The Archdiocese of New York confirmed today that Cardinal Timothy Dolan has accepted an invitation to offer the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention, thus confirming roles for the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at both political conventions.

Some on the right have declared victory over those who expressed concerned at Dolan’s appearance at the RNC, claiming that his prayers in Charlotte next month neutralizes concerns over those he will offer in Tampa later this week. And on one hand, Dolan’s appearance can be seen as an honor for Catholics, with one of our more prominent leaders being so in demand that he secured spots at rival events.

But does the church run the risk of losing something by appearing and acting so hyper-political this year?

The Catholic Church is called to be a prophetic voice in society, speaking for the marginalized, the voiceless, and the oppressed. It must comment on great moral issues, and take on the powerful when appropriate. But it cannot align itself too closely either political party, partisan politics, or, perhaps, national political conventions.

Perhaps in previous election cycles, an archbishop speaking at both conventions wouldn’t be controversial; perhaps it might even be cause for celebration. But recently, many bishops have become so partisan, nodding and winking as they effectively endorse the GOP. Perhaps sitting out these conventions would have been wise. If Cardinal Dolan really believes he is just “a priest going to pray,” sending a priest who hasn’t been at the fore in attacking the White House may have sufficed. 

Cardinal Dolan and some of his brother bishops are suing the Obama Administration; they have held weeks long protests against his policies; and they have spoken glowingly about Paul Ryan in the press. When he agreed to bless the GOP convention, Dolan was seemingly giving his imprimatur to the Romney campaign. A brief appearance at the DNC won’t nullify this perception. In fact, might some question the Cardinal’s motivations, or his sincerity? Will others see in these appearances a desire for the church to amass even more political capital? And most importantly, do these appearances and the ensuing controversy help or hinder the church’s mission?

Comments

David Pasinski | 8/30/2012 - 2:22pm
While I disagrree with his analysis (as usual), I side with Carlos' conclusion that it is simply a mistake for Cardinal Dolan to attempt to project "Cathoilic power" on the national stage in this way... I'll expect wild applause at one and poliite applause at the other... but what is being accomplished but his own personal agenda?
JIM MCCREA | 8/29/2012 - 4:38pm
This news and $3.00 will buy a BigBux coffee at the nearest convention coffee stand.  Don't be surprised if His Oafishness is not exactly greeted with warmth and cheering.  OTOH, expect some less-than-adulation attitude.

This will be the convention of the rest of American, not the compliant theocon theopublican Republicath rabble.
Mike Brooks | 8/29/2012 - 12:51pm
Let's be honest.  The reason that the dems invited the cardinal is because they villainize Catholics at every other time of the year.  Catholic teaching is the only thing that threatens abortion-on-demand, same-sex marriage, and destruction of the traditional family, the last being the strongest force against government domination of all of society.

"Thanks for the speech, Cardinal.  Now that you've established that we embrace Catholics, get the hell out of here, you misogynistic, bigot."

Marie Rehbein | 8/29/2012 - 8:52am
I'm not up on the appearances of religious speakers/prayers at the conventions, but if Cardinal Dolan is the only one representing religion at these events, I think it could be irritating to people of other faiths.

I do find it surprising that the people commenting here equate Dolan's presence with abortion as if that were the only issue with religious foundations.  Granted, it has more to do with religious belief than science to want to save every fertilized human egg, while caring for the poor and ill or public safety can be approached from various directions, but Cardinal Dolan, one hopes, is not going there to give a stamp of approval, but to prompt consciences into deeper consideration of all issues.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 8/29/2012 - 8:39am
Wonder if he knows what he's getting into. There is a distinct possibility they will boo him. To a lot of people at the Democratic convention, Dolan is pushing an evil anti-human agenda.

I am a practicing Catholic, as devout as any in Boston, but I do not want to live in a Catholic country. Catholic countries are distinguished by incompetence, corruption, high tolerance for brutality and low moral and intellectual standards. As far as I know, all of the really prosperous and humane countries on Earth are post-Protestant and secular. Mitt Romney is a fine candidate; his party should not try to make him look like the return of Silvio Berlusconi.

Obviously, it is utterly reprehensible and inconsonant with Christian charity to wish for our dear Republican Catholic brethren to drown in hurricane Isaac. But if the city is evacuated, let's watch what they do: if they all run to the fertility clinics and rescue the preborn zygotes, we'll know they're not hypocrites; if they run to the kindergartens and rescue the children, they should stop pretending abortion is a bigger life issue than health care.
C Walter Mattingly | 8/29/2012 - 7:18am
One wonders what Michael O'Loughlin would have Cardinal Dolan do. If as was reported, Cardinal Dolan was asked to say a prayer at the Republican convention and subsequently agreed, should he have said refused? Should he have retreated from public participation in the life of the state, to be not subject to a wall of separation, but to be walled off from that life as some, possibly including the president, seem to desire? It was also reported that Cardinal Dolan  on his own initiative extended the same offer to the DNC. Was it wrong for the Cardinal to reciprocate, offering the same prayers as were requested and granted to the opposition? Does such an offer indicate insincerity, as Michael O'Loughlin suggests, or an expression of evenhandedness in devotion and prayer?
That Cardinal Dolan objects elsewhere to the openly hostile actions President Obama has taken against the Church, from forcing it to fund birth control and abortifacients against the free expression of its beliefs, for which the president was excoriated by his own liberal supporters such as Paul Shields, to fighting to deny needy inner city children the vouchers to attend among other options parochial schools which have proven to offer them far better chances of graduation, should not be taken as indications that the Cardinal opposes all the positions of the party. It is possible to oppose such actions of the president while supporting the objectives of the party in other instances.
And praying for it in all instances. 
Tom Maher | 8/29/2012 - 2:01am
This will heighten the "War on Religion"/ "War on Women" conflict stirred up by President Obama as a re-election strategy such as the HHS mandate regulation on religious insistuions.  Also the Democratic party convention as never before has this year an intense pro-abortion theme in their platform and will have ten pro-abortion speakers who will promote pro-abortion and  "War on Women" themes.  These convention themes are very inflamatory and divisive and can easily get out of hand at the convention.  These themes are not consistant with inviting Cardinal Dolan.

The Democrates are underestimating the intensity of hosility toward pro-life and religious groups.  For example the Drudge Reports tonight says that one actress publically expressed that she hoped the pro-life and other groups at the Republican convention drown in the Hurricane Issac.  The Democratic convention has a very divisive theme that could provoke anti-religious hostility at the Democratic convention.
David Pasinski | 8/29/2012 - 2:56pm
If anyone stays up for them, I think he should give the same simple prayer at each place...
"God help our nation and the world. Amen."
Kevin Murphy | 8/30/2012 - 2:34am
"But it [the Catholic Church] cannot align itself too closely either political party, partisan politics, or, perhaps, national political conventions."

An interesting comment from Mr. O'Loughlin.   Let's keep it in mind as America's election coverage unravels over the next few months.   I know they won't show any love for the Republicans, but the Democrats?   We shall see if the "non-alignment" truly applies.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 8/29/2012 - 4:17pm
@ Vince - Cardinal Dolan can't overtly play partisan politics, publicaly praying with the RNC and not doing so with the DNC, as president of the USCCB.  That's a politcal endorsement...big no-no for an organization with non-exempt tax status.

@ Dave - Amen, indeed. 
Vince Killoran | 8/29/2012 - 1:13pm
Why is Cardinal Dolan working so hard to get on the platform of both major parties? Is this his attempt to be relevant?  It seems desperate.
Anonymous | 8/29/2012 - 2:21am
"The Catholic Church is called to be a prophetic voice in society, speaking for the marginalized, the voiceless, and the oppressed. It must comment on great moral issues, and take on the powerful when appropriate."

Could the author please tell us what is more prophetic than opposing the innocent lives sacrificed each year via abortion - with 98% due to issues of convenience/"choice".

What is more prophetic than opposite the sacrifice of children to false idols?

(I realize this is an embarrassing/unwanted question for urbane, liberal types) 
Tom Maher | 8/31/2012 - 10:56am
Cardinal Dolan gave a excellant clsoing benediction, praying for many people, groups and casues and goals including naming Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan worthy of prayer and blessings.  How unusual.  So apparently you do not have to be a Kennedy  or a liberal Democrat for a Cardiinal of the Catholci Church to pray or associate with you or your group anymore.  anytmore every politcal facttion inclduign the occupying Roman Centurians. 

Speaker of the House ohn Boehner introduced the Cardinal with the reminder that a "preferential options for the poor" is not a preferential option for big goverenment.  Very apt.  To hear the polemics of many Catholci theology faculty one would never think that Mitt Romney or Payul Ryan had any moral legitamcy or reason for their plans to correct the serious economic problems of society. 

So now we know.we know the basics: It's OK for Catholics not to not vot?e for ?Obama ??a?n?d? ?i?t? ?i?s? ??O?K? ?for Catholics ?t?o? ?v?o?t?e? ?f?o?r? ???M?I?t?t? ????????????R?o?m??e?n?y? ?a?n?d? ???P?a?u?l? ??R?y?a?n???.? ??
John Hayes | 8/31/2012 - 12:47am
Here s the video of Cardinal Dolan's Prayer. It is longer than the text posted on the Archdiocesan website. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6-SaIhpqeM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
ed gleason | 8/31/2012 - 12:37am
Flash.. flash.. Dolan closing invocation may now be given to Clint Eastwood... made my day .. 5 wives and seven children. (=:
C Walter Mattingly | 8/30/2012 - 12:48pm
Amy (#4), 
It will be interesting indeed to see if Cardinal Dolan is booed at the DNC. That would at least serve one purpose: it would make clear to all Americans whether the animus President Obama has shown to the church by the variety of actions he has taken against it represents his personal position and a minority portion of the extreme left of the party or is a position indicative of the majority of Democrats. I for one would like that to be clarified for all prior to the election.
While the human lives lost to the fertility clinics is a tragedy, I don't know what legal standing a concerned group would have that would enable them to "rescue" them, any more than existed prior to the hurricane. Until progress is made reversing Roe/Wade, probably as little as these lost labratory children might represent of the million or so aborted here annually by the everyday means. Yet as we have recently had a big hubub concerning changes in the English translation of the liturgy, it would be interesting to anticipate how a new translation of the New Testament by certain
theologians might flesh out. "Joseph, I am with zygote," maybe? That might better serve the post-Christian, New Age Spirituality some who recently left the LCWR apparently desire.
 
Carlos Orozco | 8/29/2012 - 9:45pm
It is my humble opinion that Cardinal Dolan made a mistake accepting to participate in any of the two conventions that signal the official beginning of the Presidential reality show. After all the hyped, divisive and heated discussion, a mediocre politician will be (re)elected to lead the United States in increasing crisis. Expect nothing resembling an Eisenhower or JFK coming out of Tampa or Charlotte.

I don't think the country is ready to give power back to the Republicans after the disaster that was the George W. Bush presidency, but they actually have a fair shot after President Obama has proven to be, time and time again, a manipulative incompetent which has concentrated even more illegal power than his predecessor.

The Church would be wise not to perceived as a component in the two-party political system that seems destined to train-wreck the United States, and the world with it, in the not distant future.