Catholic Action League 'Out-Catholics' Monks in Protesting Barney Frank's Interfaith Lecture

Friday, October 19, 2012

Because of Congressman Barney Frank, the Catholic Action League (CAL) of Massachusetts staged a protest yesterday outside Our Lady of Glastonbury Abbey, a monastery in Hingham run by the Roman Catholic order of Benedictines.
The CAL was expressing its displeasure with a lecture last night by Frank, who was leading off the 2012-13 series of annual interfaith lectures sponsored by the abbey, a free, public program that goes by the title, “Listening to Other Voices.” 
Frank’s topic for the night was, “Social Responsibility v. the Deficit: The Budget and the Common Good.”
In a press release, the CAL noted Frank’s longtime support of a woman’s right to abort a pregnancy and called the abbey’s invitation to Frank “another scandalous example of the culture of betrayal which afflicts Catholic institutions in America.”
It doesn’t seem that the protest had much effect.  According to an article today in the Patriot Ledger newspaper, Frank’s lecture “was so well attended that a number of people were turned away.”
The Patriot Ledger quoted Frank, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years who is retiring at the end of his current term, as saying, “If we were realistic about what we need to do to protect ourselves and those nations vulnerable to abuse, we could reduce military spending by 25 percent.” 
Presumably, Frank would support spending at least some of the billions sliced from the Pentagon on health and social welfare programs.
The CAL pointed out that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prohibits Catholic institutions from providing “awards, honors or platforms (emphasis added)” to those who “act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
Obviously, that dictum is subject to interpretations that can fairly be called flexible.  Otherwise how could Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York have invited President Obama, an abortion rights protector, to this week’s gigantic Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City, where some $5 million was raised for programs in New York that benefit the young, the poor, the handicapped, the chronically ill, the vulnerable elderly, and immigrants of all nationalities and faiths?
Cardinal Dolan was criticized by some prominent Catholics and Catholic organizations for inviting Obama to the event, but he shrugged it off pretty well.  Defending the invitation, he wrote, “In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.”
St. Benedict, considered by many historians to be among the founders of Western civilization, started his order of monks more than 1,500 years ago.  I don’t know when the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts was founded, but it is obviously a helpless infant compared to the wise old man of the Benedictines.

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