Cardinal Dolan and Pope Benedict Offer Congratulations (and Reminders) to Obama

According to a U.S.C.C.B. press release: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated President Barack Obama, Nov. 7, the day after his re-election as President of the United States. The U.S.C.C.B. released the text of the letter this morning:

Dear President Obama,

In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States.  The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility.  The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.

In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant.  We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.  We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.

May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.
Sincerely yours,

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pope Benedict also sent congratulations to President Obama (via telegram!). According to Vatican Radio:

In his Message, the Holy Father offers his best wishes to the President, and promises continued prayers on his behalf. The Pope assures the re-elected President that he will ask God to help him in his high responsibility to the country and the international community. The Pope also says he will pray that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founders of the United States of America, might continue to shine through the nation as it makes its way in history.

The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Federico Lombardi, SJ, commented:

All hope that President Obama, confirmed in his office after the elections, will respond to the expectations of his fellow citizens; that he might serve right and justice for the benefit and growth of every person, in respect for those human and spiritual values, which are essential to the promotion of the culture of life and religious freedom, which are ever so precious in the tradition and culture of the American people, so that that people might be capable of finding the best ways to promote the material and spiritual welfare of all; so that it can effectively promote integral human development, justice and peace in the world.

Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
Yeah, I want the last word. You seem to insist on it in most of your exchanges on IAT. 

I think the bishops that shot down the weak labor draft at the meeting the other day were on to something good. I've found many of their statements on immigration to be clear-headed & humane. But I do believe that they are wrong on so many issues, that their political lobbying is foolhardy, and that they display an "unpastoral" role in their encounters with fellow Catholics and the rest of America.  They are certainly not the USCCB of the '86 pastoral on the economy.

But this has nothing to do with the single issue that we were debating, i.e., their horible role in the sexual abuse of minors.  For you to respond that "I'll offer some criticism when you offer praise" is bizzare.

Of course the actual priests who engaged in the acts are wrong.  Big deal. The debate that has been raging for over a decade is what should happen to their superiors and bishops who knew and covered it up?  Please don't be cloy.
Finally, the laity have very little, if any power in the Church today. It has reverted to (I'm not certain it ever ventured too far from) a top-down model. Your harping that I don't complain about the laity and sexual abuse is, therefore, confusing. Were there groups of Catholic laity using Church property and offices to abuse minors and then did they cover it up? BTW, that's not a question!
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Two question marks? Unfortunately, the laity (I can freely criticize them as I am one) abuse not in schools/churches but in their own homes and the wives are the enablers (e.g. Sandusky). But, I am very surprised you think the guilt of the perps are mo ''big deal.''  What a revealing statement!

Now a question so you can get the last word. What does cloy mean?

Beth Cioffoletti
4 years 6 months ago
Though both of these messages are gracious (I particularly like the Pope's), I really wish that religious leaders could refrain from being so visible in the political realm.  Why couldn't they wait a few days before sending these letters?

After a weekend Mass in which a parishioner publicly confronted the pastor while he was pitching for the Republicans (and the congregation applauded the pastor), I yearn for priests (and bishops) who can serve the spiritual needs of their flock without trying to influence their votes. This power yoking Kings and Bishops resembles the Middle Ages when the peasants really had no choice.

From what I understand a majority of Catholics, despite the urgings of their bishops, voted for Obama.  This does not mean that they are LESS Catholic, but that their political decisions are becoming more sophisticated  and nuanced and less susceptible to the often misguided aspirations of thier religious leaders.
Bill Freeman
4 years 6 months ago
I think last night's election is a tipping point.  Obama and a progressive agenda won including the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Marriage equality won in Maryland and Maine; marriage discrimination initiatives (backed by the RC bishops), lost in Wisconsin and Washington.  Progressives candidates, including our first gay-elected candidate Tammy Baldwin, won.  Medical marijuana won.  In this election Roman Catholic votes supported these progressive causes (including the President's reelection) by wide margins.  This is the sensus fidelium. 

From where I sit, the Roman bishops and hierarchy have demonstrated how out of touch they are.  I do believe that the Roman Church is on the doorstep of a major schism with progressive Catholics in Europe and the US splitting from more culturally orthodox Roman Catholics.

I'd be intersted in the reflections of others.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
As I predicted at #3 someone would come forth with the claim that Catholics who voted for Obama aren't really Catholic.

Good old dependable Tim provided this service: "The election was a very bad day for committed Catholics, and a good one for liberal-first Catholics."

While it's easy to dismiss this as the sulking of the losing side it is indicative of a deep, pathological aspect in our Church today.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago

You've tried just about  everything to squirm out of the fact that Catholics don't follow your brand of practicing the Faith at least not in the voting booth-i.e., the polls are wrong, the questions the pollsters are asking are flawed, the sampling methods are faulty, and-now-we only lost by a few percentage points. Of course your fallback is always that the Catholics with whom you disagree aren't truly Catholics.

The Repub Catholics, led by heaps of money and the supposed intellect and charisma of Paul Ryan, lost.

Give it up.  Or keep doing it.  Whatever.  It's unconvincing.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
"As regards the Catholic vote, Pew has the numbers. They report that 50% of self-identifying Catholics (driven by a 75% margin in Hispanic Catholics - probably related to immigration promises), and 39% of regular mass attenders voted for Obama. These are down from 2008 and about the same as Kerry and Gore got."

Hey, thanks for those numbers (you have finally come around to accepting Pew figures!).

Very impressive-all those Catholics ignored the hierarchy's attempt to steamroll civil society.  I'm especially delighted by the nearly 40% of "regular Mass attendees" (whatever that means). Just imagine-the folks you hold as uber loyal thumbed their noses at the hectoring clerics.

p.s. argumentum ad pedophilium?! I love it that you've used this little Latinism more than a few times on this blog. I actually referred to the bishops shameful behavior on this as one of the many things for which they must atone (please re-read #3).
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Hey Vince,
I didn't dispute the numbers in the Pew polls, and still hold that when Nancy Pelosi, or some other protector of the abortion racket or a core teaching, self-defines herself as a Catholic, well it ain't necessarily so. And, I'm surprised, with your particular pride in the soft sciences, that you have difficulty in understanding what the Pew poll meant by regular mass attendance. Maybe, your point is that people can attend Mass and still not be adequately catechized or even fully faithful, and I agree with you on that. Sometimes, people go to mass for social/family reasons and don’t even believe in such fundamentals as the Real Presence. Guess who gets their vote. And there are people who never attend but still believe in the full faith, even though something keeps them from practicing it. This is why determining a sensus fidelium based on a majority or plurality in a poll result is stupid.
I re-read your earlier point #3 and still note that sex abuse was the only sin you actually mentioned. The fact that you thought it was somehow pertinent to a post on the Bishops congratulating the President is the essence of the extreme pre-occupation that fits the “argumentum ad pedophilium” term.
Since you didn’t mention my alternate hypothesis of how the Bishops could have responded in this post, I ask again if you think that would have been a better response a couple of days after the election?

Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
"How much more should they grovel?"

You've got to be kidding me.  Ask Cardinal Law who is probably enjoying a wonderful dinner in Rome just now as he oversees his cushy basilica gig. Forced resignations? Prison time? Reforms? Zip.  They lost credibility with their defensive and legalistic approach to the crisis. Even a decade on they have not responded to the damage they wrought on so many.

Your "dawn of humanity" reference is a fictive construct and your effort to deny civil rights to consenting adults under the cover of natural law is plain sad. 
Crystal Watson
4 years 6 months ago
The congratualtions of Dolan and the pope seem so disingenuous, given how much they wanted Romney to win.  I guess they just can't resist still trying to place themselves front and center.
david power
4 years 6 months ago
I think Vince nails it.The pope is a respecter of norms and so he respects the system that places Obama once again as the leader of the American people;Dolan is always dolan.
As much as I agree with Vince about the bishops I cant help feeling  that gay marriage is a mirage , an oasis that will never express the spirituality  of the  situation.
When the American people vote against the ideology of evil represented by mary ann glendon we can only sat God bless America! 
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
The election was a very bad day for committed Catholics, and a good one for liberal-first Catholics. It is of course right that the Pope and bishop accept the results of the election and congratulate the winner, even if they did not support him, for the sake of our democracy and general civility. Those who complain about it should ponder the alternative, continued criticism and polarity, as happened by the Democrats when President Bush won re-election by even greater numbers in 2004.

But, congratulations does not mean approval. It does not mean we abandon our faith or the injustice against the unborn, the poorest of the poor. We (meaning committed Catholics) should pray for the conversion of Obama and the writers/readers of America while we continue the fight for life and liberty in this still great country.

Bill #2
God does not promise us victory or success in this life - often the opposite. But He does require fidelity. And one needs to be faithful to even begin to have a senses fidelium. It is not determined by vote, but by fidelity. Or, ask yourself if you accept the majority support for capital punishment or abortion or the popular wars (most get majority support at the beginning) as a senses fidelium?
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Why should this argument that has been going on for months in this blog suddenly change in the face of a few percentage points in a plebicite? It is obvious that there are many non-practicing Catholics who do not believe in many fundamentals of the faith but still, for whatever reason, claim the Catholic title? Hasn't it always been the case, at least since Constantine?

Maybe, you are in some form of self-serving denial, but the pathology in our western Church today is that this abandoning of many core teachings is so prevalent. Whether it is in doctrines as fundamental as original sin, confession, apostolic authority or the Real Presence, or a myriad of moral teachings, many people cry ''Lord, Lord'' but do not follow Him.

Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Vince (& Beth and Bill)
One usually expects sore losers, but this has got to be the first time to see so many sore winners, with Vince even bringing out the argumentum ad pedophilium again. I know you think you won, and certainly it looks like the Supreme Court will get some more solid pro-abortion justices. But, would you really have preferred the Bishops to say something like:

“We are aghast at the success of a campaign based on vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud. We are alarmed that so many of our fellow citizens could look the other way and not hold Obama accountable for (such and such). We are amazed that a majority was not concerned about heaping a huge debt burden on our children. And we are disgusted that an effort consciously designed to divide the country did exactly that - and won. Begin with the facts: A 51-48 percent victory is not a mandate.”

Is there anyone of you who think that paragraph would be the right response at this time?

As regards the Catholic vote, Pew has the numbers. They report that 50% of self-identifying Catholics (driven by a 75% margin in Hispanic Catholics - probably related to immigration promises), and 39% of regular mass attenders voted for Obama. These are down from 2008 and about the same as Kerry and Gore got.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Responses to Vince #19
1. No long list needed but typical that it all begins with sex abuse for a segment of the aging white voter. Bishop bashing is an article of anti-faith for some anti-Catholic self-identifying Catholics (Abortion-enabling-self-identifying Catholics, or AESICs). What about penance for those who support the ultimate child-abuse in the womb?

2. Did you raise sex abuse again here? Of course, you did. My paragraph in #16 came from EJ Dionne when Kerry lost in 2004. Dionne is a spokesman for all AESICs.

3. My critique of the polls of including AESICs with ''the Catholic vote'' has not been disproven by this election, only confirmed.

4. Conservative is not the same as committed, and there indeed have been attacks on the Church from the right as from the left. And the language of attack is actually very similar, bitter and fundamentalist, on both sides, never magnanimous. But, today in the US & Europe, the leftish AESIC is much more prevalent.

5. As regarding telling the Bishops to stay quiet, this is what the right-wing AESIC anti-Catholics were doing in 1930s Italy or Germany (the uber AESICs). So, no surprise it isn't a major refrain from the liberal AESICs today.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
Calling for justice is not hate. It's not an insult to demand that those who facilitated the abuse, and engaged in coverups be held accountable. The bishops aren't the victims.

As for your reference to "natural moral law" we'll  have to take that up the next time there's a post on modern Catholic moral theologians.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
Thanks to Bill & Beth for their perceptive comments.  The USCCB et al. fared badly in all of this. These chose to play hardball politics and lost both in & out of church.

Of course, I expect that the conservative Catholic bloggers will offer all manner of explanation, e.g., Catholics voting for Democrats aren't really Catholic, the bishops are brave voices in the wilderness, etc.  

Think of how restorative it would be if the bishops engaged in a long period of reflection and penance (beginning with their role in the sexual abuse scandal)? 
4 years 6 months ago
Nice banter Vince, good points on Cardinal Law, keep it coming, God bless.
4 years 6 months ago
The so called congratulations is simply patronizing and presumptious. If they (bishops) had their way, they would summon Obama to the chancery and lay the law down. Dream on!
Helen Deines
4 years 6 months ago
Would it be possible that Catholics could come together and model around areas of shared concern?  

For example,  would Catholics of both parties lead the way on immigration reform?  

Could we come together, recognizing that the evidence shows that poor women are more likely to opt for abortions, to advocate for publicly funded programs that support low-income families, e.g., subsidized child care for working parents, food stamps, even school vouchers.  

And could Catholics of all political philosophies come together to assure Catholic education to poor Catholics of all skin colors and ethnicities? The sisters gave of themselves to make all of us the affluent voting group we now are.  And those inner city immigrant schools are now closed.  Why don't we model for this country a commitment to "reaching back," lending a hand to all those still left behind.

We could come together the way some of our elected representatives and our bishops do not.   We need not point fingers.  We need to do the work we want the world to become, ala that great saint, Gandhi.
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
You have a strange way of calling for reconciliation with Bishops when you insult them every chance you get. This is the key part of the anti-Catholic bigot in the AESID definition that you missed. There is way to much hate for the hierarchy and the natural moral law to think you ever want justice and reconciliation. 
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Vince #23
But, if you wanted justice, you would save your greatest outrage for the actual perpetrators, not solely for the institutional mismanagement, which seems to have occurred in every secular institution in a very similar way as in the Church (this year alone: Penn State,  Boy Scouts, NY and California Public School systems...). My read is that today, the Catholic Church is safer than any other organization that deals with children.

If justice was your priority, you would not paint the vast majority of priests and Bishops with such a broad brush. You would try to sift the innocent from the guilty. You would treat people as innocent until proven guilty. You would understand that the greatest problem with child abuse in the Church is among the laity, as it has always been. You would want to hold public schools and other institutions to the same level of justice. I just do not see this kind of calibration in any of your posts. But, I will look for it in future posts.

4 years 6 months ago
#3 Penance for what Vince, standing up for the truth? The truth is playing hardball? Bishops have already implemented reforms for protection of minors. Pope and numerous bishops have apologized to victims. How much more should they grovel? Are there some bishops who still dont get it when it comes to sex abuse? Of course and we need to call them out, pray for them and be examples of holiness. But dont muddle this issue with standing up for traditional marriage. Is it discriminatory? It sure is. Just as its discriminatory to not allow bigamy, polygamy, incestous marriage, etc. You cant separate marriage from natural law and children. When we consider children in this equation we know whats worked best since the dawn of humanity even predating the Church itself; one man and one woman being parents. God help us all if the Church starts listening to polls and the culture about issues and not the Holy Spirit. Look no further than the mainstream Protestant denominations and their subsequent declining numbers. (Sorry I digressed on this forum) In the spirit of the Pope and Cardinal, congrats to the president my prayers are with him and congress.       
Bill Mazzella
4 years 6 months ago
"Whether it is in doctrines as fundamental as original sin, confession, apostolic authority or the Real Presence, or a myriad of moral teachings, many people cry 'Lord, Lord' but do not follow Him."


Try the beatitudes or are they just a suggestion?
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
1. I wrote "beginning with their role in the sexual abuse scandal."  Was I obligated to list everything? I can if you wish.

2. I agree with the other bloggers that the congratulations is an on-going effort of the bishops to be politically relevant. I argued that they have failed badly and that, one of the reasons they have failed is that they have little moral credibility.  The sexual abuse scandal is one-a very important one-of the reasons for their diminished credibility.

3. You have questioned the Pew data in earlier posts on the election, e.g., put other polls up that presented different findings and faulted them for not crafting questions that would weed out those you consider to be faux Catholics.  We discussed this at length. I argued that you were engaged in a silly exercise that had no legitimacy in the social sciences. You were just trying to condemn those Catholics with whom you disagree.

4. Go back to #10 where you write "The election was a very bad day for committed Catholics, and a good one for liberal-first Catholics."  Are you a "conservative-first Catholic"? You don't say.

5. What would I have the bishops do? Nothing.  Who cares if tell Obama that they "stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom" and request that he "help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone"?   I would think they could do penance instead. That's a form of pastoral care.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
"Bishop bashing is an article of anti-faith for some anti-Catholic self-identifying Catholics."

I love it-"anti-Catholic self-identifying Cathoilics"!! What are you?

Calling for justice and reconcilliation is not "bishop bashing."

So, Obama and those who voted for him are like the Nazis?!  In any case, the bishops didn't take a principled stand-it was a weeny political statement.  Please don't portray them as brave.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
From your past posts on this and other websites you seem to have taken the cause of defending the indefenisble on as a part-time job. Have you ever written anything critical of the bishops-individually or collectively-about this horrible mess? 

We are discussing the Catholic Church-not the Boy Scouts or school teachers. Please contact me by e-mail if you want to learn more about my work with local schools. As for the Church hierarchy's failings they are unique because, well, it's the Church (ref. New Testament) and the cover-up has been so longterm in an institution with very little transparency.

But back to Dolan and his hamhanded political maneuvering. . .
Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Vince #25
Look for my critical post on the bishops next to your last positive post on the bishops.

As regards the Church, is it only the hierarchy, or shouldn't we also include the much more massive problem in the laity in any critique (both sex abuse and abortion, use of prostitutes and pornography, voting for abortion enablers, adultery, divorce, any many others...). Wouldn't it be biased to only focus on the heirarchy and neglect the core of sin in our Church?
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
You have to have the last word again, right?

Please speak and write clearly and honestly about the bishops. Don't check what I write before you take a stand.

When you find the laity in the Church holding considerable power and well-organized, (not to mention operating in secret) hiding sexual abuse for decades (actually, much longer) let me know. You can't argue that the hierarchy must lead the Church and then play possum when they harm children.

Tim O'Leary
4 years 6 months ago
Vince - stop asking me questions if you want the last word.
Maybe, you unintentionally misinterpreted my comment. It was saying you will get my criticism of the clergy when you provide praise for them. When have you last written a complimentary post on the Bishops? Ever? Just send me the link.

I wrote the following in the Summer: ''As regards pedophilia (sodomy of minors) in the Church, it is an awful sin and a crime, and the priests (and even many more lay Catholics) who have committed such a crime should have the book thrown at them. And any priest or bishop, or psychologist or doctor who knowingly put children in danger should also be harshly dealt with.'' Also, see my comments to this post on clerical abuse.
You want to avoid any criticism of the laity because they don’t have the power. For you, it seems it’s all about a grab for power and not about justice or protection of the children. But, what power really does the hierarchy have? You freely criticize them without fear of rebuttal. You scoff that they can't even persuade people to vote for religious freedom. Where indeed is their power, except only in fidelity to the Gospel.
Vince Killoran
4 years 6 months ago
Well, of course-but good grief: when a serious abuse of our children by a powerful organization that has little transparency occurs (and "our" Church to boot) it is incredible that someone would respond that it happens all the time with other groups and people. BTW, lest you think I was selective in who I challenged about abuse I invited you to e-mail for details of my actions concerning abuse in our local school district. 

I think there are many Catholics out there who just cannot bring themselves-despite all the evidence-to offer a modicum of criticism of the hierarchy.  I don't know why-perhaps it is a deep-seated fear of taking responsibility. Maybe they grew up in a culture that was in awe of clergy. Then again, they may think that blind, unquestioning obedience is what is expected.  Baffling and sad.

When we don't speak out and demand justice we sin (and yes, that goes for other incidences of abuse). 

I meant to type "coy" but "cloy" might work. 

Thanks for that last word. 

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