The following blog by Brad Miner was posted June 19 on The Catholic Thing website.

Timothy Michael Dolan has been described as “America’s pope,” and that seems fine, at least until an American actually becomes the successor to St. Peter. Cardinal Dolan is certainly among the most pastoral bishops the American Church has ever known, and for a man as good-natured as he, 2012 must be an annus horribilis, given the extent to which leadership of opposition to the Health and Human Services Department’s contraceptive mandates has fallen upon him as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

No doubt you’ve heard him speak about the reasons for the Church’s dissent. He has been especially good at emphasizing that the battle is more about religious liberty than about any purely doctrinal matter – a hard thing to do in thirty-second sound bites or even in six-minute interviews, which is why Cardinal Dolan has written True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty, a 99¢ e-book of just over 5000 words that will be available for download beginning tomorrow.

The title and subtitle come in part from Leo XIII’s Libertas, an 1888 encyclical in which the pope describes true freedom as that which protects human dignity; as “stronger than any violence or injustice” that would oppose it. And this must be on the minds of all American Catholic bishops as they contemplate how to approach civil government’s increasingly militant embrace of the culture of death.

Thus the remarkable recent statement by the USCCB, one sentence of which seems a clarion to civil disobedience:

If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them.

How many bishops may end up in jail for refusing to comply with one or another anti-Christian law is a matter for conjecture at this point (we face an election that may render the issue moot – for a while), but what’s clear is that we’re witnessing a sea change in episcopal accommodation with secular authority – long overdue in a polity that tolerates the killing of its most vulnerable citizens and encourages the abandonment of its most cherished institutions. Our bishops really do have backbones.

It’s well known (or should be) that Cardinal Dolan’s academic specialty is Church history, specifically the history of Catholics in America, but in True Freedom he emphasizes the broader American story, finding in the current battle to keep faith in the public square echoes of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr.

When he criticizes “modern political and legal theory [for holding] that only neutral, utilitarian principles can provide a basis for public policy,” he’s not just echoing Catholics such as Richard John Neuhaus but also those leaders of the Civil Rights Movement – and those whom the leaders cited, such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, all of whom based so much of their public writings and speeches on an understanding of natural law. They risked their lives – some lost their lives – defending the proposition that our most basic rights come not from men, whether noble or base, but from God.

That’s what makes our rights inalienable: “They cannot be taken away,” Cardinal Dolan writes, “by any state, power, law, or choice of individuals.”

I mentioned Leo XIII above, but the pope to whom Cardinal Dolan most often refers is John Paul II, especially in citations of Evangelium Vitae (1995), in which the pope calls for “a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life.” The word mobilization is becoming ever more essential.

We must, Cardinal Dolan insists, “move the culture,” and he understands that doing so is a lot like turning an ocean liner: “a gradual, incremental process.” But what is the Christian mission, if not that? It’s a process, he writes, that necessitates reevaluations of pragmatism, utilitarianism, and consumerism: the “passionate drives for having and doing.”

In contrast, think of those hundreds of thousands of Poles who heard John Paul II speak on his return to his homeland, and who kept interrupting him with shouts of “Give us God! Give us God!” An officially atheist culture was again becoming a culture of believing. And think of what that meant to the unbelieving communist government of Poland.

As Cardinal Dolan writes:

Such a culture of death can only thrive. . .in a world in which God has been excluded, and in which everyone can evade the responsibility of solidarity by claiming to define his or her own morality. Personal freedom – the ability to do what I want, when I want, because I want to do it – is seen as the only absolute value.

Our task in America is the encounter not just with a hostile regime but also slothful secularism and ill-informed Catholics. Cardinal Dolan doesn’t cite the passage, but reading his fine essay, I was reminded of Paul’s warning to the early Church (2 Timothy 4:3-4):

 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.

The cardinal, it must be noted, ends True Freedom in a much more upbeat way. Here clearly is a man who never loses sight of Christ’s promise to Peter (Matthew 16:18): that, having founded His Church, “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

To read entire posting Click here.



Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 4:10 AM By Bonnie de Rutte
We love Cardinal Dolan and all he stands for. Too bad the bishops waited so long to ever teach about the Church.s stand on contraception,abortion etc Have you ever heard a homily on any of these controversial subjects?I haven,t and I,m eighty years old and regularly attend Mass. Our catechisis for the last few decades has been woefully lacking. BdR

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 6:06 AM By St. Christopher
Ah, Cardinal Dolan — one hopes that you never become Pope. He is correct, of course, that America is hostile to moral truth; but blind to the fact that many, many bishops in America also fail to embrace the Faith. He is also wrong that the true issue with the Catholic Church and its standing in the American society is based on “religious freedom”. The true issue was readily identified by President Obama — most Americans do not believe in, or follow, almost all of the “teachings” of the Church on contraception, divorce, homosexual relationships (and sex), sex before marriage, and likely, a woman’s ultimate right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Why is this, compared, say, to the Catholic Church in the 1950’s? Surely the answer is the almost complete absence of any moral teaching and direction by the Church (No, dear reader, saying “be nice to everyone” is not enough to learn at catechism). Christianity is vigorous and demanding, and the Catholic Mass inspiring and challenging, not the simpering, often silly, social hour that now passes for its weekly observation. Cardinal Dolan forgets that few American clergy spoke out against the use of contraception by tying that practice to “mortal sin” (? Is anything a mortal sin now, except impoliteness to those practicing sexual depravity?). C. Dolan needs to demand obedience to the Pope and to Catholic tradition before he is ready to man the barricades in defense of beliefs that few can articulate, much less go to jail over.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 6:39 AM By Prof.Helen
“The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Thank you Cardinal.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 7:25 AM By Jerry H
Years ago, in the 1950’s, when the Hollywood moguls decided to produce movies with anti-Catholic or explicit sexual or deviant themes, the Catholic bishops promoted the “Legion of Decency” and pew going Catholics recited a pledge to reject the trash. As the 1960’s brought a wave of leftist attitude to priests, a culture of death seeped through the Church and the greater Catholic community. In order for Abp Dolan to make real change, he will need to address those who produce the hateful mindset in movies, media, schools and even within the hierarchy.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 8:19 AM By MD
Thank you for this article. This is our time to pray and fast not only for our bishops, but for our Church here in the U.S. I really like the analogy of turning the tides of our culture likened to turning an ocean liner. Part of our problem in this modern era is our desire for and expectation of immediate gratification. It is in our desire for this immediate gratification that we maintain a culture of death. This is apparent in our consumerism, our need to get what we want when we want it. We live in a culture that thinks about “what is best for me” not what is best for society. I know this is a broad generalization of which I cannot go into great detail here, I agree that the mess we have created will take time to correct and will not occur over night. Our bishops are finally waking up to the need we have to be voices of live in this culture of death and I believe we can turn things around if we are patient, diligent in our prayer and work in unity with our good bishops to affect change in America. God Love You.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 9:02 AM By Peggy
If there is to be an American pope, I hope it is Card. Burke or Chaput. But, I am happy with what Ab. Dolan is doing for religious freedom.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 10:37 AM By k
The link does not work.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 10:40 AM By Don Guillermo
Mr. Miner’s post is brilliant. I agree that our bishops need to do more by encouraging priests to address the controversial teachings of the Church in their homilies, but I am heartened that the bishops are showing some “backbone” and suspect that they must be privately acknowledging the failure of their accomodationist policy toward Caesar all these years.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 10:47 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Too little, too late! Of course it is never too late with God, but the bishops will have to stop playing NICE with the Demoncrats and Republicrats to make any difference. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 10:48 AM By Abeca Christian
It will take men of God to lead the faithful, real men who do right by God. I pray that God encourages them and gives them the grace to lead well in His honor!

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:03 AM By sam
Personally I find it offensive to refer to anyone as the “american pope” or the “whatever national pope”. There is only one true Pope – Vicar of Christ in the Catholic faith and he is the Bishop of Rome and not anyone else. It goes against everything that we believe as Catholics when the white smoke arises w/the announcement “Habemus Papam” (We have a Pope) and billions around the world cheer w/joy and thanksgiving. Cardinal Dolan has been “nicknamed erroneously” as the American Pope by John Allen of National Catholic Reporter a most liberal news organization.Mr. Allen himself is a liberal who is not very complementary to the Actual Pope of the Catholic Church.He has written an derogatory unauthorized biography of Pope Benedict XVI just prior to his Papacy in which he referred to PBXVI as the “German Rotttweiler” and other mean spirited things. If John Allen an diehard liberal is pleased to call Card Dolan ‘American Pope’ it is because he wishes to do harm to the unity of the Church which rests solely in every Catholic, especially Bishops, precisely being Catholic by allegiance to the One Vicar of Christ on Earth, i.e, presently Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Dolan himself needs to correct this error by clearly stating there is only one Pope for all Catholics worldwide and he sits on the throne of Peter in Rome.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:07 AM By goodcause
Cheers for Cardinal Dolan and his courage to stand up for the Church’s freedom to operate itself in accordance with its core values. Even if so many Catholics disagree with the Church on the issue of contraception, no one can argue that the Chruch should be required to submit its teachings and internal administration to the state. Just as many Catholics believe disobedience to Church teachings on contraception is moral and just, so, too, should civil disobedinece to the state’s attempt to usurp Church authority over its own institutions be moral, just, and spiritually valid. Both actions emanate from the same appeal to the primacy of conscience and right action. Thomas More got his head chopped off for aruging this very point.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:20 AM By pete
Better late than never, BUT, O.L. of America came with a prophetic message about the USA in 1958, which Cardinal Burke has recently declared was approved by the Archbishop of Cincinnatti at the time, that promised the then newly dedicated Basilica of the Immaculate Conception would become like Lourdes IN TURNING OUR PEOPLE BACK TO GOD AND VIRTUE IF THE BISHOPS ALL TOGETHER WOULD SOLEMNLY,AND PUBLICKLY INSTALL HER IMAGE IN THE LAST EMPTY NICHE IN THE CHURCH. She was IGNORED by the hierarchy for 50yrs and STILL IS, even though they gathered hierarchy heard anew of the revelation AGAIN in 2007 in closed session at their November meeting. This was JUST THE TIME THAT OBAMA BEGAN HIS METEORIC RISE TO THE PRESIDENCY. There are STILL NO PLANS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS REQUEST. The Fortnight is the HIERARCHY’S plan and it will prove ineffective. HEAVEN ALREADY GAVE THE SOLUTION AND LIKE FATIMA IT IS BEING IGNORED BY THE ONLY ONES WHO HAVE THE RESPONSABILITY TO SAVE OUR COUNTRY BY IT. Are our Bishops ONCE AGAIN MISSING THEIR TIME OF VISITATION? BTW, O. L. of America, said that she were not heeded, THERE WOULD BE MUCH PAIN. (same with Fatima, which Sr. Lucia said that if her request was not done as SHE stated, NATIONS WOULD BE DESTROYED, etc. We are seeing the SAME CONDITION OF JUDAH BEFORE THE BABYLONIAN CONQUEST AND EXILE in our country and in the world itself. When will the Bishops connect the dots. This fight is against principalities and powers. ONLY GOD’S SOLUTION FOR VICTORY WILL WORK! The only alternative is a MASSIVE ROSARY CRUSADE BY MILLIONS OF PRACTICING CATHOLICS such as spared Brazil a communist take over in 1960.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:34 AM By Joseph Sprowls
I see Miner’s comments as a prognostication for the Catholic future and agree with him that Cardinal Dolan’s leadership is strength and backbone for Catholicism throughout America. This is a battle cry for Freedom, all freedom not just religious freedom. This “war” against Catholic teaching might be better thought of in terms of a “mandate” against Freedom of the Press. The Government “mandates” that all print media show a picture of President Obama on the front page. I wonder what the New York Times thinks about that analogy?

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:46 AM By Abeca Christian
Why does God allow us to be so high in love with Him and sometimes allows us to feel so down too, so loveless? Without the loveless moments, who would ever know of His highness and greatness.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 11:57 AM By Abeca Christian
Heaven is not impossible to reach but hell is right there for those who choose it, it is easier to get to hell but not impossible to reach heaven, just Trust in the Lord and choose Christ, no matter what the cost is. We need our shepherds to lead.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 12:06 PM By Anne T.
Jerry H and MD., you make some very good points in your posts today at 7:25 AM. and 8:19 AM. After watching a beautiful movie on EWTN about St. Ethelreda, whose feastday is tomorrow, I realize why King Henry the VIII destroyed her church with her relics. She represented purity, and he could not stand for it. I became aware that even I, too, have fallen into that “immediate gratification mode” that so many of us Americans have. I make use of fast food places much too often because I cannot wait til I get home from shopping, helping to take my grandchildren places and so forth. I decided today to eat two small sardines and a half of cup of peach-mango yorgurt for breakfast instead of my usual larger breakfast. With God’s grace I will continue thru the day with eating less, so I get out of that instant gratification mode. It is much healthier for us — spiritually and physically.– to fast during the week in some manner, but we should do it in a healthy way so we can perform our dutites well.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 12:13 PM By Anne T.
In additiona, A Blessed Feastday of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More to all of you. May they pray for England and the Americas, and Canada, too.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 12:35 PM By jeanie
will someone please tell me why contraception is wrong? I can understand why abortion is wrong but why can’t I use my brains and decide that I do not want a family of eight, nine, ten children which seems to be what I’m headed for if I don’t start finding some way to avoid it. Well, I know THAT way but it just doesn’t seem like the right way to me.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:11 PM By max
why is that cardinal dolan always lookks so goofily happy, whereas cardinal levada always looks so darned ang4ry and grouchy? there must be a happy middle somewhere…i can never imagine cardinal levada putting on a cheesehead thingies, or a big rubber hand with a “we’re #1” slogan, or anthing so silly. on the other hand, it’s nice to see a cardinal who actually SMILES (cardinal dolan) and laughs.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:33 PM By max
WHY IS CONTRACEPTION WRONG? (catechism of the catholic church) 2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil: Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:34 PM By k
jeanie, using artificial contraception is a grave sin. The sex act must stay open to the possiblity of conception. It is not wrong to try to time your marital relations with your cycle to lesson the chance of pregnancy. Birth control methods harm the marriage and the woman. God gives people the gift of chastity. In marriage, it is in treating the spouse and their body with the respect one gives to someone made in the image of God. To treat one’s life partner as a object for selfish pleasure damages the relationship severely. Birth control confuses people into forgetting why the marital act exists. Also,when you use artificial birth control you are in essence playing God and making a decision that only God should make. When you prevent children from being born, you rob yourself, your spouse, your children and other family members of some of the love that God intended to put into the world for them. Really, pray to God and trust him. I know women who had 4 kids quickly and then never got pregnant again. No one knows the future. Do not commit this sin.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:34 PM By k
Thanks for fixing the link.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:35 PM By max
WHY IS CONTRACEPTION WRONG? in other words, love making shoudl olnly happen between husband and wigfe and should always be open to both love and life. having sex without love is bad, having sex without (being open to) life is bad. the church sees love making as something that should never separzte the two.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:45 PM By JLS
jeanie, contraception is a mortal sin. The objective is to wrest creation from the Hand of God and steal it for yourself. The first commandment given mankind was to go forth and make babies and raise them in families to populate the world. God created you and you did not create God: You have the same choice Eve had, which is to say either yes or no to God. Contraception is the answer, “no”, that people give to God … even after He gave them life. Contraception in one’s heart is a false deed to owning someone else, namely a baby, and also God. Do you believe you own the baby that has, is or might be living in your womb? Calvinism claims that each of us is owned at conception by our pre-determined destiny. God tells us we each have to create ourself in union with Him. Jesus is the Bridgegroom and His followers are His bride: So, are you going to tell Jesus that you do not want to be burdened with the greatest gift that God has for you, a child? Does God treat you like a piece of disposable material? The sodomites believe this, but faith believes God instead. Blessed Mother Teresa said that she could see God in the eyes of any child. Jesus says, “what you do to the least of my people, you do to Me” … Why would you want to prevent God from creating a child?

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 1:52 PM By MD
Jeanie-First, I would like to thank you for the humility you showed by asking why the Church is opposed to contraception. I think it is commendable of you to ask with an open mind and I appreciate your honesty and humility. Please refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church beginning in 2370 and Catholic Answers with key word search contraception. I will give you two key reasons why the Church is opposed to contraception. First is that some (a good majority of) contraceptives work as abortification drugs in that the egg is fertilized but is discarded. Another compelling reason is that the sexual act between a man and woman has to have 2 components that are inseparable from one another: the sexual act is both a unitive and procreative act. This does NOT mean you have to conceive every time you and your husband have intercourse, but it allows God to be the author of life with your willing participation in this tremendous gift of sexuality. I would recommend that you further investigate this as there are many great recourses available. Read Sex Au Naturel by Patrick Coffin the host of Catholic Answers Live. Apart from birth control being extremely dangerous for women, couples who contracept have a much higher divorce rate than couples who chose not to. I will keep you in my prayers. God Love You.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 3:10 PM By Abeca Christian
jeanie I am happy that you are souls searching and asking. Try going on Catholic answers website, they can help answer those with more detail.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 3:30 PM By Anne T.
Jeanie, the estrogen in the birthcontrol pill, for one thing, can contribute to breast cancer and other cancers, besides blood clots and many other medical problems for women. Also, the Pill acts as an abortiafacient, in other words it can abort an embyio if a woman does become pregnant. Another problem with the birthcontrol pill is that they cannot get the estrogen out of our sewage systems from women’s urination who take the Pill. It then goes into some of our waterways and deforms fish and other water life. Many fish have been found that are ambiguous sexually because of the estrogen in the water. The estrogen from the making of plastics can do this to the fish also, but many times there are no plastics making factories in areas where deformed fish have been found. Colorado and some other states have real problems with this. You can find this all on line under “Deformed Fish from the Birthcontrol Pill” or Deformed Fish from Estrogen in the Water Ways”. Many of these sites are not even Catholic but just scientific sites. If it is doing that to fish, what is it doing to our human progeny and the women who take it? Abortion also contributes to breast and other cancers as it fools the body into thinking it is pregnant, the breast area changes accordingly, and then the body has to readjust in an unnatural manner every month it is taken. The Couple to Couple League has an online website, and they teach a natural family planning method that is very effective with modern techniques. I advise you, if you are married and you and your husband want to space your children for good reasons, to look into it.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 3:34 PM By Tracy
jeanie, I understand your lack of understanding of the evils of contraception. While, I have always staunchly accepted the Catholic church’s stance on this issue as being the right one, I still always felt ambivalent about it and unable to explain why it was evil to anyone else let alone to myself. I believe this was in large part due to my lack of catechesis on the subject, a complete silence about it from much of the clergy, who have not been equipped to talk about it and/or an outright support for it among some of the clergy, not to mention, the average Catholic in the pew. (By the way, I am including sterilization here as well) A couple of years ago, I started praying to our Lord to enlighten my mind and my heart in regards to this issue. As my heart softened I started seeking out resources to find answers. May I suggest to you that you too first go humbly to our Lord asking him to enlighten your mind. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Then may I suggest to you a priest run organization which addresses this issue called “NFP Outreach”. Another excellent resource is “One More Soul”. Both are on line.(There are many more, but this is a good start.) The reality is that contraception is the root cause of many of our societal, spiritual, psychological and physical problems which we are experiencing today. Some food for thought: those Catholic couples who have rejected contraception/sterilization have about a 2% divorce rate compared to the over 50% divorce rate for contracepting ones. And before the early 1900’s all Christian denominations denounced the practice as being evil. Jeanie, I will pray for you that you find the answers you are seeking.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 3:39 PM By Anne T.
Another good website that explains about the dangers of contraceptives is “The American Life League”. You can just put that title in your search bar and come of with Judy Brown’s site.

Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 4:45 PM By Jo Grady
Whatever happened to sin? No one has mentioned it in years!