The National Catholic Review

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will be back in the political limelight next month, part of a “diverse set of faith leaders” who will “offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in” of President-elect Donald J. Trump, the presidential inaugural committee announced on Dec. 28.

“Since the first inaugural ceremony, our leaders have paid tribute to the blessings of liberty that have been bestowed upon our country and its people,” said Tom Barrack, chairman of the committee.

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In a statement to America, Cardinal Dolan said he is “honored to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration” and looks forward “to asking Almighty God to inspire and guide our new President and to continue to bless our great Nation.”

The relationship between Mr. Trump and the New York archbishop is complicated.

Following Mr. Trump’s victory, Cardinal Dolan wrote an op-ed for Catholic News Service, outlining how the church and the new administration might work together on pro-life issues, expressing “some cautious optimism.”

He went on to praise promises made by Mr. Trump during the campaign, including the appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices and the enactment of conscience laws for health care workers opposed to abortion.

“We certainly hope that the policies pursued by the president-elect and his administration will match these promises,” he wrote. “In particular, we are eager to see immediate enforcement of federal conscience protections on abortion and elimination of the contraceptive mandate.”

But the cardinal has also taken issue with Mr. Trump’s hardline stances on immigration, including a proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

During the early stages of the campaign, way back in July 2015, he penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News, lamenting that “Nativism is alive, well—and apparently popular!”

He recalled a time in American history when many “believed the immigrant to be dangerous, and that America was better off without them. All these poor degenerates did, according to the nativists, was to dilute the clean, virtuous, upright citizenry of God-fearing true Americans.”

The “more enlightened and patriotic” view, he continued, is to see “the immigrant as a gift to our nation.”

The cardinal said he was “not in the business of telling people what candidates they should support or who deserves their vote.”

“But as a Catholic, I take seriously the Bible’s teaching that we are to welcome the stranger, one of the most frequently mentioned moral imperatives in both the Old and New Testament,” he continued.

In a Dec. 23 interview with Fox News, Cardinal Dolan predicted, “just as we had some conflicts with the president who is going out of office, I’m sure there’ll be some tension with the one coming through. That’s the nature of this.”

He described a previous sit-down with Mr. Trump as “comfortable” and “pleasant,” and he revealed that he had extended an invitation to the president-elect and his family to attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the cathedral, as well as another invitation to pray together in New York on the Sunday before the presidential inauguration.

Mr. Trump and his wife Melania attended Christmas services at an Episcopal church in Florida where they were married 11 years ago.

In October, Cardinal Dolan met with Mr. Trump and his wife Melania for a private conversation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York at the request of the candidate. The following month, the pair were reunited at the Al Smith Dinner in New York, where Mr. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton traded jokes while raising money for local Catholic charities.

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Cardinal Dolan is no stranger to the political spotlight. In 2008, he accepted invitations to pray at  both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

The inaugural weekend will also include an interfaith service at Washington’s National Cathedral. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, has been helping plan the event.

In addition to Cardinal Dolan, other faith leaders who will be on hand at the Jan. 21 inauguration include the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; prosperity Gospel preacher Paula White; and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America and author of The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

Show Comments (43)

Comments (hide)

Carlos Orozco | 12/30/2016 - 6:23pm

If during the inaugural ceremony Trump declares the end of the disastrous bipartisan policies of fostering color revolutions, regime change of independent governments and bankrupting perpetual warfare, then not only Cardinal Dolan can call that a worthwhile day. That would be REAL hope and change on day one.

Also, although many of the religious leaders in attendance will be of dubious seriousness, at least there will be no occult, Podesta-sponsored "spirit cookers" in the vicinity. At least non celebrating. We must always thank God for His protection.

Tim O'Leary | 12/30/2016 - 12:42pm

Cardinal Dolan would have been invited to the inauguration, no matter who won, since both were New Yorkers. It would have been churlish for him not to accept. Recall he was one of the more outspoken critics of Trump during the primaries. I too was a nevertrumper throughout the primaries and before the election but now I agree with President Obama that we should give Trump a chance to be successful for the sake of the country. And our nation certainly needs all the prayers it can get. Happy New Year!

Beth Cioffoletti | 12/30/2016 - 10:21am

I think this could be the beginning of the end of Cardinal Dolan's credibility. Or it could be his moment of reckoning. I'll be listening closely to what he says at the inauguration, if he reflects the vision of Francis for the Catholic Church in America. I want to see if he can challenge and lead in this new unknown territory where we find ourselves headed. He's going to be surrounded by charlatans. This is his chance.

Tim O'Leary | 12/30/2016 - 12:45pm

Crystal - You always find the most intolerant way to describe what the Church does. The money from the poor box was sent to a cemetery trust fund in 2007 to stop lawyers from grabbing it, as they had done successful shakedowns of several other dioceses. They get 30-50% of any settlement, whether the case has been proven or not. This year, Cardinal Dolan was praised for borrowing money to set up an independent program to allow alleged victims of sexual abuse to get compensation, even for abuse claims that are decades old.

It's amazing that there seems to be no program like this for those sexually abused in public schools, estimated to be 100 times more frequent than by Catholic priests. Their teachers' union and several politicians even tried in Philadelphia to get the statute of limitations extended only for Catholic institutions while shielding the public schools - later deemed unconstitutional. And SNAP was OK with the shielding of the public schools. Amazing!

Carlos Orozco | 12/30/2016 - 10:14am

I recall the Apostle Paul instructing to pray for those in power, so they do good. So why all the noise?

Frank McEvoy | 12/29/2016 - 10:53pm

Well, Pope Pius XII was called "Hitler's Pope."

Beth Cioffoletti | 12/29/2016 - 6:36pm

"Prosperity Gospel" preacher Paula White will also be "praying" at the inauguration. Rich = Holy. Quite a lineup.

Frank McEvoy | 12/29/2016 - 10:52pm

She's one of the heads of the First Church of Christ Meal Ticket.

Beth Cioffoletti | 12/30/2016 - 7:34am

What's that? (I googled it and nothing came up)

I looked up Paula White and it's hard for me to get an understanding of her (like Trump, himself). But she is a TV celebrity (like him). She appears to combine some form of Christian Evangelism with a Minstrel show. Thrown in with charity work and getting rich. (Trump isn't so great with the charity part.)

These are strange times for religion in America. Who knows where we are headed.

For now, the only thing that interests me in the inauguration is what Dolan will say and how he will say it.

Andy Tantillo | 12/31/2016 - 8:10am


Derrick Weiller | 12/29/2016 - 9:51am

Trump's first choice was a Jesuit:
but Jesuits value dignity and probity.
Trump had to settle.

Tim O'Leary | 12/30/2016 - 12:48pm

Derrick - what Jesuit did the Trump team want? Or is this a fake story?

Beth Cioffoletti | 12/29/2016 - 8:13am

Why do we need "prayer" at the Inauguration?

Vincent Gaglione | 12/29/2016 - 6:37am

I give Cardinal Dolan the benefit of the doubt regarding his acceptance of the invitation to read and/or pray at the Trump inauguration. He represents our faith community in doing so. To refuse the invitation would be impolite.

I do disagree however with the characterization that before and after the election the Cardinal spoke out on the issue of anti-immigration/refugee sentiment . I call the Cardinal to task for countering the anti-immigration rhetoric with lessons in American history and values in what he wrote. It seems to me that the Cardinal should have been addressing the issues regarding Catholic values and morality. I would have been more interested in having a letter from the Cardinal read at every Mass in the archdiocese before the election on the morality of the immigration issues. The weekly prayers of the faithful mention freedom of religious conscience. I don't hear so much the moral obligation to immigrants and refugees!

Crystal Watson | 12/29/2016 - 12:15am

Not surprising - Trump is who Dolan wanted as president. Fitting, I suppose, that a church guy who hid assets from sex abuse victims would participate in the inauguration of someone like Trump.

John Walton | 12/28/2016 - 11:12pm

Dolan would be equally easy praying with Trump/Obama...Johnson/Goldwater etc.,etc.

Criticize Dolan for this, you might as well criticize Christ on the cross for praying for the guy on the left and right.

Can I be less subtle?

Carlos Gopez | 12/28/2016 - 11:01pm

Your Eminence,

Reading the negative comments opposing your patricipation in President-elect Trump's inaugaration, it reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew:

"As he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mt 9:10-13)

Andy Tantillo | 12/29/2016 - 6:21pm

Of course he should pray for Trump. Every day. But the inauguration is a huge, internationally symbolic ritual. His participation will viewed as tacit church approval of the platform of hate Trump ran on.

Ryder Charles | 12/29/2016 - 9:32pm

That's like saying that if Dolan prayed at Hillary Clinton's inauguration that the Church would be giving tacit approval of her full support for abortion rights.

Andy Tantillo | 12/31/2016 - 8:12am


Ryder Charles | 12/30/2016 - 1:36pm

Hillary, like Trump, is a one percenter. Virtually every Fortune 100 CEO supported her candidacy as did the banks and Wall Street. The rich Hollywood elite supported her as did the MSM. Her husband has been accused of sexual harassment (including rape) by a number of women. Several of the women stated that they felt Hillary pressured them to keep their mouths shut. The email security scandal was gross incompetence at best. Many people thought she badly mishandled Benghazi. Although all politicians have reputation as being liars, Clinton is regarded by many as a serial liar.

Trump was a terrible candidate and a lout. Many people simply felt that HillaryClinton was worse. We know that unrestricted access to abortion would continue under Clinton. For those who think this is a marginal issue let's remember that Pope Francis recently called abortion "a horrendous crime". The fact that support for a "horrendous crime" is "in the mainstream of America political values" shows that our political system and culture is suffering from a spiritual disease.

Andy Tantillo | 12/31/2016 - 8:11am


James MacGregor | 12/29/2016 - 3:28pm


Ryder Charles | 12/29/2016 - 11:53am

You're absolutely right, Carlos. These negative comments are Pharisaic.

alan macdonald | 12/28/2016 - 10:55pm

An electorate always gets the representation it deserves.

Mike Evans | 12/28/2016 - 10:46pm

Mr. Putin attending, Cardinal Dolan praying. What a pair to draw to.
This is Trump's convoluted attempt to validate his election. No chance.

Lisa Weber | 12/28/2016 - 8:41pm

It is offensive for Cardinal Dolan to pray at the inauguration because it implies endorsement of Donald Trump. Trump is an admitted sexual assailant, a bigot whose hate-filled rhetoric has lowered the standard of public discourse, a blatant liar and a president-elect who will not put his businesses into a blind trust in order to avoid conflicts of interest. There is no justification for taking part in the inauguration other than toadying to power. Cardinal Dolan shames the Catholic Church by doing this.

Nancy Walton-House | 12/28/2016 - 8:18pm

Disappointed in Cardinal Dolan again.

Rudolph Koser | 12/28/2016 - 8:33pm

Where will Dolan be when he finds out he's been conned by this moral reprobate? Maybe trying to get the stink off. How long till this man will retire?

GINO | 12/28/2016 - 6:14pm


The usual suspects—the never-Trumpers—are predictably getting ready to crawl out of their rabbit holes to spew their venom upon the decent folk of America who elected Donald Trump president of this country. A little bit of humility on their part would help a lot.

Lisa Weber | 12/28/2016 - 9:35pm

I am aware that many decent people voted for Donald Trump. What I can gather from talking to them is that they were either uninformed or misinformed. That decent people voted for the man does not make him admirable, capable, or suitable as a president-elect. Outrage is the most suitable response to his being president-elect. I don't know why anyone would be calling for humility as a response.

GINO | 12/29/2016 - 10:03am


Of course, Lisa! How could I have overlooked that! You say you talked to them (63 million) and you “gather from talking to them that they were either uninformed or misinformed.” Something tells me that you go to bed at night whispering the Pharisee’s prayer: “God, I thank thee that I am not like other people: ‘uninformed and misinformed, one of those ‘deplorables’ or ‘irredeemables.’ I belong to the ruling class, to the elites of society. I’m one of those coastal Americans. I live in a gated community, where people read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, send their kids to the best universities and take expensive family vacations to exotic countries.”

Lisa Weber | 12/29/2016 - 9:29pm

I find your estimation of who I am and how much money I have amazing and rather flattering.

Mike Evans | 12/28/2016 - 10:48pm

Only those seeking special favors or positions in the Trump administration.

Kenneth Michaels | 12/28/2016 - 5:33pm

Dolan's falling all over this opportunity to ingratiate himself.

JOHN SALVATI | 12/28/2016 - 5:30pm

Amen, Michael!

MICHAEL GRIFFIN | 12/28/2016 - 4:54pm

Why is it not surprising that Cardinal Dolan will be praying at Trump's inauguration? Instead of the smell of the sheep, it's the smell of money and power!

Michael Caputi | 12/29/2016 - 2:38pm

Amen! Amen!

ed gleason | 12/29/2016 - 10:55am

Someone should remind Cardinal Dolan that Hillary started to lose the election when she accepted the invitation to Trump's 3rd wedding. At 16, all should know that when you dance with a creep you will be groped.

Beth Cioffoletti | 12/30/2016 - 10:19am

Indeed, Ed. I think this could be the beginning of the end of Cardinal Dolan's credibility. Or it could be his moment of reckoning. I'll be listening closely to what he says at the inauguration, if he reflects the vision of Francis for the Catholic Church in America. I want to see if he can challenge and lead in this new unknown territory where we find ourselves headed. He's going to be surrounded by charlatans. This is his chance.