Cdl. Dolan defends Amy Coney Barrett: She ‘takes her Catholic faith seriously’

The archbishop of New York chided liberals for suggesting that Barrett should be disqualified from the Supreme Court for being Catholic.
Wed Oct 7, 2020 - 7:14 pm EST
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Abp. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York. Jeenah Moon / Getty Images

NEW YORK, October 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York defended Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a woman of faith on a September 29 segment of his Conversations with Cardinal Dolan program.

Referring to the 2017 hearings for her confirmation as a federal appeals judge, Dolan said: “There were some nasty comments: ‘We hear you take your faith seriously. We hear you really believe.’”

“When you look at some of that grilling in the past, it was like they were testing her on her faith. Well, that’s just out of bounds, folks.”

One of the most direct recent criticisms of Barrett’s Catholicism has come from a N.Y. Times opinion piece titled “Amy Coney Barrett and the New, Old Anti-Catholicism,” published the same day as Barrett’s nomination. The article made the claim that “pious Catholics are a problem for liberalism,” pointing out that John Locke “notably excluded Catholics from the religions meriting toleration because he suspected they could not be trusted to leave their faith in the appropriate sphere.”

Dolan himself has recently garnered criticism from liberal Catholics for his praise of President Trump and his offering of prayer at this year’s National Republican Convention. Dolan maintained that his offering of prayer is not an endorsement of a party or candidate and that he would have “happily accepted” an invitation to offer prayer at the Democratic National Convention, as he did in 2012.

In his radio segment, Dolan compared Barrett’s faith with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. “What I admired in the accolades to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there were a lot of articles about her deep Jewish faith and how she was not afraid to say that the values of her Jewish faith animated how she lived, and how she judged.”

However, according to Ginsburg’s biographer, Ginsburg’s connection to her Jewish faith was tenuous at best.

Jane Sherron De Hart, professor emerita of history at the University of California and biographer of Ginsburg, described a moment that “forever marked her relationship with religious Judaism.” Following the death of her mother, Ginsburg, who was 17 at the time, was not allowed as a woman to say the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer.

“She was extremely indignant about it,” De Hart said. “She felt it was an affront to her mother, and there was nothing she could do about it. That was the end of her affiliation with the religious dimension of Judaism.”

This becomes more apparent when one considers that in contradiction to Jewish law, Ginsburg was consistently pro-abortion during her term as a Supreme Court justice. For example, Ginsburg joined in the court’s 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, which struck down Nebraska’s law prohibiting partial-birth abortion.

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Barrett, by contrast, not only is actively involved in her religious community, but lives a life shaped by her faith.

“If Amy Coney Barrett’s religious beliefs were to be raised during her confirmation hearings, it would presumably be because her Catholic faith appears to be of unusual intensity and character,” reported NPR.

NPR cited advice Barrett addressed to her graduate students at Notre Dame Law School: that they should view their future legal profession “as but a means to an end ... and that end is building the Kingdom of God."

Barrett also took fire from then-senator Al Franken during her 2017 court of appeals confirmation hearing for teaching constitutional law at the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a training program for Christian lawyers. A Christian worldview appears to be an integral part of the program’s formation, as shown by its website. It states that faculty engage in discussion with interns “while promoting a robust view of universal moral truths” and that “the curriculum also incorporates daily worship and a devotional series.”

Barrett is perhaps most known — and most disparaged — for her involvement in the religious group People of Praise, which functions as a guiding influence in the lives of those who choose to take its covenant pledge. While it hasn’t been confirmed whether Barrett took the pledge, according to the Denver Post, “descriptions of its hierarchy show that members almost invariably join the covenant after three to six years of religious study or they leave, so it would be very unusual for Barrett to continue to be involved for so many years without having done so.”

For various reasons, commentators have argued that the prominent role that faith takes in Barrett’s life shouldn’t be considered an issue to begin with. While Jesuit author and journalist Thomas Reese considers religion “totally irrelevant” to evaluating what kind of judge she will be, Attorney General William Barr makes another point altogether.

“In American public discourse, perhaps no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of separation of church and state,” he said at this September’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. “Militant secularists have long seized on that slogan as a facile justification for attempting to drive religion from the public square,” Barr said, “and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good.”

Janet Denison, a Christian blogger, views Barrett’s faith as a direct influence on her character, particularly now, when Barrett is taking so much heat: “It occurred to me that, in an ocean of vitriol, she is quietly confident. Surrounded by words of slander, she allows her life to be her defense. She doesn’t just believe her opinions, she lives them.”

  amy coney barrett, catholic, freedom of religion, supreme court, timothy dolan

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