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Nuns That Aren’t So Gay

I have read with great interest the recent story of the “early retirement” of Mozilla’s CEO, Brendan Eich, who, in his ten days as CEO, managed to generate a whirlwind of controversy over his (relatively meager) financial support of California’s Proposition 8 (which was ratified by over 52% of California’s voters). That’s because the situation mirrors the situation of a nun (a Sister Jane Dominic Laurel) who gave a speech on homosexuality to a local (Catholic) high school and was subsequently “Mozilla-ed” and run out of town to take a “sabbatical”. Rather than being isolated events, these two situations are part of a pattern of (hypocritical) intolerance from the gay crusaders as they seek to crush anyone who raises even the faintest criticism of the homosexual agenda.

She's evil. Clearly.

She’s evil. Clearly.

While I’m sure Eich’s and Laurel’s resignations were completely voluntary, these events are as ominous as they are predictable. Coming from a group of people, who, for all their supposed popularity, still can’t manage to win an election, the desperate shrieking designed to end debate is a fairly routine response from leftist agitators. However, considering that the crusaders’ response to the aforementioned criticisms has all the hallmarks of a Maoist Struggle Session (complete with the requirement that the offending party submit a written apology), there is some cause for concern here. Of particular interest is the case of the Catholic nun, whose religious order presumably follows the lead of the pope, and for whom criticism of the homosexual agenda should be a given. Yet, in the face of criticism, the nuns capitulated just as quickly as the go-along to get-along types at Mozilla.

So, what explains Mozilla’s willingness to fire its CEO after a mere 10 days and the nuns prostrating themselves before the altar of political correctness? The short answer is a desire to be liked. If a crowd of people is criticizing you and drawing attention to you, it is much easier to capitulate and satisfy the hunger of the mob than to continue to draw attention to yourself. I’d be willing to bet that if the pro-marriage types picked a heretofore unknown CEO and started drawing attention to his political views in the same way the gay agitators do (assuming of course, they had no moral qualms about having a man fired for his political beliefs), they could probably force a couple “conversions” of their own. Indeed, that is why struggle sessions (in their various forms) are so popular among totalitarians. That is why these thuggish tactics are so successful. They force you to choose sides. You can either stand alone against the mob and be consumed by it, or simply give them what they want so they’ll go away. Most people opt for the latter. That is why Mozilla wasted no time in dumping its CEO (and even apologized for not doing it faster) and why the nuns threw one of their own to the wolves. It’s particularly tempting to satisfy the mob when it means sacrificing someone else. Mozilla’s board and the leadership of the Dominicans could have stood behind their people and defended them against the ludicrous demands of the mob. But they chose the easy path, to their lasting shame.

Of Princes and Pawns

I have been fairly intrigued by the actions of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. As one of the “princes of the Church” and as the ostensible face of the Catholic Church in America (in his capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), he possesses a certain level of moral gravitas. Indeed, one should hope that a man of his standing would have a rather thorough understanding of Catholic social teaching. This makes his concurrent decision to both sue the federal government for “a violation of personal civil rights” and his decisions to invite the aforementioned civil rights abuser to the Al Smith Dinner and to provide the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention quite perplexing.

To deal with the dinner first, the Cardinal argues, in a response to critics, that the Al Smith Dinner is nothing more than an opportunity to engage in civilized dialogue. He quips, “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.” I find this explanation less than fulfilling, and it indicates that Dolan misses the point that his critics are making. The Al Smith Dinner is not merely Tim and the Gang grabbing a couple beers after work with their IRS auditor. It’s a national event that will be broadcast to the entire country and is a very public Church function. What kind of message will it send when people see the man who has been crusading against the HHS mandate all summer yucking it up with the creator of that mandate? And what about the people who spent the better part of the summer fasting and praying for an end to that mandate because “[their] right to live out [their] faith is being threatened“? They will think that the Church isn’t serious. They will think it’s merely a bunch of blowhards running around scaring people, but at the end of the day, it’s no big deal. They will think their leaders are a bunch of hypocrites, invoking everyone to fast and pray, while they go out and party.

Now, there’s something to be said for engaging the opposition. But granting your opponent a very large microphone against the backdrop of your organization while you sue him for voiding your right to self-determination is a bridge too far. The good Cardinal is naive indeed, if he thinks that Obama won’t use that opportunity as a major PR stunt. Obama could say something along the lines of, “They were suing me, but look at this picture of us laughing together. We’re all good now. They were just kidding about the whole First Amendment thing.” If the Cardinal’s Fortnight for Freedom shtick was intended to unearth the dangers of the HHS mandate, the Al Smith Dinner will only serve to bury them.

A similar argument can be made for the Cardinal’s appearance at the DNC this week, except that the contradictions are much more glaringly obvious. The Cardinal will give the final benediction at something that will have spent nearly a week celebrating abortion and the sexual revolution. Considering that abortion is the one policy that the American Church has consistently and vigorously opposed, Dolan’s capstone performance for the DNC is quite odd indeed. Coupled with the Al Smith Dinner, if his goal is to completely eliminate any moral legitimacy that the Church still has in the eyes of the public, he is well on his way to doing so.

Of course the burning question is “Why?” What could be motivating the Cardinal to act in such a manner? In my opinion, and this problem is by no means unique to churchmen, I think that proximity to power and influence can cause serious degradation in one’s moral fiber. When you spend a good portion of your day hanging out with Presidents, and congressmen, and Senators, you may encounter a lot of opposition to your views. You want to be liked. You don’t want people to think poorly of you. And you definitely don’t want to be called names. So, you capitulate. If Cardinal Dolan refused to invite Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, he, himself, would be inviting all kinds of partisan criticism. In the process, he would probably alienate himself from those in power. He would risk severing his very valuable connections with the White House and other agencies of the government. A drink from the chalice of power is very intoxicating, and once tasted, difficult to forgo. Of course, this sort of unholy alliance between the church and the government is hardly new (cf. Martin Luther), but it tends to have a corrupting influence on both entities (cf. most of Western history).

As a great man once said, “Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to say and do what is easy, and say yes rather than to say no, when no is what’s required.” Cardinal Dolan, it seems, would rather be popular.