Posts Tagged ‘The Vatican’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Friday, March 15th, 2013

After his appearance on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis returned to the Domus Sancta Maria where we cardinals had all resided during the conclave (By the way, his limousine, with proper security escort, stood ready to chauffeur him back to the Domus, but, he got on the bus and rode back with all of us!).

There we had, as you might imagine, a rather festive supper. At its conclusion, a senior cardinal toasted the new Holy Father. Pope Francis stood to reply. His toast to the cardinals who had just elected him as Successor of St. Peter? “May God forgive you!”

This of course brought the house down. He then told us what he planned to do the following day, and ended by saying, “And sometime tomorrow I’ll have to stop by the Casa del Clero (a pensión for priests visiting Rome where he had been staying before the conclave) to pick up my baggage and pay my bill!

A simple observation, but it made me think: this man, seventy-six years old, will now have to move from his beloved Argentina to Rome.

Pope Francis is moving… and the Church herself is always on the move. That’s because the Church is missionary! In His parting words to His disciples, Jesus told them to “Go out to all the world!”

A man named Patrick once did that. You know the story: born probably in England (although the Italians claim he came from here in Italy!), he was kidnapped as a boy and sold into servitude in Ireland. There he came to know and love the people of that verdant, tiny island, as rough and contentious as they were, and longed to teach them the faith he had learned as a child. Even when he escaped and returned home, he could not get Ireland out of his mind, and, so, later went on the move as a bishop back to the damp turf that now claims him as patron. There, he brought the Name, message, and invitation of Jesus and His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. St. Patrick was a missionary.

When, during the years 1845-1851, the blight and famine hit Ireland — – literally “like a plague,” resulting in the starvation of approximately two million or more people, what historians call “the greatest disaster in peace time human history” — – the people of Ireland were “on the move” in a scattering, a diaspora often compared to that of Jews from Israel after the Roman onslaught of 70 AD.

These Irish on the move, these emaciated sons and daughters of St. Patrick, came by the hundreds of thousands to the United States, with nothing of earthly value but the clothes on their back, and fond, yet tearful, memories of the people and the land they cherished, but with something of heavenly value, a “pearl of great price” in their Catholic faith. While the woman called the Statue of Liberty was not yet there in the harbor to welcome them to America, another woman was, one called Holy Mother Church. And we are proud and grateful heirs to those Irish on the move.

In a way, those Irish were missionaries, weren’t they? In humble, simple ways, they built the Church here in America, and passed the faith brought to them by Patrick on to their children.

I’m sure glad Patrick went to Ireland; I’m glad one Patrick Dolan left County Cavan, starving, in 1851; I’m glad he passed on his Catholic faith to his son, Patrick, who then passed it on to Timothy Patrick, then he to William Timothy, who passed it on to Robert Matthew, who passed it on to one Timothy Michael Dolan, who now is proud to call St. Patrick’s his cathedral, and who very much misses all of you as we’ll observe the feast day Sunday, of the one who went on the move and brought the faith to Ireland.

So, Pope Francis is in great company as he moves from Argentina to Rome. That’s just how it is in the Church.

Viva il Papa Francesco!

Viva St. Patrick!

Viva il Papa Francesco!

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

It’s called Domus Sancta Marta, the Latin for Saint Martha’s House, and it’s been my home the last forty-eight hours here in the Vatican, along with 114 of my brother cardinals.

You remember St. Martha, don’t you?  She, along with her sister, Mary, and her brother, Lazarus, were among our Lord’s best friends, and he often enjoyed their company and hospitality at their home right outside of Jerusalem.

I do not exaggerate when I tell you that Jesus still lives here in this house dedicated to His friend, St. Martha. He has been here in our fraternity, our prayer, our laughter, our conversations, our meals, our shared faith, our mutual love for His bride, His Church, and now in our rejoicing with our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, who left this morning, and will move into the apostolic apartments.

As one of my brother Cardinals remarked, “We talk to each other with our different languages; we all speak to Jesus in the same voice.”

We came to St, Martha’s right after the magnificent Mass to Elect a Pontiff  in St. Peter’s Basilica, on Tuesday morning.  Each afternoon, and each morning, we took a little bus the quarter-mile distance to the Courtyard of Saint Damaso — – I’d prefer to walk, but it’s been rainy and damp — – there to disembark and walk into the Sistine Chapel for our duty as cardinal-electors.

The gardens and corridors of the Vatican were eerily empty.  After all, the pope was no longer there.  We “got the place to ourselves.”  I always dreamed of spending some uninterrupted hours looking upon the walls and ceilings of the celebrated Sistine Chapel.  Never did I think I’d be doing it this way!

One of the older cardinals, who went through the conclave of 2005, assured me I would sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in all of this.  He was right.  No, not in any brilliant rays of light, sound of wind, or tongues of fire, but in common and private prayer, oaths taken, words of inspiration, information, and encouragement exchanged, art and song working their charm, promptings sensed, and discernment going on.

And now the world knows the result of all this, as we have cheered the announcement, “We have a pope!”

It was all worth it.  It is His (Jesus’) Church —- not mine, not the cardinal’s, not the Vatican’s, not ours, not even Pope Francis’ —- it is His Church! And upon the rock of Peter’s (and his successor’s) faith, He will build His Church.

Viva il Papa Francesco!

It’s About Jesus

Monday, February 25th, 2013

“But why didn’t he say anything about his reasons for stepping down, or his plans for the future, or any personal reflections about his own legacy?”  asked the journalist after Mass yesterday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

This reporter had gotten up early to watch the last Sunday Angelus address Pope Benedict XVI would ever give, to 100,000 people in Saint Peter’s Square at noon in Rome.  He had spoken of Lent, the Transfiguration of Jesus (the gospel for Sunday), and prayer.

“Because,” I replied, trying to provide an answer to the journalist’s fair-enough inquiry, “Popes don’t talk about themselves.  They are really no longer themselves!  That’s why they change their name.  They take literally what Saint Paul wrote, that “I live now – - no, not I – - Christ lives in me.”  They speak not of themselves but of Jesus.  That’s why!”

“And you,” the reporter courteously persisted, “you didn’t say a word about your plans, your departure for Rome, your thoughts or observations.  We got here to cover your 10:15 a.m. Mass, and you only mentioned the Pope in one prayer, and didn’t say anything personal.”

“Same reason,” I responded.  “The Mass is about Jesus, not about me.”

That could be the most profound lesson this great professor-pontiff has taught the world.  His heroic and humble decision of a week ago to step-down from the Chair of Saint Peter is a lesson:  in the end, when all is said and done, it’s not about office, prominence, prestige, prerogatives.  It’s not about me at all: it’s all about Jesus and His Church.

Tomorrow, though, I do leave New York for Rome.  I take you with me.  When I have the privilege of bidding farewell to the Holy Father this Thursday, the day he leaves, I’ll tell him that we – - you and me – - love him, pray with and for him, and thank him.

I’ll miss you.  Sure, this will be awesome for me.  But, I really like being your archbishop.  And I’ll be eager to get back home to you.  Besides, I can get a good bowl of pasta here in New York, too.

Please God, I’ll be home by Palm Sunday.  Not a day will go by that I will not think of you here with love, prayer and gratitude. If I’m in Rome longer, please send peanut butter.  You can’t get it there.

Renewing Our Faith by Old Habits

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Here I am in Rome all month for the Synod on the New Evangelization.  I miss all of you already – - but my next bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara will snap me out of it.

How do we renew, restore, repair, re-energize our faith in the Person, message, and invitation of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

That’s the challenge posed by the New Evangelization.

To renew, restore, repair, and re-energize our faith, individually, and communally, as the Church . . .

. . . and then to be agents of the New Evangelization to others.

One of the most prominent and influential converts to Catholicism in the history of the Catholic community in the United States was Dorothy Day.

I’m reading her excellent biography by Jim Forest, All is Grace.

Dorothy herself relates a number of features that drew her to Jesus and His Church.

One especially powerful one was when she shared a meager room with two other young women, struggling, like her, to make it, down in Greenwich Village.

These two roommates were Catholic. Simple Catholics, but sincere.  And Dorothy at the time was a socialist, probably an agnostic, living a rather hedonistic life.

And Dorothy watched the two other girls.  She admired them.  What moved her?  What inspired her?

One, they went to Mass every Sunday morning (their only morning to sleep-in, by the way);

Two, they prayed silently every night before bed;

Three, they were deeply in love with two men, and had set their wedding date, but they wanted “to wait” until marriage something they admitted was tough to do.  That virtue impressed Dorothy;

Four, they were from poor, struggling families, and thus had a heart for others in need.

Not bad: Sunday Mass; daily prayer; virtue, even when it’s tough; and a humble charity.

Their example evangelized a future saint, Dorothy Day.

Maybe the “New Evangelization” requires the recovery of some old stuff!

Love and Gratitude for the Sisters

Monday, August 6th, 2012

You probably know that I did my graduate studies in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

You may also know that a sad fact of that history is that the Catholic community in the USA, from the start, has had to counter a deep and pervasive bigotry.

As Richard Schlesinger commented, “Hatred of the Catholic Church is the oldest bias in the American psyche.”

Yet, certain events in our history have softened that prejudice.  Guess what — according to Monsignor John Tracy Ellis, my old professor, himself one of our most acclaimed historians — was one of those events which helped significantly decrease this ingrained suspicion of the Catholic Church?

You might reply that it was the election, in 1960 of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, as president.  Important, yes, but not the one Monsignor Ellis had in mind.

How about the pontificate of John Paul II, who frequently topped the “most admired list” even among non-Catholics in the United States?

That helped, according to Ellis, but did not have nearly the impact of the event he had in mind.

The episode that most dramatically motivated Americans, who grew-up with only negative perceptions about these ignorant, dirty, backward, superstitious Catholics was . . . the heroic charity of Catholic nuns on the battlefields of the Civil War, selflessly tending to the wounded and dying, both blue and gray.

These brave religious women seemed to be everywhere — Gettysburg, Antietam, Manassas, Vicksburg, Shiloh — unafraid of cannons or bullets, unconcerned about whether a bleeding man was from the North or the South, caring for each with competence, compassion, and faith.

Thousands of them, healed due to these amazing women, returned to their homes with the comment to all who would listen, “Hey, those Catholics aren’t bad at all.  In fact, some of them, those women they call ‘sisters’, saved my life.”

We Catholics love the nuns.  We Americans love the nuns.

Long before women had any executive positions in business, industry, education, or politics, Catholic women religious ran schools, colleges, hospitals, and agencies of charity.  And anybody of my vintage or older knows that the most influential people in the parish were the sisters.

Here in the Archdiocese of New York, we celebrate women such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Venerable Rose Hawthorne, and Venerable Sister Mary Angeline Teresa, just to name few founders of religious congregations of sisters that serve us still.

The sisters staffed our massive school system, as well as our health and charity infrastructure.  They had sharp minds, soft hearts, radiant souls, and indomitable wills.  In them we saw the two great commandments given us by Jesus — “love God, and love your neighbor” personified.

When the Second Vatican Council urged a renewal of religious life, with characteristic vigor, they obeyed, and perhaps more than any other group in the Church, took the providential council seriously.

Lord knows, that was not easy. Mistakes were made; many left; divisions occurred; controversy was common.  But they kept at it.

Four-and-a-half decades later, they have decreased drastically in number.  An order of sisters I have known for a long time recently sadly announced that they would accept no new vocations  — they hadn’t had one in two decades — and were prepared to fade away.

Yet, they persevere.  Their presence in this archdiocese is ubiquitous.  Their wisdom and spirit continue to guide the apostolates beholden to them.  Some newer orders report a rising number of vocations, and even those congregations shrinking in numbers have a grace and a courage about them that continues to teach, serve, and sanctify as a leaven in our local church.

They have an uncanny charism of sensing where God’s People are most in need, and prod the Church to listen, as did Jesus, to the moans of those at the side of the road.

We Catholics love the Sisters!  Catholics in America do have a “ballot” when it comes to expressing their concern and interests in the life of the Church:  the Sunday envelope! And the most successful second collection in our history is the annual one to support our aged religious.

Contrary to what you may have heard, Rome loves the Sisters!  When you love someone, you show concern.  And, recently, the Vatican expressed some concerns about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a group that represents a lot of Sisters.

That expression of concern contained high praise for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and even higher esteem for all the nuns in America.  The concord between the Holy See (which asked for and initiated the Leadership Conference of Women Religious  half-a-century ago) is strong enough for both sides to ask tough questions.

But the concern is real:  the Holy See loves the Sisters so much they want them as strong, faithful, and influential as possible, and legitimately worries about features threatening their very identity as “daughters of the Church,” to borrow Elizabeth Ann Seton’s favorite description of her sisters.

Some say that Rome is too soft, and should have suppressed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious , because it is heretical; one letter even called them “Unitarians”!

The other extreme claims that the stuffy, oppressive, sexist Vatican is scared of these independent, free-thinking women, and should leave them alone.

But such caricatures hardly help.  All that helps is humility in both partners, and a profession of faith that, in the end, it’s not about one side or the other, not about the grievances of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious or the worries of the Vatican, but it’s all about Jesus and His Church.

If the Sisters can survive the battlefields of the Civil War, they’ll survive the dramatic changes of the last five decades, and the current examination by Rome.

And what is never in question is our love and gratitude for the Sisters!

Preserving Our Faith

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The headline was so familiar: Yet another group was “challenging the Vatican” on something, this time, on upholding the timeless teaching of the Church that only men are called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

One can’t really find too much fault with the content of the article, namely that some small groups in North America, Austria, and Australia, the usual lineup, are protesting this particular teaching of the Church.

What one does find frustrating is the tenor of the headline and the article that “the Vatican” has these bizarre, outmoded, oppressive “policies” that need to be “revised” so that such “guidelines of Rome” are brought more in line with enlightened thinking of today.

One would think that leaders in “the Vatican” occasionally meet to decide what “rules” they should issue or reinforce today, or what changes in procedure they should introduce to guarantee that the Church is more relevant.

While this seems to be the presumption of most people who attempt to report on the Church, it is, indeed, a presumption that is invalid.

“The Vatican” is a plot of ground the size of an eighteen-hole golf course on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.  It happens also to be the home of the successor to the man buried on this acreage under the splendid basilica which bears his name, St. Peter’s.

These 108 acres, “the Vatican” have absolutely no authority at all to alter the teaching of the Church.  Its sacred duty, rather, is to preserve and hand on the deposit of faith we have received from revelation, from the Bible, from Jesus, from His apostles.

So, to imply that the Successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, and his closest aides regularly meet as some political entity to read the latest poll and “change Church policy,” like that of ordaining only men, is silly.

Call it whatever you went — “the Vatican,” “Rome,” “the Pope,” “the Holy See,” “the Magisterium” — whatever you call it, it does not “make up,” “change,” or “issue” new doctrines.  It inherits them, receives them, “handed on” (from the Latin word tradiitio,) by Tradition.

Yes, it may rethink how the truth entrusted to it might be better explained, or more credibly presented, or expressed in a more contemporary way.

Yes, it might become concerned when it’s clear that a good chunk of people no longer follow a particular teaching or moral precept.

But it does not then call a meeting and vote whether or not to change the teaching.

At times it – “the Vatican,” “Rome,” “the Pope,” “the Holy See,” “the Magisterium” — might even wish it could change certain teachings.  For instance, I would wager most bishops, priests, deacons, pastoral leaders, and maybe even the Holy Father himself has, at one time or another wished the Church could alter the teaching of Jesus that marriage is forever, and that one cannot break that sacred bond asunder.

But it can’t, because it didn’t make up the teaching to begin with.

So, plug in whatever word you want in the boilerplate headline: “Group Challenges Vatican on its Policy of __________________” — abortion, marriage, euthanasia, lying, stealing, artificial contraception, sexual acts outside of marriage, ordination of women — fill in the “flavor of the day,” but the headline is still inaccurate: these are not “policies” decided by some person in the Vatican; these are not “bans” put out by some committee.  These are doctrines, timeless teachings not ours to alter.

It sometimes seems as if many view the Church as a political institution, with a new pope or new bishop able to set out his own positions and priorities the way an incoming president or governor would.  Back in 2009, for instance, when I was appointed Archbishop of New York, I was asked by a reporter how my “policy” on gay “marriage” would differ from the “policy” of Cardinal Egan.  I tried to explain, as gently as I could, that the responsibility of any bishop is to clearly and charitably articulate the teaching of the Church, not to establish “policy” on which teaching he will follow and which teaching he will change.

To be clear, yes, the Church does have some “policies” that can be changed, for instance, abstinence of meat on Friday, fasting from food before Holy Communion, or even priestly celibacy.  These indeed are part of the Church’s discipline — still not to be dismissed lightly — and can be modified, and there are so many other areas of pastoral strategy where we need vigorous discussion and fresh ideas.

But, sorry, not in the area of doctrine, not part of the Church’s received Tradition.  Some might protest, take out ads, have yet another meeting.  Go ahead.  But, they should at least be accurate: don’t blame “the Vatican” for doctrines you don’t like.  Blame Revelation, the Bible, Jesus, and Sacred Tradition.  “The Vatican” does not “make-up” teaching, but only passes it on.

In the end, of course, our challenge is not to change the teachings of Jesus and His Church to conform to our whims, but to change our lives to conform to His teaching.

That’s a headline you won’t see.

Response from David Quinn

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently released a statement to the Dail regarding the Vatican’s 1997 letter to the Irish bishops on sex abuse. David Quinn, a columnist for the Irish Independent, responded to Taoiseach Kenny’s statement and other attacks on the Vatican.

Here is an excerpt from Quinn’s column:

In the sort of language normally associated with a Richard Dawkins or Ian Paisley, he accused the Vatican of “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . narcissism” and effectively of not caring about the “rape and torture of children”.

Among other things, Kenny’s speechwriters included a wildly out-of-context quote from the then Cardinal Ratzinger. There is a difference between necessary and valid criticism of the church on the one hand, and unrestrained church-bashing on the other.

In a similar vein, Kenny added his voice last week to those who believe the breaking of the seal of confession should be required by law.

Kenny is obviously no anti-Catholic, but he needs to realise that, historically, only the most anti-Catholic societies have ever done such a thing.

You can read the whole column here.

Promoting New Evangelization

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I’m spending this week at the Vatican for the first-ever meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.  I’m honored that the Holy Father has appointed me to this new and vital Council, responsible for helping to promote the faith.  The Holy Father met with us on Monday, and our meetings with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Council, and cardinals and bishops from around the world have been enlightening and inspiring.  This is an area of tremendous emphasis for the Church, and it is reflected in the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone in these meetings.

Since I was in Rome, I took the opportunity to record my weekly radio program, “A Conversation with the Archbishop” for The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM Radio from the studios of Vatican Radio.  When I was Rector of the North American College in Rome, I used to record brief reflections for Vatican Radio, so it was great to be back.  We recorded this week’s show in the Karol Wojtyla Studios, named for Pope John Paul II, since it was the studio that he used to record 21 Polish-language programs for Vatican Radio while he was the Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow, Poland.  I was a little let-down when I found out that I wasn’t the first Catholic Channel host to broadcast from the Karol Wojtyla Studio.  Apparently Lino Rulli, The Catholic Guy, beat me to it! Archbishop Fisichella, Sean Patrick Lovett who heads the English desk at Vatican Radio, and Monsignor Paul Tighe, a priest from Dublin who now works at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, were my guests.   I hope you will listen on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time to hear the show on Sirius XM 129.

With Archbishop Fisichella at the taping of the show

Sean Patrick Lovett and me

With Monsignor Paul Tighe

Photos by Joseph Zwilling

You’ll notice a television camera in the picture with Archbishop Fisichella.  The Today Show is broadcasting from the Vatican this Thursday morning, and they’ve asked me to be a part of it.  I’ll be with Matt Lauer and Al Roker from Saint Peter’s Square.  Should be a fun morning, so tune in if you can.

Have a blessed Ascension Thursday.

Anti-Catholicism

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

FOUL BALL!
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.