Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Baltimore lament

First, in the "I do believe there is life after surgery" category: This week I am starting to feel like a human being & not an experimental lab monkey. Not that the surgery was experimental, just that I've felt caged, fed, and benignly cut open (not in that order). Although lab monkeys usually don't get cut open until after the experimentation. That's what I learned on Veronica Mars this week.

Now, on to the outside world. George Weigel had an essay published in my diocesan newspaper today. He grew up in Baltimore at the same time as Nancy Pelosi, who grew up as Nancy D'Alesandro, daughter of the mayor, "Big Tommy" D'Alesandro & brother of "Young Tommy" D'Alesandro, mayor during the race riots of the 60's. He made this observation about politics, Democrats, and the Catholic Church:

"It was January 1966, and the City Council was considering an open housing bill -- a key plank in the platform of civil rights leaders. "Young Tommy" D'Alesandro, then president of the council, invited Cardinal Lawrence Shehan to testify at a public hearing on the proposed measure. The diminutive cardinal had barely gotten the first sentence out of his mouth when raucous jeers broke out, to the point where Young Tommy had the cops clear the room so the hearing could proceed.

"The Jeering of the Cardinal" was the big story for days thereafter -- a story from which some of us took an important lesson: the Catholic Church stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those deemed outside the boundaries of society's protection and concern.

It's hard to imagine Young Tommy not telling his sister about that episode, but Nancy Pelosi doesn't seem to have learned the meaning of those heady days for the 21st century - that the legislative bagttles to protect the right-to-life of the unborn, the elderly, and the handicapped, (not to mention the battle against treating human embryos as research material) are civil rights struggles in moral continuity with the civil rights struggles of the ' 60's.

The questions are the same: Who enjoys the protection of the laws? Who is inside the boundaries of the community's protection and concern? Who is safe, if some of us arrogate to ourselves the power to declare others of us outside those boundaries?

[Weigel then describes Pelosi's defense of abortion rights & her support for destructive embryonic stem cell research]

... Then there was the carefully choreographed Jan. 3 Mass at Washington's Trinity University, where Pelosi had attended college. At the speaker's invitation, the celebrant and homilist was Jesuit Father Robert Drinan -- the man who, more than anyone else, gave the moral green light for the Democratic Party to tarnish its modern civil rights record by embracing the abortion license; the man who, during his years in Congress, consistently defied the Church's settled conviction on the great civil rights issue of the day; the man who helped turn Senator Edward Kennedy from the potential champion of the pro-life cause into the dessicated, Wolsey-like specimen he is today. If Father Drinan is honorary chaplain to the Pelosi speakership, ten Nancy Pelosi has betrayed the great public lesson of the Baltimore Catechism in which we were both brought up.

I pray that my fellow-ex-Baltimorean changes her mind, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm also praying that my skepticism is misplaced."

AMEN. Maybe we should all start praying for Pelosi, Drinan, Kennedy, Biden, and the rest of the Catholic Democrats who sold their civil rights birthrights for a mess of political pottage. Part of it was the zeitgeist of the sexual revolution and the women's movement. But part of it no doubt was the hunger of second and third generation Catholic ethnics to shed their uncool allegiance to the Church and attain the respectability and power of the blue-blooded Puritan/Anglican/Episcopalians who dominated the corridors of American political power.

1 comment:

Cygnus said...

Agree with your (and Weigel's) comments.

I was privileged to have been confirmed by Cardinal Shehan not long before he died.

Nice to find your blog!