Maureen Dowd on Archbishop Dolan & My Dad: “Vintage Deja Vu Dowd”

Yesterday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd went after Archbishop Dolan’s efforts to protect marriage in New York — and also snuck in a drive-by sniping of my father’s recent comments about (Catholic) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s manifest concubinage, just for good measure.

Governor Cuomo is for gay marriage, so you can guess who Dowd is writing to protect and abet in her column (entitled “Gay Sera, Sera“). My father has responded to Ms. Dowd’s feeble attempts to warp his argument here.

Now why do I title my post “Vintage Deja Vu Dowd”? Because Maureen Dowd has only one argument against the Catholic Church, or any Catholic figure who speaks in the public square. And every time it’s the same. It goes like this: “Pedophile!”

Time and time again, Dowd’s disagreement with (and mocking of) the Church’s teaching on sexual morality has no argument except to bring up the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Take, for instance:

Dolan snidely dismissed the notion that gay marriage is a civil right. “We acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a ‘right,’ ” he wrote.

“And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?”

And how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest?

That last line, of course, is Dowd’s. Never mind the fact that that the Church unequivocally condemns the abuse of minors. Never mind the fact that even the most heinous sinner could still speak the truth (and Archbishop Dolan is by no means such a person). Never mind the fact that even I could (and by reason ought to) acknowledge that Dowd is right about some things even though sometimes she has been wrong about other things (I’m offering the possibility purely as a speculation).

But for Dowd, because the Church abuse scandal happened, nothing the Church teaches or any (faithful) Catholic says could ever be right. But this way of debating the Church and Church teaching is clearly wrong.

By Dowd’s own logic and style of argumentation, after all, if she once received a DUI, I could and would never have to listen to a single point she ever made about transportation. By the same (absurd) logic, if she ever burnt a batch of cookies, I would never have to acknowledge her opinions on baking, home management, or thermodynamics.

These comparisons may seem absurd, but so is Dowd’s style of writing. In fact, it seems to be her only method of argumentation. Combing her latest column, you will find no substantive argument for why the state of New York ought to redefine the definition of marriage. You’ll simply find a lot of mean barbs aimed at Archbishop Dolan and Catholic teaching (and my dad, see here). Ad hominem attacks, for Dowd, are more a rule than a careless exception.

One line of Dowd’s got me in particular:

“Dolan and other church leaders are worried about the exodus of young Catholics who no longer relate to the intolerances of church teaching.”

Ms. Dowd, I’m right here. And frankly, your intolerances to church teaching and towards church teachers is something I don’t relate to (seriously, calling Archbishop Dolan “Starchbishop?” – even I know that’s immature).

But again, if I were to bring this up to Ms. Dowd, because I’m a Catholic who firmly believes in the teachings of the Church, I’m sure she’d fall back on her classic argument for people like me: “Pedophile!”

Nonetheless, because I’m getting into the habit of issuing challenges to people who never take them up, I’ll challenge Ms. Dowd to argue the merits of gay marriage against the teachings of the Church without taking recourse to her favorite “Pedophile!!” argument. In fact, I’ll challenge Ms. Dowd to debate the Church on any issue without bringing up the clergy sexual abuse scandal. I don’t think she can.

In the meantime, I’ll pledge to declare I don’t have to believe that what Ms. Dowd publishes is her own original writing because Wikipedia tells me she may have plagiarized in one of her columns once. For that reason, I have the “right” to refuse to acknowledge that Dowd is the author of any future column she rights, to treat her according to the same unfair and disingenuous standard she chooses to constantly apply to the Church.

I just turned twenty-six, so whenever Ms. Dowd wants to debate according to reasonable standards –and not ones of her own convenience and contriving– I’ll be ready, and eager. Que sera, deja vu.



  • TJM

    The Republican Party Platform does not support a single intrinsic evil, but the Democratic Party’s Platform does, e.g. Abortion. There is no moral equivelance. Nice try.

    • PaxDominus

      I double-checked the party platform for the GOP and you are correct in that nothing in that platform is intrinsically evil. However, widespread support for “enhanced interrogation techniques” among GOP officials in certain situations, including waterboarding, which are forms of torture, including almost all of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates, is especially problematic, and torture is an intrinsic moral evil. I thought support for these techniques was in the GOP platform, but it isn’t.
      There’s also a line in the 2008 GOP Platform that looks problematic.

      “The waging of war – and the achieving of peace – should never be micromanaged in a party platform, or on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives for that matter. In dealing with present conflicts and future crises, our next president must preserve all options. It would be presumptuous to specify them in advance and foolhardy to rule out any action deemed necessary for our security.”

      This can be read as ruling out guidelines for warfare like the Just War Theory.

      You are right, however, that the Democratic Party platform does endorse some intrinsic moral evils, most especially abortion, and that is extremely and gravely problematic. I will never vote for a candidate that is not pro-life and/or a candidate that supports same-sex marriage or civil unions. That’s my minimum threshold.

      • TJM

        Sounds like you’re desperate to find something on the Republican platform that is contrary to the Faith. But you can’t, because there’s “no there, there.” There is no moral equivalence. If Pius XI were alive today he would formally condemn the Democratic Party like he did the Nazis and Fascists.

        • PaxDominus

          The Democratic Party’s embrace of secular humanism in its platform is terrible. What was once the party of working-class Catholics has become the party of rich secularists and the academic elite. There are still a few good Democrats out there in the U.S. House and in some state legislatures, but they’ve largely vanished.
          However, the Republican Party is largely the party of big business and Nationalist Protestantism, and while Democratic economics is government-centric, Republican economics, which takes a lot from Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek, is centered around the individual, and I can’t possibly see how you can reconcile Republican or Democratic economic policy with Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus, or Caritas in Veritate. What’s needed in this country is a thoroughly Catholic political party which takes its inspiration from Catholic social teachings and thinkers like Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton. I think the Republican Party is the lesser of two evils for now, and those are the candidates I’ve been voting for, but that doesn’t mean I like doing it.

  • JEB

    “Time and time again, Dowd’s disagreement with (and mocking of) the Church’s teaching on sexual morality has no argument except to bring up the clergy sexual abuse scandal.” How true! Dowd’s argument is in fact the standard argument.

    See how Father Michael Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas, handles this argument as he addresses the city council about not giving city employee benefits to same sex couples. This priest is magnificient!


    Dear Thomas ~ I agree that Ms. Dowd’s last column was supercilious and lacking in logic. However I don’t believe you understand, on an emotional level, the hurt and anger that she and many Catholics feel about abuses which have taken place. Yes, the Church, at every level condemns them, but it just keeps on happening again, and again, and again. Kansas City is the most recent, but do you really believe there isn’t another one right around the corner? As a priest friend of mine said in a memorable homily a few years back, “the bad priests who molested the children were horrible, but the bad bishops who enabled them were worse.” Conservative Catholics who try to minimize the bishops complicity, or just plain “management failures” do our beloved Church no favors. ~ Pax tucem ~ Greg

    • TJM

      Dowd is an apostate. She doesn’t care one whit about the Catholic Church since it’s unfashionable to be a believer.

    • Francis

      Greg: I could not agree more. The failure of the bishops in this area has really undermined the trust and confidence that the laity used to have in them. The molesters themselves have an excuse – they are sick, sick people. For the bishops, there is no such excuse.

  • Angelite49

    One more, second to last paragraph:

    “that Dowd is the author of any future column she rights’

  • Patrick

    Thank you for correcting the error.

  • Pilgrim


    Thank you for this excellently biting and witty post. I have been fuming over Ms. Dowd’s words for the past three days (And some of my “Catholic” friends championing her as a voice of morality in the Church).

    I wrote my own lengthy response to her bigoted ramblings, but I can’t compete with how you thoroughly discredit every single drop of vitriol that pours from her mouth.

    Thank you for being a constant voice in defense of the Church and proof that young adults like us are not “driven away by the intolerances of church teaching”, but drawn towards the Truth of God manifest in the Holy Church.

    Thank you!

    • Whitney

      She needs to be excommunicated along with every other self-professed “Catholic” democrat. Every time these anti-life, anti-marriage heathens claim to speak with the authority of the Church, or even claim membership, it wounds the Church and all of us. The Vatican cannot spend all of its time disavowing these rogue Catholycs for each individual statement. Time to cut them loose altogether in a very public fashion. The public perception of Catholicism right now is that anyone can join and have their own opinion on issues like life and marriage. This needs to END. There is no opinion in the Catholic Church, only God’s word – and democrats contradict God’s word every time they open their mouths.

      • PaxDominus

        Whitney, there are some Catholics who are Democrats that remain faithful to the Church’s teachings, not all of them are heretics. There are also heretical Catholics who are Republicans.
        Some of the Church’s teachings make the left uncomfortable, and some make the right uncomfortable.
        Regardless of your political affiliation or persuasion, you are going to be persecuted as a Catholic no matter what. Your Catholicism needs to come before your politics, that’s what the Church teaches and Archbishop Chaput makes that very clear in “Render Unto Caesar”. Don’t seek to be liberal, don’t seek to be conservative, don’t seek to be anything except a saint, to be faithful to the entirety of the Magisterial teaching of Holy Mother Church, and do so with love, compassion, obedience, humility, mercy and joy. We take our marching orders from Christ and the Church, not from Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Reince Priebus, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Rachel Maddow, Al Franken, or anyone else. There are parts of the GOP platform that contradict Catholic teaching and parts of the Democratic platform that contradict Catholic teaching. Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and same-sex marriage are certainly paramount to other considerations when voting, and rightfully so, but we need to recognize when we vote we are almost always voting for the lesser of two evils, and we need to be willing to call out our elected officials when they stray from Catholic social teachings, no matter what their political affiliation may be, especially when the officials are Catholic.



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