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Cardinal Dolan to bless Republican convention

The latest in non-endorsements, via The AP:

NEW YORK Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the Republican National Convention on the night Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination. The cardinals spokesman said the appearance was not an endorsement.Dolan is the New York archbishop and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Romney announced Dolans appearance in an interview with Raymond Arroyos The World Over Live on EWTN Catholic network.

From the NYT version:

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said Cardinal Dolans agreement to participate, which occurred within the last two weeks, should not be seen as partisan.Cardinal Dolan is going to pray, not to engage in partisan politics, Mr. Zwilling said. He made it clear when he accepted the invitation that he would also accept an invitation from the Democratic National Committee to offer a prayer at their convention, should they ask.He is going simply to pray, which is part of what a priest should do.Before accepting the invitation, Cardinal Dolan told the convention organizers that it was standard church practice for the local bishop of the area to give the blessing. But, Mr. Zwilling said, they said we would really like you to do it, so he checked with Robert Nugent Lynch, the bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla., and he had no objection.

I wonder how much sway the hierarchy really brings here. Folks tend to recoil at perceived political action by their church leaders, even if they might agree with those leaders on the issues. And of course, what if Obama wins? Is putting all your eggs in one basket good politics?


Commenting Guidelines

He made it clear when he accepted the invitation that he would also accept an invitation from the Democratic National Committee to offer a prayer at their convention, should they ask.This seems to be a bit different take from that posted on the HuffingtonPost, which implies that Cardinal Dolan let it be known to both parties that he would accept an invitation before the Republican offer. Dolan's spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, said the cardinal told both the Republican and Democratic parties that he would accept any invitation to offer a prayer at their conventions.Who is right?So, Robert Nugent Lynch, the bishop of Tampa-St. Pete, had no objections to the departure from protocol. Come on.I assume that Cardinal Dolan is wise enough to know that he is being used big time by the Republican Party. (I cant wait to see the Romney ad where his face fades into Cardinal Dolans as was the case in the ad about Romneys visit in Poland when his face faded into that of Pope John Paul IIs.) Cardianl Doaln could have graciously said: No thank you. It is not standard practice for a bishop other than the ordinary of the diocese where the convention is being held to give a prayer. I would prefer to not give any appearance of partisanship by such participation.

Folks tend to recoil at perceived political action by their church leaders

Ever hear of the Christian Democrats?

Paul Krugman asks an important question about the convention.

legitimate rape, Ayn Rand, nude tipsy swims in the Sea of Galilee, Cardinal Dolan, racism, etc. Is there no end to this comedy?

I don't think it's a big deal about Cardinal Dolan giving the invocation. I have no idea if it will change anybody's votes, and if we're going to politicize religion,the Democrats could pretty easily one-up Dolan as speaker. They could invite a woman rabbi, minister or Catholic religious sister to give the invocation at the Democratic convention, for example.

I'm thinking a religious sister or woman minister working to help victims of human trafficking, or working to help other poor women in need, would be a great choice to give an invocation at the Democratic convention.

It would be politically foolish for the DNC to make any attempts at counterprogramming.

Irene Baldwin: of course you're right, but it's unlikely to happen, since the religious sister or woman minister is unlikely to influence many votes. As for Dolan, let's wait and see what he says before deciding whether he's partisan or not. There is an unfortunate tendency among clerics asked to do this sort of thing to reel off a long laundry list of things reminding God of what he (assuming he's omniscient) already knows. Protestants used to be the worst offenders, but Catholics are rapidly catching up. Should Dolan use his bully pulpit to remind us of our God-given right to use private property as we see fit, for instance, we know he's cozying up to the Republicans. Should he on the other hand use said pulpit to remind the more fortunate of their responsibilities to use their material goods to the benefit of the less fortunate, it might be an enlightening lesson for his audience. And should he suggest that in a world of hunger and poverty we might wish to reconsider the necessity of a defense budget that outweighs all the rest of the world's defense budgets, he will probably be driven from the podium, and tarred and feathered.As for the Democrats, a speaker there might wish to raise the interesting findings of a new study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy showing that secular states are rather less generous in charitable giving than religious states. for the appalling length of the url -- but it makes interesting reading).

"It would be politically foolish for the DNC to make any attempts at counterprogramming."Won't the Democratic National Convention have an opening invocation? I thought a woman pastor gave it at the last one.

Nicholas: That's a really interesting web site (my zip code ranked 811 out of 28,000. I'm trying to figure out though how we rank for income in that list)

Well we could hardly expect AB Dolan to bless the abortionistas at the D-convention, could we?

Ken:That is an unnecessary slur and contributes nothing to a civil discussion.

Ken-I think we should ask the Cardinal to pray for all Catholics, of all parties, that we work together respectfully for the common good.

According to the Times story this morning, Dolan is giving the closing prayer. Is that an invocation or a provocation?

Well, if Hurricane Isaac (Hebrew name, "he laughs") reaches Tampa next week Cardinal Dolan's Benediction may not be an issue. However, having lived in Florida for 22 years, I do not wish a hurricane on any place. Hopefully, there will only be some residual wind and rain that would cut down on any skinny dipping in Tampa Bay.

secular states are rather less generous in charitable giving than religious states.Except the next paragraph starts: "When religious giving isnt counted, the geography of giving is very different." IOW secular states do not contribute to religious causes, a not very surprising conclusion that explains why religious states give more. Religious states support more religious institutions.Very interesting study indeed.

"What need you, being come to sense, but fumble in a greasy till, and add the halfpence to the pence, and prayer to shivering prayer, until you have dried the marrow from the bone; for men were born to pray and save..."

While Ken's comment is perhaps impolitic, there is something in his statement to consider. It's quite obvious by now that a number of bishops and a number of the laity have played identity politics in conjunction with the Republican party for several decades. This, in my view, has been extremely perilous. Politicians and lobbies often turn quickly to satisfy their self-interests. Is not the Christian faith eternal? If certain clerical and lay Catholics wish to fight with a confessional political sword, then they must be prepared to die by this sword should the time arrive.

I'll wait and see what Cdl Dolan has to say, but my first reaction was that it is questionable judgement on his part. He should have declined in favor of the local guy. This will mostly be seen as an ego play on the wanna be rock star Dolan, and an inappropriate endorsement from the NCCB President.On the other hand, if his benediction is strictly non-partisan and devoid of code, no harm, but why?

David Smith, I'm not sure I get your point about Christian Democrats. That didn't work out very well, and that was also a largely pre-war/post-war phenomenon in Europe. In the U.S., Putnam and Campbell's research shows religious voters are turned off by faith leaders who are perceived to be political. The general public even moreso. Do you have contrary evidence?

Jim McK: yes, I'm aware that if religious giving isn't counted, the geography of giving is different. And I've heard this argument before, especially from those in my own state of Vermont, which is very secular and very stingy (I believe we rank about 48 or 49 for charitable giving). But I don't know why, if one is looking at generosity in general, it makes any sense to discount religious giving. Surely, if I'm a secularist who does not care for religious causes, should I not give instead to worthy non-religious causes like CARE or Save the Children or the local foodbank? But apparently it doesn't happen; hence the generosity gap. Furthermore, I don't know what's counted as religious giving. Is my million dollar gift to Fordham (they should be so lucky) a religious gift, while my five million to Harvard or the Metropolitan Opera isn't? How about my gift to Columbia-Presbyterian? Which side is that on? Are CARE or Save the Children secular, while Catholic Relief Services or Jewish World Services aren't? I don't know. If I were more of an American historian than I am, I'd probably know when the first Catholic pooh-bah addressed a national convention. I'd bet, however, it wouldn't be the Democrats when they were holding on to the Solid South, in the days of Wilson, FDR, Truman, etc., but I may well be wrong.

It's not like Spelly blessing the bombers going to Vietnam, and Cdl O'Connor was very visible in backing Dole in 1996. But I can't find a precedent for this -- the leader of the hierarchy giving a benediction at the national nominating convention, and in place of the ordinary. Also, when the bishops are seen as in the Republican corner and against Obama already. Then again, Dolan has been getting hit hard from the right over the Al Smith Dinner invite to Obama, so he could use some cover.

Nicholas,As I understand it, the figures were compiled from tax return data, so charitable giving includes donations to churches. I would bet that the bulk of "religious giving" is to local parishes, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. if we are looking at generosity, I am not sure those donations should be classed with CARE, Catholic Charities, etc. If CARE etc. had local offices in every community comparable to these churches, they might get comparable donations. Secular society lacks such institutions to raise money and also to use it.While I am betting, I will take you up on the bet you offered. The Democratic Party of Wilson and FDR is the party that nominated the first Catholic for president, Al Smith in 1928. In an earlier era that party was known to support "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion" because it included anti-prohibition forces, Catholics and Southerners. And in a later era the Dems nominated the 2nd Catholic for president, the first to hold the office, JFK.

The only precedent I can find is Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, who gave the benediction at the 1972 Republican National Convention. He was president of the bishops conference at the time. He had left that position when he delivered the benediction at the 1984 RNC in Dallas.

That convention was also in Florida. But it nominated Nixon-Agnew. I trust Cdl Dolan will have a better prayer.

I wonder if Cardinal Krol checked with Coleman Carroll, the bishop of Miami, to see if he had any objection.

To observe all the jurisdictional niceties it might be wise to have the Pope deliver the invocation.

What would be so wrong about, for example, Sr. Pat Farrell saying an opening or closing prayer? I'm sure her words would be healing and non-political. Her address at the LCWR conference was beautiful. In a rancorous environment, she's a role model for all.Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

Because it would be an adolescent response. Why should the DNC take its cues from the RNC? Is it OK if a non-Catholic prays at the DNC?

Secular society lacks such institutions to raise money and also to use it.Yes, and the next question to ask is: why is that so? If the non-religious are not as active in raising and spending on charitable causes, is it not because they are somewhat less charitable? Tht seems to be a tautology. And they don't give as much because they don't choose to give as much.

This is one thing scheduled to be held in Charlotte:St. Patrick Cathedral invites all the faithful to a period of continuous Eucharistic Adoration from Monday, Sept. 3, to Thursday, Sept. 6, coinciding with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.This time of Adoration and prayer will focus on petitions for our country, our leaders and ourselves in atonement for our sins and for the future of our nation. Among these petitions are the right to live, unthreatened by government mandate, from natural conception to natural death, and for the freedom of conscience and the unhindered worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.Volunteers may sign up for as many hours as they like during the four-day vigil (Note: Children younger than 18 are not permitted in the church without a chaperoning adult between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.)Sign up online at

I think it's pretty clear where Dolan stands. Here he is on Paul Ryan from Dolan's radio show:I came to know and admire him immensely, Cardinal Dolan added. And I would consider him a friend. He and his wife Janna and their three kids have been guests in my house; Ive been a guest at their house. Theyre remarkably upright, refreshing people. And hes a great public servant. Stating he was speaking personally and not from a partisan point of view and not trying to be an apologist for Ryan, Cardinal Dolan praised Ryans call for financial accountability and restraint and a balanced budget as well as his obvious solicitude for the poor.Noting that there may be differences in prudential judgment over how to assist the poor, Cardinal Dolan added that I admire him. Hes honest. Hes refreshing. Do I agree with everything? No, but . . . Im anxious to see him in action.Obvious solicitude for the poor? The Cardinal and I must have different understandings of the word "obvious." This is very disappointing.(Quotes come via Andrew Sullivan:

"According to the Times story this morning, Dolan is giving the closing prayer. Is that an invocation or a provocation?"It's a long shot, Margaret, but perhaps it will be a revocation. ;)

Shawn, good to see no one is politicizing the Eucharist!

I see this completely differently than the rest of you.Cardinal Dolan is clearly going to pray for the party that needs it most. And I call on my fellow Democrats to pray with him when the GOP opens its convention. Maybe all that prayer power will pray a heart into some of those economic policies.I agree with Grant that playing "dueling invocations by famous Catholics" is a crummy idea for the DNC. It promotes divisiveness in the Church. I'd rather see a joint invocation by three or four clergy to illustrate the Big Tent appeal the Democrats have always had.And I hope they play "Happy Days Are Here Again." Or at least show Ray Charles' "America the Beautiful" video. Take that, Kate Smith!

I haven't much time for research at the moment, but from John Tracy Ellis's The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons, v.II, I have found that Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore gave the invocation at the Democratic National Convention held in Baltimore in 1912. Cardinal Gibbons also gave the invocation at the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1920. Gibbons was already scheduled to be in Chicago for a Church occasion. And perhaps Archbishop Mundelein (cardinal from 1924) was happy to let Cardinal Gibbons offer the prayer. Mundelein was a staunch Democrat, and later an avid supporter and friend of Franklin Roosevelt.In any case, the custom of having a Catholic bishop offer a prayer at the conventions of both parties has a fairly long history, though it has almost always been the bishop of the diocese where the convention was being held. Given the present charged atmosphere, I think the Cardinal Archbishop of New York has put his foot wrong in accepting Governor Romney's invitation to go to Tampa. Perhaps this was to counter the considerable criticism that Cardinal Dolan has received for inviting President Obama to the Alfred E. Smith dinner in October.

So Dolan can give a prayer at the RNC but Obama can't give a talk at ND commencement. The latter is wrong while the former is non partisan??? Perhaps Obama could have offered to speak at Bob Jones U should they ask. While Dolan just can't stop blundering, the biggest news in this is Romney announcing this news on EWTN with its puppet Arroyo who lost his reasoning ages ago and cheer leads every right wing who will talk to him. EWTN never ceases to amaze with every priest who comments on the coming election on EWTN making abortion the central issue of the campaign. This is as fatuous and vacuous as it gets.

I think the events outside the convention will be much more interesting than those inside. OccupyRNC has a whole series of events planned, including some with local faith leaders. And they're quite non-partisan; at the end of the convention they will begin their March on the DNC, because, as their website says, both parties are screwing over the country by pandering to corporate interests (though they use stronger language than I would put here).

Id rather see a joint invocation by three or four clergy to illustrate the Big Tent appeal the Democrats have always had.I never like disagreeing with you, Jean, :) but there is one area where the vaunted Big Tent has become a pup tent. Democrats for Life of America proposed the following language to the DP platform committee for inclusion in the platform:"We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our Party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues.However, we can find common ground. We believe that we can reduce the number of abortions because we are united in our support for policies that assist families who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies. We believe that women deserve to have a breadth of options available as they face pregnancy: including, among others, support and resources needed to handle the challenges of pregnancy, adoption, and parenthood; access to education, healthcare, childcare; and appropriate child support. We envision a new day without financial or societal barriers to bringing a planned or unplanned pregnancy to term."Seems like a very modest proposal to me that would reinforce the DPs Big Tent claims. More about the proposal can be found at the DFLA website: platform committee rejected the proposal outright. That may have had something to do with the NARAL Pro-Choice America president being a member of the committee (and scheduled to be a featured speaker at the convention in Charlotte). DFLA (of which I am a member) supports multiple strategies for reduction in the number of abortions, including economic and social safety nets for pregnant women and increased funding for pregnancy crisis centers. Pro-life Democrats are assailed on one side by Republicans for working for such economic aid, and assailed on the other side by fellow Democrats for daring to challenge the pro-choice hegemony controlling the DP. So much for a Big Tent of differing views on a complicated, contentious issue!

I'm watching the weather on TV, and I"m just wondering: What if Isaac is a really big hurricane, it hits Tampa, and Romney does not have a majority of the votes because not enough of his delegates can get there. Must Romney still be chosen as candidate? Is that mathematically possible?

"St. Patrick Cathedral invites all the faithful to a period of continuous Eucharistic Adoration from Monday, Sept. 3, to Thursday, Sept. 6, coinciding with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte."And what are they doing at the time of the RNC convo? May I suggest a non-stop exorcism? They may skip the upchucking of pea soup if they wish.

A "benediction" is a "blessing," right? Cdl. Dolan is blessing the evening that Romney-Ryan are nominated. Isn't that about as blatant a political act as possible?

William Collier, a very good comment -- alas. Dems for Life are getting hammered on all sides, and yet they could be the fulcrum for resolving or easing solutions to many problems. I see a group called Republicans for Choice also got frozen out of the platform and debate. (Even Log Cabin Republicans have more sway.)But I think the real analogous group for the GOP would be something like "Republicans for Social Justice." Is there anything like that out there?

"The [DNC] platform committee rejected the proposal outright."William, I agree with you that this is sorry news, particularly as the statement is inclusive and offers language that reflects true common ground and common sense. And there is nothing in the language that contradicts any traditional values in the Democratic Party.

Ann asked If the non-religious are not as active in raising and spending on charitable causes, is it not because they are somewhat less charitable?This may be a tautology, but only because its phrasing begs the question. Should we count donations to one's own parish or mosque as "charitable"? If so then religious states are more charitable, but largely because they have more institutions that need charity. Secular states lack the infrastructure of religion, and the need to maintain that infrastructure.If I give 25% of my earnings to the Church of Scientology, am I more charitable than someone who gives 5% to CARE? If the IRS decertified Scientology, but I kept up my donations, would I then be less charitable?

Obvious solicitude for the poor?40 cents of every dollar spent in the Federal budget is borrowed. That is unsustainable! Everyone's income taxes would need to roughly double to avoid any spending cuts. So things need to change for everyone: pay more in taxes AND receive less in benefits. Ryan has made a positive contribution to that debate, as opposed to kicking the can down the road, and he should be commended for that.

I heard on NPR an interview with Republicans for Choice, who are angry over not being heard by their Platform Committee.I wish the Democratic Platform Committee had been more open to the statement given by Democrats for Life. It seems to me that they could have shown that democratic spirit they have always prided themselves on. I have a very good friend (ahem) who once told a priest friend that she was a member of Democrats for Life. He told her that it was an oxymoron. She restrained herself from telling him what a moronic statement that was. True story. I was there.

We should not pretend that Paul Ryan is a fiscal hawk. He voted for the $5 trillion increase in the denbt under Bush. His plan would actually increase the deficit further, given the scale of his upper income tax cuts. What Ryan stands for a distribution of income away from programs that help the poor toward the wealthy. Don't take my word for it, listen to Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, possibly the most respect economic commentator in the world: "Representative Paul Ryan, Mitt Romneys new vice-presidential running mate, is, we are told, the man with the deficit-cutting plan....Yet this story has one drawback: it is false....The Ryan plan is the latest example of a consistent line of Republican fiscal policy since movement conservatism displaced traditional balanced-budget Republicanism some three decades ago. The priorities have been clear: first, tax cuts benefiting rich wealth-creators; second, cuts in spending, predominantly on the poor; and, last and least, reducing deficits."

Maybe the Cardinal is there to give the Last Rites.

Jim McCrea --My question is *why* is it that the seculars do not have more charitable institutions, e.g., like hospitals and schools and programs for the poor? Some non-churched people do give to some hospitals, etc., but the figures say that religious people on average give more. Even Dawkins has recognized this fact and has started a foundation funded by atheists for the charitable purposes.Don't ask me about individual skinflints. There are plenty everywhere.