In case you've missed it, Timothy Cardinal Dolan is going to be grand marshal of next year's parade, which is fine. Unfortunately, it is going to be the first parade to allow openly gay marchers. Worse yet, Dolan has gone on record as saying he supports the decision.
The one thing the Bear wants to talk about is The Catholic Ghetto.
You see, nobody cares what Catholics do in their churches or their homes. Priests can give homilies about whatever they want. Catholics can eschew contraception and have ten kids apiece. Sure, the public might disapprove of much of Catholic life, but as long as we keep it on the down low, they'll tolerate us.
What makes them flip out is when Catholics step out of their churches and into the public square. They don't want to hear about our pro-life, pro-marriage propaganda. In an instant they'll go from "coexist" to screaming "keep your rosaries out of my ovaries."
Actions speak louder than words. What Cardinal Dolan is really saying is that the Catholic Church recognizes a difference between what goes on at St. Umptyfrat on Sunday morning and the real world. (By extension, he is insinuating that what goes on at St. Umptyfrat on Sunday morning isn't real, but the Bear wants to stay focused.)
To Cardinal Dolan, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is not strictly a Catholic event (unless you count St. Patrick). It is a cultural event with sponsors, such as Guinness. (Guinness' threat to pull out was one reason the organizers let the homosexuals in. The Bear suggests Korbinian's Doppelbock as an alternative, a fine Benedictine brew that's a meal in a bottle.) In Cardinal Dolan's mind, Catholics must go along with whatever rules the organizers set. If it promotes a sin, Catholics must not only stay quiet, but pay ritual obedience to the Prince of the World by expressing approval.
There is an alternative. Cardinal Dolan can't change the rules. What he can do, however, is to refuse to burn a pinch of incense before the emperor's statue. Christians died rather than perform that one, small gesture of civic responsibility. He has a splendid platform and a huge audience at this moment. He could explain that the Catholic Church believes homosexuality is a grave sin, and that it is impossible for a Cardinal of the Catholic Church to be associated with any event that promotes it. It's not like he's going to be thrown to the lions, after all, so it would not take very much courage.
Of course, Cardinal Dolan would lose the good opinion of men if he actually spoke like a prince of the Church. So instead, he is essentially telling Catholics to get into the ghetto.
Because what else is it when we put on our Catholicism like our best Mass clothes on Sunday, but dare not speak of it anywhere else? Cardinal Dolan is saying this:
I am happy to lend the name of a beloved saint and the prestige of my office to a parade that will celebrate homosexuality. You see, this is not a religious event, therefore, I don't have anything to say about it. It is not my place as a Catholic to butt into secular affairs. Whatever the organizers decide is fine with me. It's not like they are coming into our churches and telling us what to do. So why should we tell them how to run their parade?
A ghetto is any ethnic or religious enclave. The Catholic Ghetto is the place we live if we do not challenge the world's immorality. The Catholic Ghetto is where we live when greet public immorality with "who am I to judge?" or "bravo!" or "I approve." Our prelates are building the Catholic Ghetto not to protect us from the world, but, bizarrely, to protect the world from us. Don't be salt. Don't be light. Don't be controversial. Don't judge. Don't proselytize.
This is the Bear's prayer. That one day all the cowards in high places may put the last brick in the wall of the Catholic Ghetto, only to find themselves the sole residents, where they can do no harm, and a vibrant, growing Church, filling the streets, transforming the world without them.