When it comes to mixing politics and religion, New York's most prominent Catholic leader says it's a must.
“A public square where religious values are absent is perilous,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York told "WSJ at Large" host Gerry Baker on FOX Business on Friday.
As we move closer to the 2020 presidential election, political and religious controversies dominate headlines. From gay marriage, abortion and contraception, to divorce and the sanctity of marriage, many in the U.S. find the Church’s position irrelevant or harmful and offensive. But Cardinal Dolan believes that those negative perspectives are "caricatures of the Church” which need to be replaced by a more affirmative view. .
“We have to bring, in a very credible way, our religious convictions to the public square," Dolan said. "That’s a Catholic value, it’s also a very American value.”
This becoming ever more prevalent as political discourse takes on more theological overtones. Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, an openly-married gay man, who was baptized Catholic but is now an Episcopalian, frequently references faith in his campaign and criticized Vice President Mike Pence's cultural and religious conservatism a “fanatical” ideology.
It is no surprise that there is very little consensus on how religion should be integrated with politics. A new survey suggests Americans are rejecting religion in their own lives at a record pace. For the first time ever, "No Religion” hit the top of the annual General Social Survey of America’s religious identity, beating out Catholics and evangelicals.
“People love to believe, but they’re a bit hesitant to belong,” Cardinal Dolan said.
“The Church is often looked upon as one big nay-sayer,” he added. “But the Church is not about a 'no,' it is about a ‘yes’ to everything that is noble and life-giving.”
Cardinal Dolan noted that, “if we do analysis of people leaving the Catholic Church… they don’t leave to join a more liberal church, more often than not, they leave to join a more conservative church.” He cited a “hunger” for spirituality among Americans that needs to be tended, whether or not it means being associated with a particular traditional religion.
When asked if people are distancing themselves from the Church because of the many sex abuse scandals, and if Catholic authorities are doing enough to remedy this complex issue, Dolan said, “When you come to a recognition and a humble contrite admission of what the Church has done in the past, it can only cause you shame, frustration and anger,” calling the acts “nauseating”. “We have to be extraordinarily realistic and honest.”
Dolan also said it is a shame that the “great reform and progress that the church has made doesn’t seem to be recognized…but as great as reforms are, we’ve got to do more, and Pope Francis knows that and I appreciate his leadership.”
The Cardinal said most importantly, this Holy Week serves as a reminder for Catholics of the importance of faith and the hope for Easter.