Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention last night, concluding his fewweeks in the national political spotlight that saw many pundits discussing the pros and cons of having the nation’s most notable Catholic prelate appear in such partisan convention halls.
Both of Dolan’s prayers were very similar, but they did contain some important differences. He spent more time on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues at the DNC, and he highlighted labor only at the RNC. The head of the USCCB mentioned Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan by name at the DNC, but prayed for only the “president and vice-president” at the RNC.
I said last week on Fox News that, despite having concerns about Dolan’s appearance at the conventions, I hoped he would challenge both parties, making both Democrats and Republicans alike a bit uncomfortable. To some extent, he did. Sure, I think he maybe hammered same-sex marriage too hard at the DNC, perhaps insulting some in attendance who have fought personally for the right to civil marriage in attendance, but I’ve examined and categorized parts of the prayers  below.
What do you think? Did Dolan act as prophet or partisan? Did he challenge both parties to consider how they might live out Gospel truths? Was his appearance at the conventions appropriate?
DNC: Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.
RNC: We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.
DNC: May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.
RNC: Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.
DNC: We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.
RNC: We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life.
DNC: Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love.
RNC: we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty. Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom.
RNC: We pray for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which you so richly blessed this nation.
DNC: Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.
RNC: Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed in our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone.
DNC: We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.
RNC: Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.
DNC: We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.
RNC: and on all those, in every land, who seek to conduct their lives in freedom.
DNC: Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms.
RNC: And make us ever-grateful for all those who, for more than two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform.
DNC: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office.
RNC: the president and vice-president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan.
Michael J. O'Loughlin