Sunday, February 12, 2012

As TV Stations Go to Cover Dolan's Elevation to Cardinal, Let's Hope They Ask the Right Questions

As Chief Mouthpiece for Archbishops Losing Hearts and Minds on Contraception Contratemps, He Has a Lot to Answer For

It's a big week ahead for New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who on Saturday is set to be elevated to cardinal. Local TV and radio stations are taking proper note and are devoting considerable resources and correspondents to covering the event, including live coverage at, yawn, starting at 4:30 a.m.
Obviously, this is a big deal. But let's hope that the stations don't jump the gun on deifing Dolan. No doubt, Dolan makes for good media. He's avuncular, more of the people than many higher-ups in the Roman Catholic Church and is often shown having a good laugh even at his own expense. However, make no mistake. There is Dolan the people's cardinal, and there is Dolan the extreme conservative who has lead the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the lead agitators against the Obama administration's rule requiring Catholic hospitals and universities to provide free insurance coverage for contraception.
It has been Dolan who has made this into a battle over religious liberty and a blatant infringement on First Amendment rights, when it is nothing of the sort. It is not a battle over insurance coverage, but over contraception itself. No one should be fooled by Dolan's somewhat conciliatory words today after he landed in Rome. As The New York Times reported,

Archbishop Dolan said in a brief interview that “there are so many unanswered questions” regarding the compromise, and that it was “too early for us to give a judgment one way or the other.”

At the same time, Dolan made it clear the compromise to limit the religious institutions' exposure to the coverage by having it provided directly by insurance companies was still too much to countenance.
In other words, little or nothing has changed about how the bishops and Dolan feel about this, regardless that most of their female parishioners--98 percent by one Guttmacher Institute--have used birth control.
The media covering Dolan's elevation should not be so awed by his red hat on Saturday to not confront him with these and other questions. A change in title does nothing to change that.

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