Immediately after we launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign, a concerned Catholic wrote to us and said:
“Did not Jesus Himself dine with, seek the company of, and take audience with sinners, tax collectors, rabbis, and Pharisees who all believed and preached falsities? Who are we to stray from His example? Who are we to discriminate against a leader of many instead of dining with him, and trying to convince him of the true word of Jesus Christ?”
My initial reaction was to feel sorrow for this fellow because he was sincerely trying to excuse the public embrace by members of the hierarchy of a man who has done nothing to advance any precept of the natural law. Obama is not confused about what he is doing to the Church. His actions are, and have been, intentional.
Furthermore, as author and columnist Phil Lawler wrote recently:
“When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were private. They were not ‘photo ops’ for political candidates. The Lord could speak directly to the hearts of his dining companions, and convert them. Remember, St. Matthew left the tax-collecting business to follow Christ. Does anyone believe that after the Al Smith Dinner, Obama will decide to rescind the contraceptive mandate?
“Following the dinner, America will see front-page photos and stories that feature Cardinal Dolan sitting with Obama, laughing and having a great time. Such images send a message to America that all is well between the leader of the United States of America and the leader of the American Catholic Church.”
I am not sure who will be the most gravely scandalized by the photo op, but the point is that Obama is a danger to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and all that we hold dear as Christians in America. Our campaign is not a campaign of discrimination or negativity, it is an effort to follow Christ’s admonition to his disciples (Luke 17: 1-2): “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”
We are all called to be faithful, and sometimes that means making difficult decisions or taking unpopular actions in order to defend Christ and His Church. This is not a time for squeamishness or half-hearted attempts to uphold a tradition which, in the case of the Al Smith Dinner, needs to be broken.
Jeffrey Mirus wrote about this very thing, saying, “The Church does not strive for political power. But she does strive for moral power. And her moral authority translates into moral power only when her bishops attend zealously to their primary tasks.”
Further, while Archbishop Lori has said that the invitation extended by Cardinal Dolan to President Obama should not be viewed as an endorsement of Obama’s actions, he also opined:
“The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person. . . .”
“Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”
Amen, Archbishop Lori. The Al Smith Dinner is merely a social function, but the idea that will be transmitted through the images of that dinner will be, dare I say, that a vote for either candidate is okay with the hierarchy.
This is precisely why American Life League launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign. We don’t want Catholics to be confused about the most pro-abortion president in American history. Our duty is to be faithful, defend moral principles, and beg our hierarchy to do the same.
We pray for Cardinal Dolan and all members of the hierarchy, “Lead us out of temptation and toward truth, particularly today when so much is at stake.”
Again, we repeat, No Dinner for Obama.