MSNBC's Jansing Touts Cardinal Dolan for Stance on Immigration, Slams Church for 'Going After Nuns'

The liberal media love the Catholic Church when it publicly makes pronouncements that tend to favor liberal Democratic priorities. Not so much when the Church seeks to guard its doctrine and discipline deviations from orthodoxy.

So it's no surprise that MSNBC's Chris Jansing touted Cardinal Timothy Dolan this morning for "taking aim at Republicans over immigration policy" only to turn around in the same interview and practically accuse the church of waging a war on nuns in the same interview.


"But the Republicans, you think, have gone too far on the immigration debate?" Jansing asked Dolan, who answered in no uncertain terms:

I would say of any Republican asked my opinion, I would say, you need to get your house together when it comes to immigration because, right now, fairly or not, you have the reputation of being very tough on immigrants. If a Republican answered me, I would say you'd better come up with a much saner, more civil, more just immigration policy...

With that out of the way, Jansing then turned to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops's objection to the ObamaCare contraception mandate for religious institutions. Jansing noted that Dolan had been "very outspoken against" the mandate, to which Dolan responded that it wasn't the "contraception per se" that was at issue but rather the administration's violation of religious liberty.

"Do you think Catholics will vote on birth control issue, for example, will they vote on the war on women?" Jansing interjected. For his part, Dolan reminded Jansing that "it would be tough to think of an organization in the world that is more on the side of women's health, and care for women and children, then the Catholic Church."

But alas, Jansing sought to cast the Church as part of the axis of evil waging war on women, citing the Vatican's recent rebuke of American nuns who have deviated from orthodox doctrine:

The Vatican said the nuns pushed quote, "radical feminist themes." A lot of the reaction that I've heard has been, "Going after nuns, really?" Cardinal Dolan, going after nuns, really, in this very public way?

Dolan responded in a gentle way that contained arguably a veiled rebuke of the liberal media, but his response was met by further contempt by Jansing, who cited that eminent Catholic scholar Maureen Dowd.

DOLAN: Yeah, but this is an issue that's easily caricatured and that we can be guilty of superficiality. I don't know if I'd use the word "reprimand," I find the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith saying, sisters we relish our dialogue. And, by the way, that document goes to great pains to praise the brilliant work of sisters.

JANSING: But they put oversight on the nuns, and, and, it's been widely written about, including Maureen Dowd, whose interpretation after reading the document was that the message to nuns was, shut up and sit down.

Of course Dowd is a harsh critic of the Catholic Church -- she compared the Vatican to totalitarian regimes -- and of Dolan personally, whom she has viciously attacked for his faithfulness to Church teaching on homosexuality as my colleague Tim Graham noted in June 2011:

Archbishop Dolan’s job is to evangelize the public with the Word of God, not the Word of Dowd. Dowd thinks the church should overcome the injustice of childhood sex abuse by becoming indistinguishable from the editorial board of The New York Times.

Dowd also brought in divorced Governor Andrew Cuomo’s shacking up with Food Network host Sandra Lee, using not the words of Dolan, but of canon lawyer Ed Peters. Dowd thinks the Catholic Church is stuffed with hypocrisy for not offering the sacrament of marriage to two men or two women:

And therein lies the casuistry. On one hand, as Peters told The Times about Cuomo and Lee, “men and women are not supposed to live together without benefit of matrimony.” But then the church denies the benefit of marriage to same-sex couples living together.

Dolan insists that marriage between a man and a woman is “hard-wired” by God and nature. But the church refuses to acknowledge that homosexuality may be hard-wired by God and nature as well, and is not a lifestyle choice.

Dolan and other church leaders are worried about the exodus of young Catholics who no longer relate to the intolerances of church teaching. He dryly told The Times last year that when he sees long lines of young people on Fifth Avenue waiting to get into a house of worship, it’s at Abercrombie & Fitch, not St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The church refuses to acknowledge the hypocrisy at its heart: that it became a haven for gay priests even though it declares homosexual sex a sin, and even though it lobbies to stop gays from marrying.

This is a little dishonest. If the church proclaimed that it was throwing out every priest it thought was gay, Maureen Dowd would be out with two sandwich boards protesting that as an injustice. Dowd should just go ahead and announce what she’s thinking: Dolan doesn’t speak for God. Or...God is a fuddy-duddy who needs to get with What’s Happening Now.

For his part, Dolan, ever-gracious and pastoral, refused to return evil for evil by attacking Dowd. Instead Dolan pointed out that the issues in play are doctrinal and pastoral, not political, and that there were faithful orthodox nuns who voiced complaints to the Vatican about deviations from orthodoxy by feminist nuns (emphasis mine):

...[T]he very nature of the document is to say, "Sisters, talk to us, can you help us understand this? Can you help us clarify things?" Keep in mind too, Chris, that some of the people that were worried about some of the stances of the LCW are, were, women religious, who have been writing to the Vatican saying, "We're a little worried about the drift of this organization."

So are we going to tell them to sit down and shut up? No, I think the Holy See is saying, we're trying our best to listen, sisters, we love you, we thank you, we appreciate what you're doing, we cherish our dialogue, we want it to keep going, can we bring your attention to some things we're worried about?

Jansing wasn't satisfied with that response and attempted to play the priest sex abuse scandals as a trump card:

Do you understand why maybe the nuns could feel that way, though, Your Eminence, because, I certainly know in talking to priests that they feel tainted by the pedophile scandal and they say the vast majority of us faithful to our vows, et cetera, so, does, do you understand how this could feel like a smackdown of nuns?!

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Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters