The National Catholic Review

Cardinal Timothy Dolan (R-NY)?

Cardinal Dolan will offer a endorsement prayer during the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. From the AP:

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the Republican National Convention on the night Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination. The cardinal's 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 Dolan's appearance in an interview with Raymond Arroyo's "The World Over Live" on EWTN Catholic network.

The archdiocese is one of more than 40 Catholic groups suing President Barack Obama over his mandate that employers provide health insurance that includes free birth control as a preventive service. The rule exempts houses of worship but includes faith-affiliated employers such as hospitals, charities and colleges.

The Cardinal’s office is insisting that his appearance at the national gathering of Republicans, on the night when they endorse Mitt Romney for president, on national television, is not an endorsement, but simply “a priest going to pray.” If Cardinal Dolan were an ordinary parish priest, fine. But as Archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Dolan must know that his appearance anywhere, especially in political matters as he sues the Obama Administration, is much more than “a priest going to pray.”

How can the photos that will emerge of the Cardinal at the GOP convention, perhaps even with Romney and Ryan themselves, imply something other than an endorsement from arguably the nation’s most prominent Catholic cleric? How does this foster unity and not alienate a large segment of Catholics from their church leaders, especially as polls show that most Catholics plan to vote for Obama over Romney? Offering a prayer at a government event is one thing, but attending a purely partisan political convention is quite another. Political power is fleeting, and the church’s message must be eternal.

The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics. For the church to be able to live out its role as prophet, it cannot be tied to one political party. Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case.

Michael J. O’Loughlin

Show Comments (43)

Comments (hide)

Raj Thoopul | 8/26/2012 - 11:40pm
I wholeheartedly support your view. My significant other is a staunch catholic and I'm an Immigrant citizen. My heart goes out for people that enforce "unwanted beliefs" by strong arming a community.  When someone like Mr. Dolan (who is a Saint Louis native where I live) chooses to espouse his religious belief in a political platform, he actually is destructive and alienates religious people like me and my significant other who don't want a political platform. We want to do what we are expected to do by The Holy Bible and Mr. Dolan's action is not helping.
Peter Sullivan | 8/23/2012 - 3:45pm
''Democrats will never have a Mormon come near their convention. They hate them even more than orthodox Catholics.''

Mo Udall nearly won the Democratic nomination in 1976 and was short-listed for Vice President.

Dick Swett was the first Democrat elected from New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district in 80 years and came within a point of being elected to the US Senate.

Harry Reid is the Majority Leader in the US Senate.

Tom Udall, US Senator from New Mexico.

Ambassador Bob King, US Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea and former Chief of Staff to Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos.

Next argument, please.
Mary Nolan | 8/24/2012 - 1:55pm
It would have been wise and humble of Cardinal Dolan to defer officiating ( at either the Republican or Democratic convention) to the local Bishop.
Vincent Gaitley | 8/24/2012 - 1:05am
Cardinal Dolan shouldn't speak at either political convention, but he and the other bishops are political polecats. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion-and if the red hats were smarter, they would ignore both parties during these quadrennial orgies.

In fact, the bishops should shut up and start living the social teachings they claim to represent. Perhaps then traditional Catholics like me will pay attention.

I care very little about the vaunted social justice model the Church proffers. Why? Because the Church isn't democratic, earnest, or transparent on even the smallest financial matters, or much else, locally or nationally or internationally. So how dare they condone or condemn the political activities of the laity.

Open the books, let us see where the money goes, how it moves, who it serves, and why, and always how much.  Until then, I am voting my wallet, just like Rome.  Not a penny for Peter until he speaks the truth.  So there.  
Kang Dole | 8/23/2012 - 10:19pm
I don't get it. If I were orchestrating the RNC and it were in Florida, then I'd totally get a Jesus impersonator from the Holy Land Experience to do the invocation.
Vince Killoran | 8/23/2012 - 9:55pm
"His opinions enrich the blog with fresh new content and perspective."

Never mind his opinions-I wouldn't mind a few facts from him now & again. 
Carlos Orozco | 8/23/2012 - 8:54pm
Theresa (#34):

Or, maybe, the remaining Pussy Riot members that are not incarcerated in Russia. They could even dance on the floor of the Democrat convention, like they did in the Christ Savior cathedral in Moscow. After all, the President already expressed his support to the punk hooligans via the White House spokesman.
Theresa Maccarone | 8/23/2012 - 8:39pm
If I were President Obama, I would invite the officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to pray at the Democratic National Convention.
Liam Richardson | 8/23/2012 - 8:32pm
The appearance of any Catholic prelate at a national political convention is an act of pretense: that the presence of Catholic prelates matters any more. Except as an curious chimera bred of an unholy union of condescension and currying favor, perhaps. But it does no credit to the Church or her people. 

As things stand, both of the major national parties stand for things that are fundamentally repugnant to the Church, and are just digging deeper. Dressing it up with purple or scarlet is merely a Potemkin village.
Tim O'Leary | 8/23/2012 - 7:54pm
Peter #25
I could have been clearer in my initial statement. I was talking about present day pro-life, pro-heterosexual marriage Mormons. I don't think any of your examples apply, as the only 2 you listed in Congress today are Harry Reid and Tom Udall, both pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage in their votes and public statements.

But I will concede an error if I see any Mormon speaker at the Democratic Convention mention the sanctity of human life and marriage (as in wanting to protect them). As of now, I see in the press releases that that Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards will speak, along with Sandra Fluke (maybe to say a ''laity'' prayer).

This all comes down to honesty in representation and in the priority of one's religious vs. political beliefs. The same goes for people who vote against Catholic moral teaching yet still claim they are Catholics. Honesty is just not a priority for them.
Carlos Orozco | 8/23/2012 - 7:44pm
Why is it that silly articles referring to partisan politics generate the most discussion at America blogs? On the other hand, those dealing with current or potential U.S. involvelment in foreign wars only receive a fraction of the comments. What happened to the Catholic anti-war sentiment during the 2000-2008 years? Unlike the Iraq war, Syria and Iran can actually start a new World War.
Vince Killoran | 8/23/2012 - 6:45pm
Helen & Ann's points (#5 & #6) are compelling.

Why does Josh keep pasting Sean Michael Winters' quotes on postings that deal with Democrats and religion? Is he supposed to be a "slam dunk" or something?  I find his thinking to be particularly thoughtful and he makes grandious statements far too often. Let's read your words Josh.

Who cares what Dolan does? THe USCCB and the bishops are political operatives in the GOP.
Peter Sullivan | 8/23/2012 - 3:47pm
Josh, maybe you should read this before you start with the Spanish Inquisition/Pup Tent Catholicism schtick:
Tim O'Leary | 8/23/2012 - 12:57pm
I agree with the critics above that inviting Cardinal Dolan to speak at a convention, even if only to say an opening prayer, is a political act. But, I am all for it this year. Sometimes the contrast between the parties becomes so stark (abortion, homosexuality, marriage, adoption, ethical healthcare, religious freedom…) that the Church should have the courage to stand up against the oppressors, like they did with Solidarity in Poland or the Irish under the Penal Laws. Otherwise, history will judge them poorly. A stronger and unified opposition to one party in the Weimar Republic might have derailed or delayed the eventual disaster.

But I also agree that this kind of political alliance should be rare and temporary, provided the offending party doesn’t just double down in its hostility to the Church after the election.

Amy #15 I should have said orthodox Mormon. Harry Reid might be the best ever example of a token, being pro-gay and pro-abortion in every action while claiming to be otherwise. By the way, the NYT says he will be the keynote speaker to the LDS Dems ( I wonder who else was in the running. Maybe, Barbara Marx Hubbard turned them down. These efforts are like those of the other fraudulent groups ''Catholics for Choice'' or “Atheists for Jesus” - trying to muddy the waters to confuse the gullible and distracted.
Stephen SCHEWE | 8/23/2012 - 11:32am
Perhaps Cardinal Dolan will take advantage of this great opportunity to remind the Repubcans of the seamless garment of life as they return to the work of the campaign.  Surely he must be sensitive to the charge of favoring one political party over the other.

I wonder who will be opening and closing the Democratic convention in Charlotte?  There's nothing on their convention web site yet.
Marie Rehbein | 8/23/2012 - 11:30am
Re Amy#5: I watched this, and this priest sounds more like he's one of the candidates than that he's a spiritual leader.  He claims that socialism kills people, for example. 

If Dolan does something like this, he will do more than just "...alienate a large segment of Catholics from their church leaders".  He will have crossed a line of separation between Church and State that was set, not by the nation's founding fathers, but by Jesus. 

I think it would be good for the leaders of the Catholic Church to consider the reason for their existence - deeply consider it, not just assume it is about telling people how to live and using the people's government to force them to live that way.  Last I heard, capitalism was not the road to eternal life.
JOHN DRUMMOND | 8/23/2012 - 10:45am
Not only do the references to Cardinal Mahony's invocation fail to recognize that he was acting as the local ordinary, whereas Cardinal Dolan is not, but the links provided by David Smith are to pictures of Mahony at the swearing-in of Antonio Villaraigos as mayor of Los Angeles, the seat of Mahony's diocese.  The difference between Mahony's case and Dolan's case is clear, and it escapes me how Dolan's agreeing to offer this benediction can be seen as anything other than political.  Of course, that's nothing new for Dolan who is becoming a regular at right-wing Republican events (e.g., the upcoming Values Voter Summit).
Joshua DeCuir | 8/23/2012 - 10:09am
LAST week Dolan was a hero to Catholic Progressives for standing up to some conservatives who criticized his invitation to Pres. Obama to the Al Smith Dinner.

THIS week he's a GOP hack who's selling out the Gospel.

BOTH sides made the same arguments.  

Maybe Dolan isn't the problem.

JOHN SULLIVAN | 8/23/2012 - 10:00am
Dolan is indeed a shill for the Republicans, and for anyone to suggest that this is "simply a priest offering a prayer" is simply being disengenuous. The bishops don't speak to the gospel values, and certainly don't reflect the values of many catholics. In fact, they are becoming more irrelevant, I believe, to the majority of Catholics.
Helen Romero | 8/23/2012 - 9:39am
The difference between Cardinal Mahony giving the invocation at the Democratic National Convention in LA and that of Cardinal Dolan giving it in Florida is that the DNC Convention was done in Cardinal Mahony's ecclesiastical jurisdiction so therefore he's truly performing one of the priestly duties.  But Cardinal Dolan's jurisdiction is NY and also he's the head of the USCCB.  Doesn't Florida have its own archbishop who can do the same function as Cardinal Dolan's? 

Cardinal Dolan, alas, has also fallen into bad messaging, it may be good PR strategy for the RNC but not good for the Catholics.  C'est la vie!  Give to Caesar what is to Caesar...
T BLACKBURN | 8/23/2012 - 7:11am
Tampa, like Los Angeles, has a bishop of its own. Bishop Robert Lynch speaks well and can deliver an invocation as well or better than Cardinal Dolan. The bishop-shopping and admiratio implied in the Republicans' choice is a rather depressing manifestation of the climate of celebrity, which bishops can (in other circumstances) deplore.

Now if Bishop Lynch told the Republicans to take a hike, that would be one thing. But somehow I think he would be more respectful of the visitors to his diocese than they have been of him.
Vince Killoran | 8/24/2012 - 1:20am
A "half apology." Whoa, talk about cheap.

The answer to your questions are:

 1)it is important for the U.S. government to speak out against policial oppression/injustice (the GOP jumps on the administration for not doing so in other cases);

2)I don't know the answer to your second question but you seem certain that it is "no."

3)Your third point/question is. . .what-saracasm? The WH stated that Pussy Riot was offensive to some people. Why was that wrong to say?

In any case, why on earth is Dolan going around fishing for an invitation to pray at political conventions? This seems like a lame effort to be relevant.

Finally, I'm not as giddy about expensive reconstrutions of churches as you are. And I don't share your understanding of Christianity vanquishing communism in the USSR/Russia. BTW, have you ever visited Russia?
Carlos Orozco | 8/23/2012 - 11:41pm

I half-heartedly apologize for my comment at #35. That because I find this article to be a non-issue after Cardinal Dolan offered to also pray at the Democratic convention.

But that would probably make the top senior members of the current administration feel quite uncomfortable (President, Vice-President and Secretary of State), as the three have partial-birth abortion voting records in the Senate.

With respect to Pussy Riot and the White House communique:

1.-  What does the President gain by butting into Russian internal matters? How would Kremlin statements expressing "disappointment" on, say, White House stonewalling on congressional inquiry into Fast and Furious be received in Washington?

2.- Would the White House have been equally "concerned about the verdict and the disproportionate sentences" if the Pussy Riot band desecrated a synagogue of a mosque? Western media, its attention whores (singer Madonna and the likes) and politicians would not have been nearly as enthusiastic in the defense of the indefensible.

3.- Oh but at the W.H. they are gracious enough to understand that the group's behaviour was "offensive to some". Really??? You don't say!!! I am not Russian Orthodox but I was mad as hell.

A little history on the astonishingly beautiful Christ Savior Cathedral: it was erected as an offering of thanksgiving to God, from the czar and the Russian people, for the defeat of the Napoleonic army -that even occupied Moscow- before being almost completely aniquilated by the Russian army. In the 20th century, Stalin had it blown down so a giant monument to Lenin be constructed, which never materialized. The recently reconstructed cathedral is a replica of the first and, to Russian Christians, it now also represents the triumph of God over Communism.

I hope the above has enough facts for you.
Vince Killoran | 8/23/2012 - 9:15pm
Carlos has a fertile mind. Who else would take  the story of Cardinal Dolan at the GOP convention and make a hilarious assertion that President Obama endorses Pussy Riot's actions? Well done, especially with the attempt to link the LCWR to the band.

In case Carlos wasn't able to find the WH website and actually read the administration spokespersons comments, here they are: "The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted.  While we understand the group’s behavior was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system." And then, this from the State Department: "The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia,"
Cody Serra | 8/23/2012 - 7:17pm
Just one simple thought, apolitical. We certainly need prayer at both conventions.  I would be happier if instead of going himself to GOP convention, Card. Dolan would send a regular priest from any diocese.

A priest's prayer of a rank and file status has the same value before God than that of one from the Cardinal.  This choice will remove any doubts about endorsing one party or the other.

I wish the Hierarchy would listen to the laity!  Let's keep politics or an imge of partidism away from our Church.
David Pasinski | 8/23/2012 - 3:47pm
One might make the case from history that the local Ordinary offers a prayer at a convention. To have Cdl. Dolan do this, even with his role as Pres of USCCB, is clearly a political act on his part. I honestly don't see ow eventhose that support this type of action culd see it other.
Tom Maher | 8/23/2012 - 2:45pm
It is unrealistic folklore to expect the Catholic Church in America to be apolitical at any time in its history but especially in the 21st century when increasingly secular political forces are attempting to limit the freedom of religion in favor of secular causes such as policy making and legislation increasing goernment influence and control over religion.  For example, the HHS regulation mandate limited and redefined what a religious institution is and whom it may serve and required religious organization not in compliance to this governemnt imposed definaition of religion to act against its own teachings without accommodation.  The HHS regulation mandate needs to be politcally and legal bvigorously opposed.  The lack of religiious exemption will do long term harm tot he Church and its mission and generally limit the freedom of religion to define their own mission free of governement control. 

It would be insane for example for the Church to the silent in its opposition to abortion or any other moral issue under the threat of losing its tax exemption as is often threatened by political activist oppossed to the Church.  Such threats to limit the Church ability to speech and act are inherently politcal and must be vigorously politically oppossed.  
Thomas Piatak | 8/23/2012 - 2:40pm
Cardinal Dolan's spokesman has indicated that he would accept an invitation to pray at the Democratic convention.  I doubt he will receive such an invitation, though.
David Pasinski | 8/23/2012 - 12:27pm
Dolan's "benediction" that evening is a blatant political act.

 It is a tactical move than ushers in strategic failure for the constructive role the Church might have had in this higly charged year.

I think it is like those touted videos of certain Floridda vacations "Cardinal's ego goes wild... "

Now what if the Hurricane hits the same night?
Divine intervention?
Tom Maher | 8/23/2012 - 12:01pm
Cardinal Dolan's  accepted invitation to pray at the Republican National Convention is by itself a wonderful statement that Catholics can and do fully accept and participate in the Republican party as viable politcal alternative to the Democratic party.  Cardinal Dolan's presence reminds all Catholics that in the 21st century Catholics  have a choice of which parties to supporta and that the Democratic party can no longer take for granted.  Catholic folklore that they are automatically baptized into the Democratic party is made more obviously an anachronism that even the most cloistered Catholics will be made aware of. obsolete  automatic monopoly on Catholic's vote that  can be takeen for granted.  Cardinal Dolan presence at the GOP convention is a celebration of Religious Freeedom Catholics enjoy in America.  Catholics as amulti-party group has the politcal power to preserve the Religous and political freedom they are blessed by in America.  Dolan's pryer should be a prayer of long sort after thanksgiving for the blessings of freedom in America.  Catholics must give public thanks for our freedoms. 
John Barbieri | 8/23/2012 - 11:27am
Cut Cardinal Dolan some slack!
Cardinal Dolan is our fellow United States citizen.
He is free to say whatever he wants to whomever he wants.
And by the same token, no one has to listen to what he has to say.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 8/23/2012 - 11:14am
"Democrats will never have a Mormon come near their convention. They hate them even more than orthodox Catholics."

Somebody should tell Harry Reid. He's probably already booked a flight.

"So much for coherence or consistency!"

The difference is that Timmy is His Ponderous Corpulency's name, and Josef was Wehrmachtgefreiter Ratzinger's name, and Michael's name is not O'Laughlin.

Joshua DeCuir | 8/23/2012 - 10:03am
"The bishops don't speak to the gospel values, and certainly don't reflect the values of many catholics. In fact, they are becoming more irrelevant, I believe, to the majority of Catholics."

So you vehemntly disagreed with their public criticism of Ryan's budget?
Rick Fueyo | 8/23/2012 - 9:47am
"Unfortunately, I don't think they permit vocally pro-life speakers there, ever since they stopped Democratic Governor Casey of Pennsylvania speaking at their convention in 1992 because he wanted to give a pro-life speech."

That remains false, one of the lies that crowd propogates.  He was not allowed to speak because he would not endorse the nominee.  Harry Reid is Pro-Life; neither party is accomodating of the other side on this issue, but there is no GOP equivalent of Reid.

Helen otherwise has it exactly correct why the two appearances (Mahoney in LA in 200 and Dolan now) are not equivalent.  Abshp Dolan plinly wants to make the conference a partisan political actor - Ad Majorem GOP Gloriam. 

Joshua DeCuir | 8/23/2012 - 9:47am
In light of the vociferous criticism that Romney/Ryan has received from prominent Catholics on various national TV programs (with Sr. Simone recently charging that Romney believes poor people are "lazy" - nevermind you can't locate any such actual quote), let alone the USCCB letters criticizing the Ryan budget (and of course the long history of Catholic bishops being associated with, say, the Kennedys), I find this hand-wringing over excessive partisanship a bit, well, partisan. 

Does anyone really think Mahoney is a right-wing GOP shill? 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 8/23/2012 - 7:48am
Let's wait and hear the prayer. If it sounds anything like this:

then there is a clear-cut case for removing the Catholic Church's tax exemption and requiring it to register as a political lobby.

Maybe the Democrats should invite Thomas Monson to give a prayer. I'd bet he would sound a lot more coherent and Christian than Timmy Dolan will.
Tim O'Leary | 8/23/2012 - 7:44am
Wouldn't it be great if the Democrats invited Cardinal Dolan to speak at their convention too? Unfortunately, I don't think they permit vocally pro-life speakers there, ever since they stopped Democratic Governor Casey of Pennsylvania speaking at their convention in 1992 because he wanted to give a pro-life speech.

In today's world, nearly all the anti-Catholic bigots in politics have gathered into one party.
james belna | 8/23/2012 - 12:58am
Too bad that Mr O'Loughlin wasn't around for the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, so that he could have written that Cardinal Roger Mahony was endorsing Al Gore and the pro-abortion Democratic Platform when he delivered the invocation. I wouldn't say that, but that is because - unlike Mr O'Loughlin - I don't equate a prayer with an endorsement. Of course, it's not too late. Let's see if Mr O'Loughlin will be consistent and retroactively criticiize Cardinal Mahony with the same language he has used for Cardinal Dolan. I wouldn't count on it.
Tom Maher | 8/23/2012 - 9:29pm
Carlos is always an original thinker and refreshingly very well informed and insightful of what is going on in the world.  Carlos is not part of the herd put an independent original voice.  His opinions enrich the blog with fresh new content and perspective.  Thank goodness for Carlos.
Joshua DeCuir | 8/23/2012 - 4:09pm
"Josh, maybe you should read this before you start with the Spanish Inquisition/Pup Tent Catholicism schtick"

HUH?  Michael Sean Winters in the Grand Inquisitor?  
Joshua DeCuir | 8/23/2012 - 3:40pm
I think Michael Sean Winters says it best (for me anyway - as a recovering Democrat who left over the issue of religion):

"So, I have a message to my Catholic Democratic friends: Yes, the pictures of Cardinal Dolan standing on the platform with Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan will make you upset. But, should you blame the cardinal for this or should you blame your own party? It is, in the strictest sense of the word, a shame that only one political party can be counted on to recognize the significance of religion in American culture by inviting the most recognizable face of the Catholic Church to pray with them, but the shame belongs with the Democrats, not with the Republicans and certainly not with Cardinal Dolan."
Tim O'Leary | 8/23/2012 - 10:08am
Amy #5
Democrats will never have a Mormon come near their convention. They hate them even more than orthodox Catholics.

And what's with this ''Timmy Dolan'' or your recent ''Joey Ratzinger''? You made a great brouhaha for a misspelling of O'Loughlin's name a short while ago (comments to Michael's Aug 2 column), saying it was rude and puerile to deliberately mess with someone's name. You said only a total jerk would do it. So much for coherence or consistency!

As regards your frequent put-downs about the Cardinal's coherence, you are mistaking plain colloquial speaking with packaged eloquence (like our Teleprompter President). It might be useful for you to read Cardinal Dolan’s speech to the College of Cardinals in Feb (

Rick #8
Please check your sources before calling people liars. Harry Reid is not pro-life in any action he has taken as Senate Majority Leader. He wouldn't even let the ban on sex-selection abortion come up for a vote. He has received 100% rating from NARAL and 0% from the NRL. As regards your memory of the Casey snub, here is a review of what happened from a liberal source (defending the snub):