Suffer me to begin with a suggestion: if you ever have the chance to hear the Rev. William Dailey of Notre Dame law school speak, jump on it. Dailey is a stunningly brilliant advocate, among the best I have ever encountered on any issue.
Dailey appeared on today's Up With Chris Hayes on MSNBC, where he masterfully made the case against the Obama administration's order forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that violate their moral principles. Predictably, the panel resorted to an ad hominem argument against him. Panelist Michaela Angela David implicitly, and Hayes himself explicitly, argued that celibate Catholic priests lack the moral authority to make arguments on the issues at hand. Dailey deftly turned the tables. Video after the jump.
Watch the fascinating exchange between Rev. Dailey and his liberal antagonists.
Note: at the end of the video clip, a panel member can be heard laughing off camera. I'll leave it to readers to decide whether she was laughing at Rev. Dailey.
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS: I was getting uncomfortable with often hearing "gravely immoral and injust" [a term Rev. Dailey had used to describe the Obama mandate] particularly around issues that women generally have to face, coming from men constantly that will never have to face this choice.
. . .
CHRIS HAYES: I want you to respond to one specific thing--two specific things. One is the argument that is made--and to me it's quite compelling--that it's a little hard, in a moral/secular conversation about a policy choice in civic society, to listen to the bishops, who are, by definition, a group of celibate men, right? There is a disconnect that I think is extremely difficult when we're having this debate for certain people who are listening to get over.
WILLIAM DAILEY: As to your first specific question, which I guess the heart of it is whether there's some kind of epistemic divide between the men who in the Church who proclaim this teaching, who are the bishops, who have the teaching office in the Church. I reject the notion that there's an epistemic divide, that the women panelists there can't talk to us and we can't talk to them, and use publicly available reasons, right? And yes, are these religious authorities? Sure. But President Obama was invoking religious authority at the prayer breakfast last week in favor of his largely liberal social agenda--the winning agenda as you would call it--and I haven't seen a hue and cry from most of the liberal side that the president shouldn't be invoking biblical principles, theological principles, principles that come from his faith, to support what are the correct means in society to achieve ends that we probably all agree are good for people: equality among men and women, equality among the races. So when the president invokes his own biblical and theological principles to do that, I say he's welcome to do so in the public square, and that's squarely within American tradition.