Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Cardinal Dolan on Face the Nation speaks about Kennedy’s Houston speech and also a Mormon President

April 11th, 2012, Promulgated by benanderson

You may have noticed that Archbishop Cardinal Dolan was recently on CBS’ Face the Nation this past weekend. I want to first note that I think overall Cardinal Dolan has done an excellent job addressing the nation. His vocal defense against the HHS mandate has been stellar. Most times I see him in the news I wish to applaud him. However, there were 2 points that I think he fumbled in this interview.

1) he defended Kennedy’s Houston speech. He says:

I would cheered what John Kennedy said, he was right, and I would– I would find myself among those applauding that speech. That having been said, I would also say that Senator Santorum had a good point because, unfortunately, what John Kennedy said in September of 1960 to the Baptist Ministerial Alliance in Texas has been misinterpreted to mean that a separation of church and state also means a cleavage a wall between one’s faith and one’s political decisions, between one’s– one’s moral focus and between one– the way one might act in the political sphere. I don’t think John Kennedy meant that and as you know recent scholarship has shown that John Kennedy was very inspired by vision, by character, by virtue, let’s call that faith, let’s call that morals.

It almost sounds like his grace is referring to the documents of V2. It wasn’t the speech that was wrong – it’s the misinterpretation. This view is in stark contrast to Archbishop Chaput’s take on that same speech:

It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life.

2) he said that Mitt Romney being a Mormon should have no influence over whether a Catholic ought to vote for him. He says

there may be reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney as President of the United States that he is a Mormon cannot be one of them

Personally, I think that logic is flawed as well. Jimmy Akin wrote up a good article a little while back discussing just this issue. Besides the issues Jimmy raises, I don’t see why it can’t be as simple as saying that if someone believes in a religion that is seriously flawed (and demonstrably so), then I simply question their judgment. In my mind, it’s kind of like saying “if Mitt Romney believes that every computer has a monkey inside of it and that’s how it works, then that shouldn’t effect my decision to vote for him.” The guy still uses computers and his crazy idea doesn’t really effect any of his decisions, so why should it matter? Well, it matters because it makes me question his ability to reason.

I wonder if Cardinal Dolan really believes what he said or if he’s just trying to be accommodating. Kind of like when he came to Sacred Heart Cathedral and led the congregation in a round of applause for the wonderful success of Bishop Clark’s episcopacy and later on the local TV news again applauded the Diocese of Rochester for their unique use of lay leadership.

Anyways, I’m more curious about your thoughts on all of this than about what I have to say. What do you think?

UPDATE: Just wanted to clarify a few things.  The analogy above is only an analogy.  I’m not saying that believing in Mormonism is equivalent to believing monkeys run computers.  I’m not saying you should never vote for a Mormon.  In fact, in the upcoming general election it seems apparent enough that Christians ought to vote for a Mormon.  Mormons have also done a spectacular job standing strong against government tyranny.  Mormon people are good people.  The only point I intended to make was that there is nothing wrong with considering a candidate’s religion when weighing your decision of whether to vote for them or not.


14 Responses to “Cardinal Dolan on Face the Nation speaks about Kennedy’s Houston speech and also a Mormon President”

  1. JLo says:

    Ben, I, too, always was stunned by what I perceive as terrible judgment by Mormons in believing the strange things they do (and I had reason to thoroughly study their beliefs). However, please consider that most non-Catholics think we are deranged in believing that the bread and wine on our altars become the actual body and blood of Our Lord during our Holy Mass. Please consider that in judging the judgment of what Mormons believe… that is only fair, don’t you think?

    In both questions of your post, Kennedy and Mormons, I would say this:

    Regarding Kennedy’s “confession”, the truth that cannot be denied by honest people is that one’s faith influences one’s life in all areas, and should! It is a part of everything we are, and Kennedy separated himself from that truth in his bid to placate Catholic haters. The truth that faith influences one’s life is why the teachings of a religion like Muslims hold is so dangerous and misnamed “religion”. Their beliefs tell them that God is not father and loving, but rather is vengeful, and their “religion” gives them a personal license to kill in his name! It FUNDAMENTALLY is not a religion so much as a quest for world control, which is exactly what it started out to be! Other religions don’t have the fullness of truth, but they do not preach killing those who don’t agree with them; and as American’s, we should accept a man’s faith as long as it is not the conquest of others as Muslims believe.

    The first thing that leaped into my mind, though, when I started reading your post is how I always, at every Holy Mass, thank God for giving me the true faith at my birth, confessing to him that I believe I would not have searched out the truth had he not had that in his plan for me from the start. Some people do not question, and perhaps that’s the place Mitt Romney finds himself in and what I feared would have been my lot if God had not provided the Truth at my birth. I will tell you that Mormons who separate from Mormonism separate themselves from their ENTIRE life, their families, their entire community, from a place that provides comfort and love and reason to live. How many people up and make that pilgrimage from untruth to the real truth? As I have said above, I long have recognized that I may have never done so, and so my birth faith is truly the best of all the gifts God has given me, and I pray for those who have not been so lucky in coming to it in such ease.

    I have some first-hand experience in dealing with Mormons, having worked with dozens during my employment years in another state, so this is not off the top of my head but well thought out over many years of study and real-life experiences with them. I do believe that even though Mormons employ situational ethics, such as: no abortion unless my kid needs one; no divorce, unless I need one, etc., reflecting that there are no injunctions against such things in their faith walk, Mormons are good, solid, family people. These are serious flaws which I wish they would open their eyes to and then look beyond their flawed beliefs. But also consider that there is no separation from faith and community and family by doing such things in Protestant religions. Most of the thousands of protestant communities long ago gave over to accepting and even embracing divorce and contraception, homosexuality, and a whole host of things Catholics have firm rules against.

    Why I dislike your posting, Ben, is that you are ahead of what I am sure the Obama people will do, … they will tell the American people a great deal more about Mormonism than people now know, and the telling will make voters think that Mormons are not a people they want in leadership anywhere! I think all the “bombs” of Mormonism (and there are many) will be released close to November 6, so that people will be emotionally influenced against Mitt Romney. That will be too bad, because he’s a fine man who loves family and his country and wants to save it from the likes of those who follow our current president.

    +JMJ, please bless America!

  2. Jim says:

    Ben, although I can see your concerns about Romney’s Mormonism, I would much prefer ANY change in the White House at this point. I was disappointed to hear about Santorum’s departure, as he would have made a good Catholic president. But now, its either Romney, or another four more years of Obamaism….God forbid!

  3. snowshoes says:

    Thank you Ben, JLo and Jim, good discussion. I’m afraid I’m not as current as I should be with the candidates.

    What I would like to see from Mr. Romney, and if he hasn’t done it yet, he must, is a discussion, preferably in video with transcript, but written would satisfy me, in which he lays out his religious beliefs and what he sees to be the practical import of those beliefs, morally and ethically, in his plan to serve as president.

    If he can do this in a way in which those of us who don’t share his religious beliefs are reassured that he plans to act from what we recognize to be a coherent set of principles using a rational process, a decision-making process, which is recognizable, then he will probably get my vote. If he can’t do that, then I may not vote, and I am shocked and saddened that I must even consider such an option.

    Mormon beliefs, and their world view as Ben has demonstrated, are very seriously erroneous. They are polytheists. The problem is that most Mormons do not study philosophy or theology, even the leaders, so many don’t even know what the word means. I have been the victim of some of their ruses, and they misuse their minor children in their ruses to unfairly influence people to join their “church”. And of course, then there are the jack-mormons, who hold to the teachings of Joseph Smith, polygamy and all, and who call Romney an apostate… So it is up to Romney, I wish him good luck, and I too pray for our country. And appropriately enough, Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!!!

  4. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks for the comments folks.

    please consider that most non-Catholics think we are deranged in believing that the bread and wine on our altars

    yes, that’s true, but I think the difference is that Mormonism has empirically falsifiable beliefs. The idea of personal planets (I’m not even sure that’s what they believe) isn’t as crazy to me as the historical claims (that have contrary evidence). It’s not the supernatural unprovable stuff that I find especially unreasonable (although, from our faith we know it not to be true) – it’s the natural/historical claims that I believe are obviously false.

    JLo, I also completely agree that we are blessed (not better than anyone else) for having been given the grace to be in Christ’s Church. You provided some good insight to their familial and cultural structure.

    Also, I in no way meant to say “don’t vote for Romney because he’s a Mormon”. The only point I was trying to make is that it’s a factor that someone could in good conscience use in weighing their decision. To say it doesn’t matter is, I believe, wrong. I will certainly be casting my vote for Romney (assuming it’s a done deal that he’s the nominee) over the Saul Alinsky candidate. In fact, I think it’s rather clear now (as it also was 4 years ago) that a Catholic cannot vote for Obama in good conscience.

  5. JLo says:

    Snowshoes, I believe that one’s faith informs one’s life, but unless it is a “faith” which thinks nothing of destroying, and in fact believes it MUST dominate and destroy those of other faiths, I believe a person’s religion is his own business, and so does the American Constitution.

    That Mormons see Jesus in a light other than we, that they do not recognize the Trinity and are not monotheistic is tragic… we Christians need to do a better job of reaching them…. but it is not a testament to their not being ethical and just and loving enough of their fellow man to serve.

    To say that one must believe as you believe is making yourself the Just Judge, and I don’t think you want to do that. You demand a “coherent set of principles using a rational process, etc.”, whatever that means. How a person expects to be rewarded by God is not for us to comment on; how he serves his God in the people around him, in the world around him, is what we may notice and run to or run from.

    Give me liberty from those who actually would judge my hopes and longings instead of my conduct, because my hopes and longings are only God’s to judge! Not fair what you demand; not American, and I dread that there may be more people who believe as you and Ben than as I. Gov. Romney in all public, outward, tangible, measurable respects is a man who has demonstrated that he would serve our country well. Leave his private longings and beliefs to God and himself.

    It is your duty to vote for the person who would best serve our country and its freedoms and the life of its people. If you cannot see that one is the best, then you must vote for the one who would least misuse the principles of life and of our Faith. To just do nothing always is unacceptable, but especially now, because our country is at a crossroad. Don’t take my word for it: read the U. S. Bishops’ April 12 Statement on Religious Liberty and understand that our country is currently in the hands of one who works to subjugate American freedoms and who recognizes that the way to make us complete government pawns it is first necessary to destroy the Catholic Church. Given those stakes, your vote must not stay in a drawer, even if you don’t feel warm and fuzzy about where you cast it.

    +JMJ, please bless America!

  6. JLo says:

    Ben, you say that you believe Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith is “a factor that someone could in good conscience use in weighing their decision.” And you also say regarding his Mormon faith that “To say it doesn’t matter is, I believe, wrong.”

    I can only say to you that it should not matter for all the reasons in my prior post to Snowshoes. Please consider all that I wrote there and put your amazement at what Mormons believe in a drawer where it belongs, not in public discussion. That you will even discuss what you consider nonsense and insist that SOME people might find it unacceptable and bla bla bla, just feeds an unjust fire.

    Judge the man’s conduct, please; judge his public record. That is what the majority of voters in 2008 did NOT do regarding our current leader. They avoided evidence of actual conduct, even on-the-record legislative conduct, and then guessed at the man’s heart, at his beliefs: gushing instead of informed thinking is what pulled the lever beside his name.

    +JMJ, please bless America!

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    put your amazement at what Mormons believe in a drawer where it belongs, not in public discussion.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you suggesting we shouldn’t discuss religion in the public sphere?

    That you will even discuss what you consider nonsense and insist that SOME people might find it unacceptable and bla bla bla, just feeds an unjust fire

    again – I’m not really sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t discuss religious beliefs at all or just that I did so disrespectfully? If the latter, please tell me specifically how – I’m certainly open to suggestions for improvement in that regard.

    Gov. Romney in all public, outward, tangible, measurable respects is a man who has demonstrated that he would serve our country well.

    putting the Mormon stuff aside for a second, you might want to consider this

    I’m guessing you’ve also seen Romney defend his pro-choice position in the 90s? I’m not saying he hasn’t sincerely switched sides, but I’d much rather have a politician who has stood strong on the issues for their whole career.

    Again I will simply emphasize what I’ve already said that Romney is much better than Obama. It’s almost a moot point right now, but whatever the outcome principles will be set forth as this election makes way and those principles will stick with people. So far, I’ve mostly heard those who say Mormonism should be completely left out of the decision try to paint those of us who disagree as people who are afraid of their beliefs and whose minds are warped (recent print edition of the National Review). As usual, I believe the right approach is a little more nuanced. It matters, but it is only one factor.

    Also, JLo, if you have time, I’m wondering what comments you’d offer in regard to the Jimmy Akin article I linked to in the original post.

  8. JLo says:

    My whole purpose in trying to pull you back from such discussion now and for this time until Election Day, Ben, is not for MORE discussion, of articles or anything else. My reason was and still is that the “bombs” of Mormonism are strange indeed; and if even reasonable people suspect that they just cannot trust a person who believes such things and have as a first reaction the sense that such beliefs are a direct offense to the Lord, just imagine how most of the population’s gut will react? I truly fear this, because some of the stuff of Mormonism is truly very hard to stomach and make one recoil when learning of it; and if Evangelicals then stay home, we are sunk. Another four years of this march to enslavement and we may never surface again as the country formed under God that we were formed to be.

    That, in the very big nutshell above, is why I wrote as I did. This is no time for deep discussions on Mormonism! That is exactly the secret weapon that probably will be used near the end of this campaign. A devout Protestant friend from Las Vegas (which has a HUGE Mormon population) just wrote to me yesterday after reading my posts to you: “…one thing I know about Mormon’s — they love this country, they love their families. Let’s make him (Romney) define his platform; and if he doesn’t fulfill his promises, then it’s back to the drawing board in 2016, but we just have to get Obama out of there now.”

    That is my express reason for writing as I have, and I have no interest in discussing Jimmy Akin or the National Review articles, because as fans of both, I probably agree with both. Evangelize Mormons always, but no need to give a recitation of their differences now, please.

    End of discussion for me. My intent was not to offend or to back away now for any reason but to serve my first purpose, which is electing an honest man who loves his country and all his countrymen as evidenced by his conduct and defeating a man whose conduct shows he is neither honest nor loving toward anyone but himself.

    Thanks for listening and for giving me the space to make a case for not being complicit in “outing” all of Mormon belief.

    +JMJ, please bless America!

  9. JLo says:

    Just what is your purpose here, Ben? I really don’t get it. I guess you don’t agree with me (or Cardinal Dolan) that not voting for a Mormon, just BECAUSE he is a Mormon, is wrong. I believe that Mormonism is completely limp (at best), but not evil, as is Islam! You are obviously intent on defeating a Mormon running for president; and at this time in our history, that is a puzzle to me, unless you want Mr. Obama re-elected.

    BTW, I, too, esteem Fr. Longenecker and have read him. In addition, I have some great dialogues on Mormonism, DVD and CD as well as books from a Catholic perspective that I would be delighted to loan to you (as I have to others), BUT NOT NOW! NOW is the time to defeat the evil that currently occupies our White House!

    With all respect, I believe your mission in this regard at this time is not well conceived, sir.

  10. Ben Anderson says:

    You are obviously intent on defeating a Mormon running for president

    uh – no. I’ve repeatedly said that isn’t the case. I’m just saying that it should be a factor. In this upcoming election, it doesn’t matter because other issues are much bigger, obviously. With the primary election in recent hindsight I think it’s good to reflect on how we got the guy we did… and I think this attitude of “it doesn’t matter if he’s a Mormon” is one of the reasons we got him. I think money was a bigger factor, but I digress. I don’t think people should make the type of absolute statements like Card. Dolan made. I hear such absolute statements all the time and I find it sad – because people hear it and believe it. Just last week in a homily I heard a priest say that you should never deny someone if they wish to volunteer in the parish. Really? Never?

  11. Ben Anderson says:

    and JLo, I understand your concern. It’s not like I go up to swing voters telling them the errors of Mormonism. This is CleansingFire – I’m guessing we don’t have many swing voters here. IOW – the fact that we discuss this here isn’t going to have any influence on the general election. At least the assumption I’m working with.

  12. JLo says:

    His Mormonism should no longer be a factor, Ben, because the primary is OVER and he IS what we have to go up against the most vile president anyone can find in the history of our country!! I don’t want to use my time and typing to list the adjectives that describe the monster we currently have in the White House! Talking about Mormonism is OVER for now. The monster MUST be sent packing!

    I also think Cardinal Dolan is right, that one should not go against a person who by all accounts is a good, ethical, moral person who wants to serve and gives good experience to speak that he will serve well and ethically and morally JUST BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE THE TRUE FAITH!!! That is not even American, let alone Catholic! Have you ever noticed that we are NOT like Mormons? We do NOT just accept and take care of our own?

    I am perhaps a Catholic in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Bill Buckley, whose rule was to support the one who COULD win against the evil confronting us. Maybe not the perfect, the best you would choose, but the best who COULD win, just so it, too, is not an evil.

    As to this site’s thrust and audience, your assumption in that regard might also be faulty, Ben… many of your readers would just stay home if they had Obama and a Mormon to choose from, especially if they have no chance to think things through, but are just hearing of some of those strange Mormon beliefs just before the election. Chances are they just might stay home, and NO ONE CAN STAY HOME THIS YEAR; because if that evil yahoo wins another four, this web site might also very soon be history, as liberty after liberty after liberty has ALREADY been piled up and readied to make into a complete ash heap.

    I stand by all I’ve said, Ben… this is no time to pontificate on the weakness of Mormonism and roll out all its strange beliefs.

    Lastly, about the priest who shocked you in saying during his homily last week that you should never deny someone if they wish to volunteer in the parish. I agree with that priest. NEVER turn anyone away; rather, FIND something for them to do, to contribute. Your idea of just showing them the door is just amazing to me. Reminds me of a very wise employer who told me that firing someone is the easy way… developing them is harder, but the better way.

    I hope you’ll be stuffing envelopes for Mitt Romney over these next few months and getting people out to vote for him, Ben.… evil must be sent packing, and Romney is the only ammo we have. Make him state his plans and platforms and hold him to them. If he doesn’t deliver, if he reneges, he, too, will be ousted in four years, but a real threat to freedom, to all the liberties we cherish, will be averted this November with his election. I say do nothing to hinder that, not even the things that Fr. Longenecker is doing. It’s not productive, not a favor for America. Please desist. +JMJ

  13. Ben Anderson says:

    I think we’re talking past each other. I’m more focusing on principles and you seem to be more focused on practice (the current situation). My principle is that if 2 candidates are pretty equal, then I will certainly take their religion into consideration. So, while it wouldn’t be an automatic disqualifier, it certainly could be a tipping point. I’m guessing you wouldn’t disagree with that? (for a good argument, see the Jimmy Akin article above.) Here’s another scenario for the volunteer situation… What if someone clearly states that they desire to change the Church? They believe the Church is wrong about sexual issues, etc. They are vocal about it and constantly criticize our Holy Father. Is this someone you’d want volunteering? I suppose maybe, just maybe you could let them trim the hedges. And obviously if they changed their ways, we should welcome them back.

    In practice, you’re saying we shouldn’t even bother talking about this issue now and we shouldn’t divert our attention or give anybody a reason not to vote for Romney. I see your point. I don’t necessarily agree, but I see your point.

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