Double Standard

Last week, the New York Times published a column and an editorial about an incident at Saint Catherine of Siena parish.  In response, Father Ray Rafferty, pastor of Corpus Christi parish, wrote a letter to the editor of the Times.  As of today, the letter has not been published, and he has heard nothing from the Times.  With Father Rafferty’s permission, I’d like to share the letter with you.  Here it is, verbatim.

To The Editor:

I agree that it was wrong of the clergyman at St. Catherine of Siena Church to print a seeming endorsement in the parish bulletin.

However, for many years, every Monday in the weeks leading up to the elections, THE NEW YORK TIMES frequently contains an article about a political candidate who is welcomed and who speaks at the Sunday worship service of Protestant churches, often ones that have large African-American congregations.

I have never seen your paper denounce this.  Usually the article and photos are laudatory.  Is it not using a double standard to denounce this one incident in a Catholic church and not denounce similar actions in non-Catholic churches that operate under the same tax law?

Raymond M. Rafferty
Pastor, Corpus Christi Church

24 Responses to “Double Standard”

  1. Right on, Fr. Rafferty. I’ve been saying this for the last 10 years. The other day I received a letter from “The Americans for the Separation of Church and State” warning me to watch my p’s and q’s from the pulpit because the IRS is keeping an eye on them too. None of my Protestant brethren I know received this letter. Makes you go “hmmm” doesn’t’ it?

    God bless

    Msgr. Mike Dieckmann
    Pastor, St. Paul, Fenton, MO

  2. Suzanne Hogan says:

    Thank you, Cardinal Dolan for bringing this very well written response to our attentions.

  3. John F. DeBiase says:

    Excellent! Getting tired of ignorance when it
    comes to our church… and attacks — even subtle
    ones against my faith.

    FYI… I remain a registered Democrat… a pro-life

  4. James F. Marsh says:

    Bravo! The African-American “Reverends” always get a free pass to say and do anything. Yes, the guns are aimed at the Catholic churches; I can see that and I am not even Catholic. By their silence they are admitting guilt. A pure and honest man would be forthright with attitude and comments. You have touched a sore spot in the American culture, a grevious sin indeed. Read Daniel. Love in Christ, Jim Marsh

  5. Anne says:

    Day one of 40 Days of Prayer started today. The media is on my list. God bless them and may they finally gain some clarity of sight.

  6. Thank you, Cardinal Dolan, for sharing Fr. Rafferty’s letter with us!

  7. Marcus says:

    The NY TImes only sees and publishes what it wants to hear. Thank you for standing up for us Father Rafferty.

  8. Karen says:

    Finally! Someone is calling the press out on the double standard being used against the Catholic Church. Democratic candidates have been speaking in black churches for years with no complaint. The attack and attempt to silence the Catholic Church is blatant and aggressive this time around. Thank you Father for fighting back!

  9. David says:

    Very disappointed to read this. What is missing here? Context…historical, social, and political context. Your posting misses the unique history of African Americans in our country, and the unique role that the African American church has played in their survival both as a people and as a community. Unlike other immigrant populations, African Americans were treated as property and their migration was involuntary. The Black church has always had an expressly political role, serving to form a unique African American political community in this country, to inform slaves and former slaves of the whereabouts of their family members who had been sold, to provide life-saving information about the Underground Railroad, to promote the rights of African Americans in the face of Jim Crow, and to serve as the essential vessel for the formation of the Civil Rights movement when formal political channels were closed to African Americans.

    Yes, African American churches invite politicians to speak to their congregations. They do so for the same reason that they had major political figures such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak to their congregations. Because African Americans have had their very existence as a people and as a community challenged in a way that no other ethnic or racial group in America has. And because the African American church has been the essential vessel through which African Americans have fought for their political rights and their very existence as a community.

    Lest you think otherwise, these threats persist today. They persist most visibly in a movement to restrict the rights of African Americans to vote. In many states, African Americans lack the documents that would allow them to prove their identities and get photo ID’s, such as official birth certificates, a legacy of the very injustices that African American churches fought for decades.

    So, if you and Fr. Rafferty wish to file an IRS complaint against African American churches, go ahead and do so. But don’t for a second pretend that there isn’t a unqiue political role that African American churches have had to play and have to continue to play to promote the rights of African Americans in this country. I wish you would spend at least as much time criticizing the attempts to take away the voting rights of African Americans as you have criticizing African American churches’ attempts to have their voices heard in a manner that’s wholly consistent with the unique and prophetic role they have played in our history.

  10. Joseph Wood says:

    Bless you Fr. Rafferty for attempting to combat the ongoing effort by the NYT to portray Catholics and Catholicism in the most negative way possible. We have all developed quite a headache banging our heads against that wall Father, but bless you for the effort. We should not let such things stand unopposed.

  11. rbj says:

    Cardinal Dolan, Peace of Christ be with you. This issue should come at no surprise, as you and many Bishops have (for all practical purposes) endorsed candidates in your homilies and public statements. I think this issue is ripe with hypocrisy on all sides.

    I think it would be wise for the clergy; Protestants, Catholic, progressive or conservative, to focus more on the needs of the poor and other injustices, than political posturing.

    With Prayers for our Church ,,,

  12. Thank you Cardinal Dolan for sharing this with us. Unfortunately, I am not at all surprised at the refusal of the NY Times to print Father Raferty’s letter. The Times has been relentless in its anti-Cathoilc agenda and its ongoing support of only one party in local and national politics.

  13. Phil says:

    Sadly, the Church is not really yet in a position to lecture others about double standards.

    While we straight Catholics celebrate family values and our own marriages, we are financing a very well organized effort led by Cardinal Dolan to deny our gay Catholic brothers and sisters the same rights we claim for ourselves.

    We are not in a position to demand others outside the Church treat us fairly while we continue to treat our own fellow Catholics unfairly.

    The good news is that we can redeem the Church’s reputation any time we want simply by extending to our fellow Catholics the same rights we claim for ourselves.

    Ready when you are Cardinal Dolan.

  14. rbj says:

    Cardinal Dolan, an additional important point about getting too political, even for causes that you believe are important to religious freedom; taking overt political stances with one party or another may lead to a call for the elimination of tax benefits for the Church. Surely, you believe that would be a terrible consequence. God Bless You.

  15. Mary Flannery Climes says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am happy that Father Rafferty realizes that he was wrong, and I hope that this will not be repeated in other parishes. Thank you again for sharing this as I am not a regular reader of the New York Times, and would not have known about it otherwise.

  16. John F says:

    Having read David’s comment above it seems laughable. No church should allow politicians to campaign or speak at worship services.

  17. MaryGr says:

    40 Days for Life continues until Nov.3. Cardinal Dolan, the faithful of New York would deeply appreciate your coming to the streets to pray outside an abortion mill. America has lost 50 million people in 40 years of legalized abortion. We are a culture of false deities and human sacrifice. It is 2012. We are Ninevah. One hour of your time?

  18. Anthony Andreassi says:


    Your whole post is an argument for a double standard. What is legal and acceptable for one group should be legal and acceptable for another group. No one denies the role that black churches have had in the struggle for civil rights–and continue to do so. But then if the NYT remains silent on their very explicit mixing of politics and religion in the pulpit, then it should remain silent when any other religious group does it. Some Catholics think that abortion is the civil rights issue of our day. If so, then Catholic Churches should maybe follow the methods of African-American churches. I happen to not agree with this, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  19. Larry says:

    David: I don’t believe Father Rafferty or anyone else in the New York Archdiocese wants to file an IRS complaint against black Churches who host candidates. The letter was a complaint to the New York Times for its apparent lack of fairness in editorial policy. There was nothing said about involving the government versus Protestant Churches.

  20. Kenneth Michaels says:

    Cardinal Dolan, Fr Raferty’s argument appears to complain that no action is taken against the other church for violating the law, so the Catholic Church should be permitted to break the law. In 2008, my parish became very vocal in attacking then candidate Obama. Also, bishops throughout the US were vocal in their political support and attacks. So I stopped giving money to my parish and sent the funds to Obama’s campaign. I informed my parish manager, and he was amused.

    This campaign season, a Knights of Columbus 4th degree assembly which I belonged to sent minutes of a meeting stating under “good of the order” that we must work to get the “incumbent” out of office. When I objected, the minutes were reissued and an email was sent to everyone in the assembly attacking me for objecting. I have no doubts that the Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus should lose their tax exempt status. Nevertheless, I will continue to be a Catholic and Democrat. My concern is what my church leaders do, not what a Protestant church down the street does.

  21. Manuel says:

    In response to David: in New York City today there is no need for such a flagrant violation of IRS regulations. Politicans seeking election should not use a religious service for a stump speech. Even when incumbent office holders need to address the congregation on an issue of community import (crime, redevelopment) this should be done in a “town hall’ format and not in conjunction with a scheduled service. This is similar to the question of the use of public school buildings for religious services during non-school hours. To avoid the appearance of a violation of the establishment clause (what if a religion meets on Wednesday mornings, would it have recourse?) it would be preferable not to make available school facilities for religious purposes. However in an emergency situation there is no issue of providing faclities on a temporary basis as it is accomodating free exercise while the emergency is rectified. On the basis of your argument I should be demanding the demoltion of the USS Maine monument at the corner of Central Park simply because I am ethnically Puerto Rican and think that the destruction of the ship was a pretext for United States expansionism which absorbed Puerto Rico as a spoil of war. Providing context is one thing, using it as an excuse is quite another.

  22. michigancatholic says:

    Thank you for putting this on your blog. Yes, there is a double standard, a very glaring double standard. And it’s unfair and the news media doesn’t care that it’s unfair.

  23. Raquel says:

    Thank you Father for your insights. Do not ever back down. As a matter of fact in these last few weeks before Catholics go to vote, more should be done to educate them on what is going on and how important their vote is and exactly how they must vote. They must vote for the man that values life and return to us a strong and vibrant economy. That man is Mitt Romney.

  24. Wow. Good point, Father. The double standards are very upsetting. Priests, please just keep teaching the Catholic Faith in its entirety. The people will then make the best political choices possible!