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