Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Apparently, I’m not the only one getting an earful about the Met Gala where Hollywood stars showed up in outrageous costumes that caricatured Catholicism and offended almost everyone I know (even non-Catholics). Cardinal Dolan is also being called upon to explain why this was allowed to happen – and why he attended the event.
Speaking to Christopher White of Crux.com, Dolan, who attended the event, insisted that everyone was “very appreciative, approachable, and very respectful" at the gala which was themed, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.
I’m not sure that “respectful” is an adjective I would use to describe stars wearing Nativity scenes and Papal mitres on their heads, but Dolan insisted that this was a “winner” for the Church.
“I did not find the spirit of the evening to be offensive or blasphemous at all,” he told White. “Was some of it edgy? Yes, but I never met any person that seemed to be snippy or snotty about the Church, or who intended anything to be offensive.”
He went on to describe positive encounters with George Clooney and other stars who shared happy memories of their Catholic roots.
“A lot of people were honest to say that they’ve been less than faithful to the Church of their origin,” said Dolan. “But an evening like this brings back lots of happy memories, and I thought, my, what a celebration of what we call the evangelization of culture.”
He added: “We could have had a lecture at the museum on the Catholic imagination and not too many people may have showed up, especially the crowd from last night. But when you do an evening like that, you get everybody. Boy, you talk about the public square - with some of the movers and shakers who were there - and they’re reminded of positive memories of the Church and of devotions, prayers, traditions, and liturgies, as many of them told me they were. This could only be for the good of the Church.”
However, in an interview with Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel, he did admit that “There were some aspects that looked like kind of a masquerade party, a Halloween party. I didn’t really see anything sacrilegious, I may have seen some things in poor taste, but I didn’t detect anybody out to offend the church.”
He claimed that he went to bed that night after eating three peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and praying the Rosary, and asked the Lord if just one person might return to the faith as a result of the evening.
Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire ministries, agrees that this was a prime opportunity for evangelization and one that was seized by New York’s most popular prelate.
Dolan is “one of the best evangelizers on the scene today” the Bishop told Crux.
“As a careful student of American Church history, he grasps the subtle ways that the Church has entered into a dialogue - both creative and critical - with the institutions of the secular culture. This makes him a canny player on the scene today,” he added.
While I can certainly see the Cardinal’s point-of-view, the vast majority of the faithful Catholics I have encountered were left shocked and horrified by this event – especially because the Church seemed to sanction it. Perhaps the average “pewsitter” is not as well-versed as the Cardinal in Catholic history, or as theologically equipped to understand the finer nuances of evangelization in the modern world, but they are a part of the body of Christ and their faith matters. Sure, Jesus would go off in search of a lost sheep, but that doesn’t mean He would neglect the flock He left behind.
Some consideration should have been given to the fact that this event would cause scandal among the general Catholic population.
But what’s done is done and we must move on.
This was the advice given by the popular author and apologist, Patrick Madrid, who addressed the Met Gala on Relevant Radio yesterday.
Although he also saw the event as being disrespectful to Catholics, he advised: “Say a prayer for reparation to the extent that this was mockery . . . just pray for them and move on.”
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