Posts Tagged ‘Al Smith Dinner’


Last week the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee in New York City decided to allow an openly homosexual group to March under their own banner, and Cardinal Dolan (Next year’s Grand Marshall) embraced the decision openly, warmly, and uncritically. These events created an outcry among Catholic writers, myself included. Among the rather strongly worded opinions was that of Msgr. Charles Pope, whose blog post on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website lasted about as long as a pint of Guinness at the parade before it was taken down. Lifesite News has archived it here. The article is as potent as it is brief, and it merits a thoughtful reply.

In abstract, Msgr. Pope points out how events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner have become shells of their former selves, “farcical,” to use his description.

Now the St. Patrick’s Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let’s be honest: St. Patrick’s Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it.

In New York City in particular, the “parade” is devolving into a farcical and hateful ridicule of the faith that St. Patrick preached.

On the Al Smith Dinner,

Decades ago the “Al Smith Dinner” was a time for Republicans and Democrats to bury the hatchet (even if only temporarily) and come together to raise money for the poor and to emphasize what unites us rather than what divides us. But in the old days the death of 50 million infants was not what divided us. We were divided about lesser things such as how much of the budget should go to defense and how much to social spending. Reasonable men might differ over that.

But now we are being asked to raise toasts and to enjoy a night of frivolity with those who think it is acceptable to abort children by the millions each year, with those who think anal sex is to be celebrated as an expression of love and that LGBTQIA… (I=intersexual, A= Asexual) is actually a form of sanity to which we should tip our hat, and with those who stand four-square against us over religious liberty.

His recommendation,

It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.

But don’t go to the parade; stay away from the Al Smith Dinner and all that “old school” stuff that hangs on in a darkened world. And as for St Patrick’s Day, it’s time to stop wearin’ the green and instead take up the purple of Lent and mean it. Enough of the celebration of stupidity, frivolity, and drunkenness that St Paddy’s day has become. We need penance now, not foolishness. We don’t need parades and dinner with people who scoff at our teachings, insist we compromise, use us for publicity, and make money off of us. We’re being played for (and are?) fools.

End the St Patrick’s parade. End the Al Smith Dinner and all other such compromised events. Enough now, back to Church! Wear the purple of Lent and if there is going to be a procession, let it be Eucharistic and penitential for the sins of this age.

It’s hard to argue with a priest of Msgr. Pope’s caliber. In so many ways he’s right. What has gone out from the Church in large measure is holiness. But then, that’s nothing new. Look at Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). In medieval Europe, the day before Ash Wednesday was an occasion of binge eating of meats and cheeses, old flour before the severe fast for Lent. All manner of perversion crept into the occasion until we arrived at what exists today. Hardly an evening of examination of conscience. The same for what has happened to All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

There can be no doubt that the Church is besieged on all fronts, and we are witnessing the development of a siege mentality. Abroad we hear of Hindus killing Christians in India, Muslims slaughtering Christians across the Middle East and in Africa, and the threatening of the Pope’s life by these savages.

At home we are witnessing the decay of democracy and the rise of a totalitarian state. The bishops, Cardinal Dolan in particular, have been played for fools by President Obama, and the cardinal speaks of “being disappointed,” by the betrayal of Obama’s promises on contraceptive and abortion mandates. Religious liberties are being eroded by a president who doesn’t see the beheadings of Americans as a declaration of war by an enemy who has promised to fly their flag from the White House; but that same president claims that opponents of his HHS Mandate are waging a war on women. So the Little Sisters of the Poor are at war with us, but ISIS is not.

Gay marriage has taken deep root, while traditional marriage is being opted out of at frightful rates. And now out and proud gays being led along Fifth Avenue in parade by a cardinal who has expressed no opposition whatsoever. The same cardinal welcomed President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner (where his predecessors actually prevented some nasty politicians from attending) with equally warm and uncritical embrace as he has the gay contingent he’ll lead along Fifth Avenue past his own cathedral.

It’s easy to see where Msgr. Pope wants to pull out of the Al Smith Dinner and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Respectfully, I must disagree.

This is New York City, and as the world knows we’re fighters here. We don’t lie down and die, and we don’t take no for an answer. Retreat and surrender are not in our DNA. That’s why this is all so visible. But many in the church are in headlong retreat, abandoning the high ground to the adversary. Consider how many dioceses have closed their adoption agencies rather than comply with new laws mandating that they work with gays and lesbians to place children for adoption. Why?

Why close down? Are these children not worth fighting for? Why go down without a fight? Why die with a whimper, when being forcibly shut down by armed police would make a better demonstration of the thuggishness of Obama’s ilk, of the erosion of religious liberty?

Several bishops have spoken of having to shut down other vital operations rather than comply with the HHS Mandate. Again, why?

Retreat emboldens the enemy, and increases the bloodlust with which they pursue us. In the end, the very churches that Msgr. Pope recommends we retreat to will have their tax-exempt status taken away. Then what? What happens in the face of increasingly punitive and crippling taxes by an adversary dedicated to our demise in the public sphere?

No. The answer is no.

The Al Smith Dinner raises a great deal of money for Catholic Charities. We don’t need to invite the most rabidly pro-abortion politicians, but we can use the sharp satire of the evening to skewer them on the important issues. Who suffers if we retreat from this event, whose tone is set by New York’s archbishop? We all do, and the poor most especially.

Similarly, why retreat from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade? The parade was never on par with the sort of Eucharistic procession now advocated by Msgr. Pope. While it certainly honored Ireland’s patron saint it was at least as much a projection of political power by the minority Catholic population in New York and the other cities, a message to the protestant ruling class that here they were not protected by a monarch. Here the Irish had an equal voice, and their growing numbers demanded a different reality than what they suffered in the old country.

New York’s archbishops, from the building of the cathedral post-Civil War, have lived in a stately mansion on Madison Avenue. A faith-filled Irish populace led by our Irish bishops were a force to be reckoned with, and politicians came to that mansion with hat in hand. That is no longer the reality in New York.

Catholics’ faith and fervor have been watered down through a combination of poor catechesis, extinct evangelization, and socioeconomic upward mobility that leads to less reliance on God for survival and celebrates self-initiative. It doesn’t help when our bishops and clergy don’t fight back. Waving the white flag has become habitual and has set a tone for the laity. Would that the USCCB organize boycotts of all the parade sponsors who forced the inclusion of openly gay contingents. Would that our clergy and laity get on board. Would that we have a segment in every bulletin listing the corporate lepers who wage war on us.

Big Gay has seized control of the corporate world, threatening them with crippling PR campaigns if they don’t comply. That’s how Big Gay made an end run around a US Supreme Court ruling protecting the right of the Boy Scouts to determine membership criteria. It’s how they have leveraged the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee when Big Gay lost every court challenge against the parade organizers.

Big Gay (who are only 1.6% of the population) does not back down, while for over a decade we have been in headlong retreat. We are more than big enough to win a boycott battle against these same corporations, especially if we partner with like-minded protestants and other religious groups.

No, Msgr. Pope. We can do both. We can yet again become the holy people you call for us to be, AND stand our ground. That’s OUR dinner, not Obama’s. That’s OUR saint, OUR parade, not Big Gay’s. Those are OUR children in orphanages, whose care has been entrusted to US, not Big Gay.

A church that will not fight for orphans will not fight for itself. If it will not fight for itself, if it will not become holy once again, that parade will become our funeral procession.
Tonight is Night Two of our Novena for Priests right here at Coming Home. We are praying this Novena for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions.


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