Institutions Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

GetGetReligion: Pope Francis, Culture Warrior?

GetReligion logo
GetReligion logo

GetReligion logo

“GetReligion…just doesn’t get religion.” –Anon.

Over the weekend, Dawn Eden, the latest horse in Terry Mattingly’s GetReligion stable, took RNS’ David Gibson to task for his article indicating that Catholic conservatives may have had it with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The archbishop of New York’s latest sin? Looking with favor on the decision by the organizers of the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade to permit gay groups to march for the first time.
Not that Eden claims the article is mistaken. Why even the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, who’s never met an American bishop he won’t defend, has parted company with Dolan on the parade issue. No, in her book Gibson’s journalistic crime is to suggest in a piece of reportage that the cardinal’s position is of a piece with Pope Francis’. To wit:

How much impact this criticism will have is unclear. But Dolan clearly seems to be comfortable with the more inclusive posture adopted by Pope Francis.

The cardinal last month gave a lengthy interview to the Boston Globe’s Vatican expert, John Allen, in which Dolan indicated that the days of the culture wars in the church were coming to a close.

The effort to withhold Communion from pro-choice Catholic pols “is in the past,” he said. And he also said that Francis wants pastoral, social justice-focused bishops “who would not be associated with any one ideological camp.”

According to Eden, the second sentence of the first graph above “is not a journalistic statement. It is an opinion, pure and simple.” And she goes on — you’ve got to read it yourself — to try to show that the pope’s famous “who am I to judge?” remark, understood correctly in context, would actually put him on the anti-gay marchers side of the parade debate.
But even conceding the point for the sake of argument, that’s neither here nor there — because the offending sentence points beyond the issue at hand. It’s not just that Francis’ widely reported remarks about not taking criticism from the Vatican too seriously, about not overemphasizing abortion, about the dangers of an excessively purist church provide more than enough evidence for such a “more inclusive posture.” Or that Catholic conservatives have been upset with Francis for exactly that reason.
It’s that Dolan himself is quoted specifically pointing to the pope’s inclusiveness.  Which makes Gibson’s characterization a journalistic statement, pure and simple.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service