Instead Of Calling Cardinal Dolan To Tell Him To Think About Compassion, Pope Francis Writes An OpEd

Enlightened by Nancy Ohanian

This week's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling to allow super-spreader events as long as they're part of religions, was characterized by the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state's Catholic bishops, as "an important one for religious liberty." Obviously not "pro-life" when it's a threat to the flow of loot from the Church's Sunday offering plates, Nick DiMarzio, the old pervert who heads the Brooklyn Diocese, worked with the primitive Hasidic cults to prevent a rational approach to public health in the midst of the pandemic. Far right sociopath Tim Dolan, a cardinal and the NY archbishop since 2009, is widely assumed to have been behind the effort. I wonder if Pope Francis has Dolan's and DiMarzio's phone numbers. Instead of calling his dogs off, he penned an OpEd for the NY Times, A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts, albeit right after it was too late to do anything about the deadly decision.

Pope Francis wrote that he's terribly sad about all the people dying from the pandemic. Worldwide that's rapidly closing in on a million and a half cases. There have been 61,599,146 confirmed cases across the world, a number generally considered an underestimate by many millions. Countries with lots of Catholics are included in the hardest-hit. Plenty of money to run Catholicism, Inc comes from

  • USA- 13,266,933 (39,9865 cases per million residents)

  • Brazil- 6,2096,404 (29,129 cases per million residents)

  • France- 2,183,660 (33,424 cases per million residents)

  • Spain- 1,637,844 (35,025 cases per million residents)

  • UK- 1,589,301 (23,361 cases per million residents)

  • Italy- 1,538,217 (25,456 cases per million residents)

  • Argentina- 1,399,431 (30,849 cases per million residents)

  • Colombia- 1,280,487 (25,057 cases per million residents)

  • Mexico- 1,078,594 (8,330 cases per million residents)

  • Germany- 1,013,582 (12,082 cases per million residents)

  • Poland- 958,416 (25,335 cases per million residents)

  • Peru- 956,347 (28,843 cases per million residents)

  • Belgium- 567,532 (48,882 cases per million residents)

But it was hope and compassion the Pope wrote about, not the millions of dollars in lost donations when people can't go to super-spreader events in churches every Sunday. "In lockdown," wrote Pope Francis, "I’ve often gone in prayer to those who sought all means to save the lives of others. So many of the nurses, doctors and caregivers paid that price of love, together with priests, and religious and ordinary people whose vocations were service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them. Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching. They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves, not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service."

Yet his church's decision to sue the state of New York, will result in countless more cases and deaths. Instead of writing an OpEd, when not call Dolan and DiMarzio and tell them to back off or he's excommunicate them?

Floor of Decency by Nancy Ohanian

"With some exceptions," he wrote, "governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak. Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions-- as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate. It is all too easy for some to take an idea-- in this case, for example, personal freedom-- and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything."

The coronavirus crisis may seem special because it affects most of humankind. But it is special only in how visible it is. There are a thousand other crises that are just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist. Think, for example, of the wars scattered across different parts of the world; of the production and trade in weapons; of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity; of climate change. These tragedies may seem distant from us, as part of the daily news that, sadly, fails to move us to change our agendas and priorities. But like the Covid-19 crisis, they affect the whole of humanity.
Look at us now: We put on face masks to protect ourselves and others from a virus we can’t see. But what about all those other unseen viruses we need to protect ourselves from? How will we deal with the hidden pandemics of this world, the pandemics of hunger and violence and climate change?
If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain. There’s a line in Friedrich Hölderlin’s “Hyperion” that speaks to me, about how the danger that threatens in a crisis is never total; there’s always a way out: “Where the danger is, also grows the saving power.” That’s the genius in the human story: There’s always a way to escape destruction. Where humankind has to act is precisely there, in the threat itself; that’s where the door opens.
This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities-- what we value, what we want, what we seek-- and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.
God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.
The pandemic has exposed the paradox that while we are more connected, we are also more divided. Feverish consumerism breaks the bonds of belonging. It causes us to focus on our self-preservation and makes us anxious. Our fears are exacerbated and exploited by a certain kind of populist politics that seeks power over society. It is hard to build a culture of encounter, in which we meet as people with a shared dignity, within a throwaway culture that regards the well-being of the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled and the unborn as peripheral to our own well-being.
To come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone. What ties us to one another is what we commonly call solidarity. Solidarity is more than acts of generosity, important as they are; it is the call to embrace the reality that we are bound by bonds of reciprocity. On this solid foundation we can build a better, different, human future.