Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote a powerful piece decrying the destruction of statues and monuments in the United States.
The New York Archbishop published a July 2 blog addressing the destruction of the country’s most treasured historical monuments. He refers to this unrest as “unhelpful” for our “necessary common conversation on racism.”
The Wall Street Journal also published the op-ed.
Cardinal Dolan says eliminating the monuments can lead to the virus that is “historic amnesia.”
The cardinal said that while we should still remember these people for their serious wrongs, we should also remember them for their great contributions to society.
“All of them still contributed a lot of good to our nation’s progress,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Defacing, tearing down, and hiding statutes and portraits is today’s version of puritanical book-burning.
“Our children need to know their country’s past, and her normative figures, their virtues and vices. That’s how we learn and pass on our story.”
“Such rash iconoclasm can lead to an historic amnesia that will eliminate something essential for our necessary common conversation on racism: the memory of flawed human beings who, while sadly and scandalously wrong on burning issues such as slavery and civil rights, were right on so many others, and need to be remembered for both.”
Cardinal Dolan: All people are imperfect and sinners. Eliminate all figures, and only Jesus and Mary would remain.
“Is not the same true with our country’s historical personalities? All of them had flaws, yet all of them still contributed a lot of good to our nation’s progress.”
“The same could be true of the Church I love and am honored to serve. Yes, there are scandalous parts of our history, and countless episodes when popes, bishops, priests, and others – including some who are now saints – did not act as they should have.”
“God forbid we’d go through a ‘cultural revolution’ like Mao’s China did five decades ago! What a mess! What a disaster! Beware of those who want to purify memories and present a tidy – and inaccurate – history.
“It seems like some of our leader’s today wake up each morning and ask, ‘What are the demands from the protestors today? Let’s agree to them!'”
“And who’s to say which statues, portraits, books, and dedications are spared? Remember when some objected to raising the status of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s birthday to a national holiday, citing his humbly self-admitted flaws as reasons to exclude him?
“Thank God they did not prevail!
“If literature with some expression of prejudice, or words or scenes that are today rightly abhorred, is to be banned, I don’t know if even the Bible can survive!
“If we only honor perfect, saintly people of the past, I guess I’m left with only the Cross…and some people would ban that!”
“I want to remember the good and the bad, and recall with gratitude how even people of the past who had an undeniable dark side can still let light prevail and leave the world better.
“I want to keep bringing classes of school children to view such monuments, and to explain to them how even such giants in our history had crimes, unjust acts, and just plain poor judgment mixed in with the good we honor.
“Most of all, I do not want to be infected by the new virus of today, ‘historical dementia.’ As the saying goes, ‘Those not familiar with the past are bound to repeat its mistakes.'”
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