not an honor to be the keynote featured speaker at a nationally-known fundraiser?  How is it not an honor to be the dinner guest of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and President of the USCCB? And even if Obama does not use this specific dinner as an occasion to expound views at odds with the Church, the dinner by this Catholic organization and hosted by the Catholic Archbishop of NY is still is giving Obama a public platform that suggests support for his actions. The Foundation website says, “Indeed, the occasion has evolved into something of an opportunity for speakers – particularly ones whose mien is typically quite serious – to show, through quips and slightly irreverent humor, that they can poke fun at a political issue, an opponent, or themselves.” This sounds like a platform.  To honor or give a platform to those who act in defiance of our moral principles is contrary to the direction from the USCCB in their 2004 document, Catholics in Political Life.

Two, the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

[BCI] Interesting how the spin about the purpose of the Al Smith dinner keeps changing. The Foundation says the dinner is “a living memorial to an uncommon public figure.”  The Foundation also says, in the days before Saturday Night Live, the Al Smith dinner served as a kind of “proving ground for the candidate as entertainer,” as one reporter described it.

Three, the teaching of the Church, so radiant in the Second Vatican Council, is that the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue. In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one. Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements. Thus did our present Holy Father graciously receive our current President of the United States.  And, in the current climate, we bishops have maintained that we are open to dialogue with the administration to try and resolve our differences.  What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

[BCI] With all due respect, this seems to be comparing apples and bananas. Recent popes have received leaders who visited the Vatican and asked to meet with the Holy Father.  These one-on-one meetings have taken place in a private audience behind closed doors and are an opportunity to engage in dialogue. Sometimes photos have not been allowed (e.g. with Nancy Pelosi).  The very public Al Smith fundraiser dinner is hardly an opportunity to engage in discourse and dialogue to try and resolve differences with the administration.  Furthermore, by not exercising the option to invite Obama, that does not say you are “refusing to meet with the President.” If the President invites you to the White House to meet with him to discuss how to resolve our serious disagreements, by all means you should accept the invitation and meet with him.

Finally, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values, particularly the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom. In fact, one could make the case that anyone attending the dinner, even the two candidates, would, by the vibrant solidarity of the evening, be reminded that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion, assemble on behalf of poor women and their babies, born and unborn, in a spirit of civility and respect.

[BCI] So the dinner will include Cardinal Dolan vigorously promoting values including the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom? Does anyone really believe that Obama will come away believing that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion in ways that the President is actively taking away from us, assemble on behalf of poor women and their unborn babies that Obama uses taxpayer dollars to kill in the womb? Did attending the dinner in 2008 as a presidential candidate change Obama and make him more supportive of Catholic moral principles? If what we have seen since then from Obama is a reflection of what he got from the 2008 dinner, can we take any more?

Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So, I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?

[BCI] We appreciate that you have come to see that the invitation is seen by many faithful Catholics as a scandal, and we also appreciate your apology.   There was not scandal in past years when pro-abortion candidates were not invited to the dinner, so it seems that you have indeed given more scandal by inviting the two candidates. The question now is, what do you plan to do since you have given such scandal to the country?

No matter what you might think of this particular decision, might I ask your prayers for me and my brother bishops and priests who are faced with making these decisions, so that we will be wise and faithful shepherds as God calls us to be?

[BCI] You have our prayers.

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

[BCI] With all due respect, this example of Jesus, who dined with sinners in private to try to convert them is being used once again to compare apples and oranges. Judie Brown, of the American Life League, put it well in this column, What Would Jesus Do?

While it is true that Jesus dined with sinners, it was for the purpose of converting their hearts, of teaching them His laws, and of inspiring them to change sinful behaviors. President Obama has been invited to dine with Cardinal Dolan and others, but the goals of this dinner are not the same goals Jesus held. Today’s commentary addresses this and explains why we are beseeching the cardinal to have his own change of heart. 

Immediately after we launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign, a concerned Catholic wrote to us and said:

      Did not Jesus Himself dine with, seek the company of, and take audience with sinners, tax collectors, rabbis, and Pharisees who all believed and preached falsities? Who are we to stray from His example? Who are we to discriminate against a leader of many instead of dining with him, and trying to convince him of the true word of Jesus Christ?

My initial reaction was to feel sorrow for this fellow because he was sincerely trying to excuse the public embrace by members of the hierarchy of a man who has done nothing to advance any precept of the natural law. Obama is not confused about what he is doing to the Church. His actions are, and have been, intentional.

Furthermore, as author and columnist Phil Lawler wrote recently,

      When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were private. They were not “photo ops” for political candidates. The Lord could speak directly to the hearts of his dining companions, and convert them. Remember, St. Matthew left the tax-collecting business to follow Christ. Does anyone believe that after the Al Smith Dinner, Obama will decide to rescind the contraceptive mandate?

Following the dinner, America will see front-page photos and stories that feature Cardinal Dolan sitting with Obama, laughing and having a great time. Such images send a message to America that all is well between the leader of the United States of America and the leader of the American Catholic Church.

I am not sure who will be the most gravely scandalized by the photo op, but the point is that Obama is a danger to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and all that we hold dear as Christians in America. Our campaign is not a campaign of discrimination or negativity, it is an effort to follow Christ’s admonition to his disciples (Luke 17: 1-2): “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

We are all called to be faithful, and sometimes that means making difficult decisions or taking unpopular actions in order to defend Christ and His Church. This is not a time for squeamishness or half-hearted attempts to uphold a tradition which, in the case of the Al Smith Dinner, needs to be broken.

[BCI] BCI thinks Cardinal Dolan faces any of several choices to eliminate the scandal created by the 2012 Al Smith Dinner:

  1. Uninvite President Obama
  2. Cancel the dinner
  3. Continue with the dinner as planned, but Cardinal Dolan mitigates the damage and scandal by not personally attending–and the media is banned from the dinner, with no photo opps or cameras permitted

What do you think?


“The Church of Nice” – NY Archdiocese Explanation of Obama Invitation

August 11, 2012

The flap over Cardinal Dolan inviting President Obama to the Al Smith dinner continues, and the explanation by a senior official with the Archdiocese of New York for inviting President Obama to the dinner left much to be desired. The last part of their explanation sounds like it is straight out of the Boston Archdiocese playbook:

The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speak nicely and politely to each other, and work together for a common cause in the service of the poor.

Sound famliar?  The key principle of the “Church of Nice” is to be nice and polite to each other and work for a common cause. To paraphrase what several commenters have said elsewhere, if we were in Germany during the Holocaust, would we “set aside our differences” and invite Adolf Hitler to such a dinner where we have nice, polite conversation, despite his role in the slaughter of millions of innocent people?  Is being “nice and polite” to work for the common good why Cardinal O’Malley keeps Jack Connors around despite his support for pro-abortion political figures whose policies work against the mission of the Catholic Church?  Is this why Cardinal O’Malley did not criticize Mayor Menino for his position that Chick-fil-A should not be in Boston because their leadership supports traditional marriage?  The list goes on and on.

Play the ChurchMilitant.TV video below, or read excerpts below:

Here are some of the key points you should note from this video and a prior one:

The high-ranking NY archdiocesean official who responded said: “people need to take a deep breath, relax a second, and think carefully about this.” The tone is condescending and the implication is that anyone who disagrees with the archdiocese hasn’t thought carefully enough.

The archdiocese, through this official, is saying the “dinner is not a religious event in any way” because it’s administered by the Al Smith Foundation, not the archdiocese. Also wrong or at best, misleading. To suggest it is not a Catholic Church event is a lot of baloney. What this official fails to tell us is that ON the board of the foundation itself and head of the board is Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Auxiliary bishop Dennis Sullivan, Vicar General of the New York Archdiocese, is also on the Board. It has their seal of approval. To try and suggest there is some healthy separation between the Foundation and the Archdiocese is insulting. The money raised by the dinner goes to support the Archdiocese of NY Catholic Charities. The primary figure at the dinner is the Cardinal archbishop of New York. The Foundation’s board of directors has seats occupied by the two highest ranking clerics from the archdiocese, and the archdiocese heavily promotes the dinner and benefits from greatly from it.  While it’s technically true is isn’t a religious event such as the Mass, it most certainly is a Catholic event. Catholicism is celebrated at the dinner, right down to the very reason for the dinner–that Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for president on his party’s ticket in 1928. So, it’s disingenuous to try and paint this as merely a civic event.

The NY archdiocesan official said “politicians who speak at the dinner are not getting any award or honor by the Church.”  Though Obama is not being given an “award,” it most certainly is an honor to be invited to keynote a prominent dinner.   Exactly what situation arises where someone is invited to speak at a fundraiser – as THE headliner – and it is not considered an honor? Do the organizers not consider it an honor when they extend the invitation?  What is it to honor someone?  It’s to call them out, set them above others, and call them out as someone worthy to listen to, follow, or emulate.

If the archdiocese doesn’t REALLY have that much to do with the event, then why did Cardinal Dolan extend invitations to the keynote speakers. Why is an employee of the archdiocese writing on the official archdiocesan page about it? Is the archdiocese in the habit of paying employees to write their own personal opinions on its page about things with only a passing relation to the archdiocese?

The official said, “When everyone wakes up the morning after, the struggle will resume.”  This comment is perhaps the most grating of all, as well as the most telling. It says plainly and implies that the struggle can be broken from. Show us anywhere where the Blessed Lord, the saints, doctors of the church, fathers of the Church, and martyrs suggested you could break from the struggle.  Why are we taking a break from the struggle? To hob-nob with the man who wants to strangle the Church?  Do we really suppose his administration at the White House is taking a break from enforcing the wicked  HHS mandate on the Church?

The official said, “we can still show respect for his office, and for him as a person, and treat him with civility.  It gives us an opportunity to act as Christians, and show some love to our adversaries.”  Again, a very telling comment.  The implication is that to oppose him (Obama), is to somehow not show him respect. That to call him out for his death-dealing policies is to not treat him with civility. And that is showing love for our adversaries.

THAT, in one short phrase sums up EVERYTHING that has gone wrong in the Church in the past 50 years  To speak the truth boldly and plainly is  somehow not love. Love has been absolutely confused with the concept of being nice and politically correct. This distortion has allowed the leaders of Church to totally abdicate their roles as fathers who love and die for their children. Fathers say the tough things.

You want to talk about love and true charity? The most perfect way to demonstrate true charity would be to set an example for not only Barack Obama, who is trapped in his own evil and needs rescuing as well, but to lift up the spirits of tens of thousands, if not millions of Catholics dismayed and shocked over this and un-invite Obama. That would be a true statement of authentic charity.

In the “Church of Nice,” what else is there to see other than this weak-kneed statement by the NY archdiocesan official, “The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speaking nicely and politely to each other.”  There it is–at the end of the day, it all boils down to just being nice. The Church of Nice. Sacrificing our Lord to be nice.

Here is the petition to have Obama disinvited. Please sign it. For the sake of true charity, we ask Cardinal Dolan to rescind the invitation or, as one writer put it at RenewAmerica, “Cancel the Dinner.”


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