Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kim Daniels New Spokeperson For President of Catholic Bishops Can't Be Easily Pigeon-Holed

Cardinal Dolan made a rather significant appointment today that got some attention. That is making Kim Daniels of Catholic Voices his Spokesperson.

The main media avenue that this is being digested from is the David  Gibson article of the Religious News Service .

Gibson I suspect put some teeth on edge right off the bat by calling Catholic Voices " a conservative media lobby " which I am not sure they  really view themselves that way at all. Also the fact that he just seemed to highlight Daniels political links for the most part has been seemed as unfair by some.

I think there has been some overreaction to the the Gibson piece but I do understand the concerns that some have that she will be portrayed as some right wing GOP party establishment hack. Something I am pretty sure Dolan would not want.

 Two good posst on Kim Daniels and what makes here tick. For a very good piece written by Katheryn Lopez  see A New Voice for U.S. Bishops & Women in the Catholic Church

There was also quite a " Defense " of the appointment by a Michigan Catholic Lawyer Conor Dugan on his facebook page today of the appointment. Other Catholic notables such as Patrick Deneen also show up in the comments to register their assent to the pick. Also David Gibson himself shows up and engages some criticism of this piece that some have. I thought it might be good to post that facebook entry because I think it is very informative.

Tonight, I'm going to post something a little longer than normal. David Gibson asks whether the bishops have found their "attractive, articulate, intelligent spokeswoman" in a woman appointed today as the spokeswoman for president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The short answer is that they have. Kim Daniels, the new spokeswoman, is all those things and much more. Unfortunately, it seems that the meme surrounding this appointment is the following: Bishops appoint arch neoconservative, former Sarah Palin advisor as USCCB's President's Spokesman.

Rarely, has there been a more reductive attempt at capturing the truth of something or someone. Let's state the facts first. Kim did serve as an advisor to Sarah Palin (post-2008 election) and she has worked for the St. Thomas More Law Center. (And we should hope that more people of her caliber serve people like Palin and organizations like the TMLC.)

To end there, however, is to fail, utterly fail, to grasp the great blessing bestowed upon the Bishops Conference in this appointment. These facts serve to caricature and to categorize someone who defies such caricature and categorization. If the media fail to go any farther than this, they will be doing a great disservice and failing to get to the truth of the matter.

Unfortunately, even good folks like Deacon Greg Kandra are following the theme here. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/04/usccb-hires-sarah-palin-advisor-as-cardinal-dolans-spokesperson/ (Though I see he has updated his post.)

I know Kim well. Kim and her husband David Daniels have been friends for many years. I've been blessed to break bread with them numerous times, to go see Juno together, to attend the Extraordinary Form Mass together, to meet great people at gatherings at their house, and receive wonderful life and career advice from both of them. To categorize Kim as some neoconservative neanderthal -- even assuming such a caricature is fair to those who would identify as neoconservatives -- is ridiculous and horribly inaccurate. (And I do not identify as a neoconservative but as a Schindlerian after David Schindler and his work.)

Rarely, have I met a person as thoughtful, insightful, curious, and interesting as Kim. This is a woman through whom I met Patrick Deneen and Chad and Sara Pecknold. (Patrick and Chad can hardly be characterized as neoconservatives at peace with our liberal democracy.) This is a woman who lent me her copy of Bill Kauffman's "Ain't My America." (Kim, I still need to read it.) She's the friend who tried to convince me to come to the first Front Porch Republic Conference. In short, Kim is not a mindless conservative who affirms the greatness and inerrant nature of the American Republic. She's someone sympathetic to Deneen and David Schindler and their criticisms of American liberalism. She's someone who thinks deeply about the deepest things. If there were anyone we'd want advising our bishops, this is the woman. She's forceful and thoughtful, hardly a shrinking violet, who will likely educate our bishops as much as they educate her. She will point out flaws in their reasoning and help them to make better arguments and better proposals to our citizens. She is EXACTLY what our bishops need and rather than running with stories about how a former Palin advisor is now advising and speaking for Cardinal Dolan, we should be extolling the great virtues she brings to this position -- virtues which I have no doubt she will bring to bear in a good and positive way in this position.

The other aspect of Kim that I greatly respect is that she is not one to sit on the sidelines. Her involvement as an advisor to Sarah Palin and as a lawyer for the St. Thomas More Law Center are examples of this. I don't want to speak for Kim, but I have no doubt that she better than many sees the flaws of someone like Sarah Palin or the TMLC. But she's not someone paralyzed by the less than perfect. She saw opportunities with Palin and TMLC to promote the common good and she did so. It would be easy for her to sit on the sidelines and offer criticisms. She's offered criticisms and also tried to put her deepest beliefs into action in the public arena. This storm over Palin will pass, but we shouldn't let it cloud what is an extraordinary choice by the USCCB. American Catholics were blessed today and THAT should be the story that dominates the headlines, not an association from a number of years back. In Kim Daniels we Catholics have gotten a thoughtful and well-spoken evangelist, not an ideologue or some rigid joyless person. Deo Gratias for this great gift.

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