Comparing Card. Dolan's prayers
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
A few of us (I remember Amy and I at least) did think he might be boohed. It wasn't a prediction but a fear, and I'm glad my fears were not realized. Maybe, they used up their boohs and hisses on the God-in-the-platform vote the day before. Or, maybe the average Democrat delegate is less extreme and more respectful than the clerical critics on this blog, (which says something about the type of Christianity expressed here).
You said the Cardinal was ''desperately'' seeking a speaking engagement at the DNC, which was the opposite of the truth, in that he offered only to appease those accusing him of partisanship.
In any case, I stand by the quality of the prayer, and my astute comment.
No, Tim I didn't want a "treatise"-I didn't want him up at the podium in the first place. But the Cardinal is a clever guy and knows how to write a praryer to reflect his priorities. When he spoke to the GOP crowd on labor it was palaver.
But it was kind of fun to read that you found Dolan's prayers to be prize winning dissertation, i.e., the prayers "show the depth of the Cardinal's thinking, and the more astute observers can see his high intelligence and learning, of both the history of the country and the Church."
Oh good grief!
There's a lot of anger against the clergy & hierarchy out there-and plenty of reason for it. No need for finger wagging unless someone has gone over the line. In any case, clergy don't get a free pass or deference. Those days are gone (thank God).
Finally, I think Dolan wants to be a political player. I won't engaged in the same self-assessment as you and grade this as an "astute" comment since it has been widely observed.
I'm from Dearborn, MI. Do you support the public schools there-with a majority Muslim student body-taking time in the school day for teacher and coach-led Islamic prayer?
Thanks for the very good description on the difficulties the Democrats had trying to amend their party platform to include standard specific mention of God.
These difficulties were caught and recorded by live convention coverage demonstrates the Democrats have significant secular factions strongly oppossed to the mention of God. These secular factions are vastly-over represented in the Democratic party establishment.. Thes secular Democrats are a known major hazard to the Democratic parties credibility and trust with the public. ANd sure enough the platform commitee seeking to be secular got what they wanted in excess of public support. This was a major strategic blunder made known to all the world by the release of the party platform which was adapted on Tuesday.
However it was the public not the Democratic party that immeadiately caught and stroangly rected to the problem on the release of the party platform. The release caused an immeadiate public outcry which then alerted the party official that they had a major public relations exposure.. The big problem is that most Americans including most Democrats do expect God to be mentioned as a intergal part of our public and political life. The Democrats understaood the firestrom of disapproval at their failure to mention God would be an immeadiate major politcal issue if not immeadiaely addressed and corrected. The Democrats wasted no time or effort to promptly correct the error.
Oh, so it's not about religious freedom or righs, is it? It's about a majority religious group dominating civil society. I thought as much.
With respect to the DNC, which was the most potentially the most problematic of the two for the Cardinal, he was treated with more respected by the brain-washed crowed than by many of the "Catholic" commentators in this forum.
What does this distinction mean? It's a sort of periphrasis of the beginning of the Amidah "God of our fathers, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... " but what's up with the movable Jesus part?
Was the Republican form some concession to Mormonism? Or was the Democratic form a calculated provocation? Mentioning Jesus is noncontroversial, but appending "Christ" is somewhat more so. Why did he insist on "Christ" at the convention where there were sure to be a lot of non-Christians? Is it a dogwhistle that asserts America is a "Christian country?"
(Obviously, Dolan's just reading from the teleprompter, but some member of his staff put some thought into composing these prayers.)
With respect to the DNC which was, potentially, the most problematic of the two conventions for the Cardinal, he was treated with more respect by the brain-washed crowd then by many of the "Catholic" commentators in this forum.
I am very glad that our founding fathers insisted upon a separation of Church and State, and wonder why we keep trying to mix them up. I wish that Dolan had refused both invitations.
The Founding Fathers did not believe in your concept of separation, and it is nowhere found in the original documents (declaration, Constitution, etc.). They wanted religion to flourish and to enable that religious freedom, they ruled out the establishment of any religious denomination with the Federal Government. But, they were eager to have the benefits of prayers, opening and closing their meetings with them, and including exhortations to God in their speeches (see Washington's speeches, for example), supporting religious schools (as Jefferson did). even at the time, many States had Established Churches.
So, it is the current secular culture that has pushed for the removal of prayer from any public government gathering. They are trying to do something totally new, to separate American government from God, to make us a publically god-less nation. And the democratic platform is an example of that.
If prayer is central to your spirituality, I presume you think it is good. Why try to keep such a good away from people? If you are for free speech, why not be open to prayer at public events, and let everyone else be tolerant? Even if you think some prayers are foolish, why not be more tolerant, and not less so?
I write "almost' because I do not know of one who makes this claim- but I invite Tim or others to identify such a scholar. The only people that suture together this tissue of lies are the assorted amateur scholars, conservative writers, and assorted radio talk show hosts.
Jill Pore's NEW YORKER piece from '08 is a good synopsis of issue (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2008/04/14/080414crat_atlarge_lepore
Excuse me. What are you talking about ? What Tim O'Leaary said about the Founding Fathers and religion is common knoweledge extensively documented in the Constittuion and the Federalist Papers and otherwise written about during the 1789s to 1790s.
All of the Founding Fathers were well aware of the religious turmoil in Great Britain duringg most of the 1500s and 1600s. The kings and queens were very involved with religion. Well into the 1800s Catholics and Jews and other religions could not vote or hold governemnt office becuause of their religion. The Founding Fathers wanted to get away from religious intolerance and they specifically created freedom of religion - a toleration and non-involvment by the government in any religiions. They believed in governemnt non-involvment with religion period as written in the First Amendment. The concept of Freedom of Religion was created by the Founding Fathers as foundation of American constitutional goverenmnt since 1791.
I have no problem with any prayer from the heart, no matter how foolish. But big time political posturing disguised as "prayer" is intolerable.
Many so-called "secularists" understand this better than the Catholic bishops.
Yes, they did believe in Religious Freedom. But that is another thing (and not a blank check for religious groups to do anything they want, e.g., states are not required to accommodate Native Americans who seek to use peyote in their religious rituals).
Tom (#26) is right. You got my point backwards. And the hyper-secular New Yorker magazine doesn't really cut it as a scholarly source.
The founders consisted of Deists, Rationalists, at least one Catholic (Carroll) and mostly Protestant Christians. Some, like Benjamin Rush, did see America as a new Protestant nation, but not all (about a third had degrees in bible study or theology). In fact, if there was unanimity on the Protestant religious question, it is unlikely that they would have come out so hard for the non-establishment clause in the Bill of Rights.
Many secularist writers today make it sound like the purpose of non-establishment was to protect the government from religion, but it was the opposite. The Founders wanted to protect the more fragile religious freedom from the coercive power of government. While they didn't believe in the same religion, even the rationalists valued the social benefits of religion. John Adams, who turned Unitarian later in life, and was the most openly anti-Catholic in his writings, still was author of the famous quote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.'' If only we understood that now. But secularists today (believers and non-believers in God) are trying to establish Secularism as the State religion, and push others into the private sphere.
Beth #27 - hypocrisy is never good, wherever it is found. You may think secularists want to keep prayer out of the public arena only because they don't like heartfelt prayer. But, it is heartfelt prayer that they are most concerned about.
Why vote for the lesser of two evils?
Did you bother to read the NEW YORKER piece instead of dismissing it as "hyper-secular"? If you did you would see that Jil Lepore (one of the very best scholars on the Age of Revolution) argues that the Founders in fact were protecting religion from government- but also the government and civil society from religion.
Still, I'm pleased to read from your last post that you don't seem to be arguing that the Founders thought they were establishing a Christian state. I have no idea what you mean by "Secular State."
Funny (both meanings) but I think you might be right for the Green Party.
You have a way of missing the point and then trying to recover by assigning homework on a totally different topic. I am not arguing for a ''blank check'' for religious liberty, but for the reasonable accommodation to be able to practice the corporal works of mercy as my faith and Church defines them, not as the state defines them, turning abortion into a good and compelling pro-life Christians to support the killing. I also think the selective exclusion of (mostly Christian) religious ideas and concepts and beliefs from the protection of freedom of speech, in our public schools (that I have to pay for) and in other public places (that I have to pay for) is unjust. It is disheartening to see so many liberal Catholics not care about these issues anymore.
"I also think the selective exclusion of (mostly Christian) religious ideas and
concepts and beliefs from the protection of freedom of speech, in our public schools (that I have to pay for) and in other public places (that I have to pay for) is unjust. It is disheartening to see so many liberal Catholics not care about these issues anymore."
I have no idea what you mean by this. Are you arguing that public schools should set aside the school day for various religious groups to hold classes? Should the multitudes of faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, et al.) be allocated space and resources on school grounds to hold services? How would that work?
Your constant grousing that "you have to pay for it" even though you disagree with a policy or law seems to be a shallow way of opting out of democracy. Is the nub of your complaint that Catholics cannot opt out of civic obligations on the grounds that they interfer with the Faith? Sorry but you'll have to get in line behind the Quakers, Native Americans, Christian Scientists, Jehovah Witnesses, et al. who do not have a "blank check" on this.
Bingo. Your statement in # 29 is the key to understanding the problem of the misinterpretation of Religious Freedoms of the First Amendment by secularist for the last 100 years or so. You correctly state: "Many secularist writers today make it sound like the purpose of non-establishment was to protect the government from religion, but it was the opposite." This is exactly as you said the "backward interprretation" of the First Amendment Religious Freedom clauses.
There are numerous examples in history of faled attempts to apply the ideaa that governemnt somehow should not interact with religious insitutions. An example was some people objected to the 1948 GI Bill of Rights which gave veterans of WW II a benefit of paying for a college education. This benefit was use by millions of service vetrans.. About 40% of the U.S. vetrans were Catholics who wanted to use this benefit at a Catholic college. Lawsuits based on the nisinterpretation of the "non-establishment clause" were used to attempt to deny veterans benefits to vetrans attending Catholic Colleges. These cases were rejected by the courts. (This was also really bad politics right after a World War to restrict the use of a large group of veterans their well earned benefits.) The courts found that Catholics vetrans could use their GI benefits like anyone else at the college of their choice.
But these false "non-establishment case" are very frequent for the last 100 years and with it has grown a mentology around the phrase "separtion of Church and State" which by the way does not appear in the Constistuion but doctrine preventing real attempts by the governemnt to establsih or promote a religion.
Please be aware the Fiirst Amendment gives religious freedom legal rights to individuals and religions that should not be agrandized as "blank checks" or minimized as just an accomadation . Freedom of Religion is a well-established (over 200 years of precedents) and enforceable legal right that always do apply becasue of the U.S. Costitution says so. As Cardinal Dolan very correctly in a legal sense said Freedom of Religion is our first and most cherished freedom.
That's down right wrong-the courts have never given religious denominations/church the right to do whatever they please. See #33.
The "1948 GI Bill of Rights" is the "Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944" (aka, GI BIll). A great law-lots of government spending and promotion of higher education. The courts have viewed public monies for higher education in a somewhat different light than primary & secondary education. Even there they have placed limits, e.g., schools with racially discriminatory policies have been denied federal dollars.
The First Amendment begins with the words "Congress shall make no law ...." and then list the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly. No law means no law to the "establsihment of a religion' And no law abridging the "free exercise of religion". This is the definitive basis for keeping government out of religion. speech, press and assembly. The Constitution protects these freedoms from the goverenment not for religion.
The "freedom of religion" aspect has been balanced throughout our nation's history by countering claims of rights (e.g., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a couple who argued that they opposed blood tranfusions on religious grounds).
As for the your mantra that "the Constitution protects these freedoms from the goverenment not for religion" claim the best I can do is to refer you to the scholarship on this point but I don't think that will change your position.
Christians are not looking for a blank check, just fairness. Several years ago, the ACLU (the acronym also fits for Against Christian Liberties Union) was embarrassed when it was pointed out that their website quoted the first amendment without the religious free-exercise clause. Today, their website has the following: ''Religious Freedom Goes to School.'' But all the examples they are against are coaches, teachers saying prayers, especially out loud, even (horrors!) being involved in religious clubs. Then, way down, they have this (also'' phrase: Religious freedom also includes the right to hold and exercise religious beliefs'' which includes ''form religious or atheist clubs.''
This ''freedom from religion'' emphasis really stands out on the liberal side of our politics, and was evident from the floor at the Democratic convention. People can always be skeptical about self-serving politics, and decry the hypocrisy and selective historical interpretations, but there is plenty of this on both sides. In public school, children are exposed to all sorts of ideas, some delivered with strong advocacy, such as various sexual practices, anti-life politics, history through the lens of fashionable politics, extreme environmental hysteria, anti-market theories, general skepticism about religion and materialist philosophies of the world, etc. The good news is that many children can see through this bias and reject it (one silver lining of poor education in these schools). The one subject that is forbidden is any possible hint of advocacy of Christianity. Citizens should have the freedom to choose the schools that reflect their ideals, and not have to pay twice, to get it. It is simple fairness.
Vince #31 – here is an article from this week (UK) that uses the term “secular state” that you did not understand or hadn’t heard of. Maybe it’s not in the New Yorker lexicon.
I guess you didn't see either prayer by video as you would have seen that Cardinal Dolan did not use a teleprompter. He read it from a hand-held paper he took out of his pocket. It is very likely that neither party had any input into either prayer (they don't and even can't talk like that) and I bet the Cardinal wrote both prayers himself, as they share some style of his other prayers.
I think both prayers were of the highest spiritual caliber for such public and political occasions. They have great depth to them, are subtle and refined and provide a careful balance between respect for the thinking of the audience and the Christian mission of the Church in this ''City of Man'' (to use St. Augustine's phrase). They are well worth contemplating at length. They show the depth of the Cardinal's thinking, and the more astute observers can see his high intelligence and learning, of both the history of the country and the Church.
I was also impressed of the respect shown by the audience, at least those who were observable on TV. I think the last-minute invite by the Democrats was the right call.
Some speculated not unreasonably before the conventions that Cardinal Dolan himself or something he may say might antagonize some at either convention or more deeply divide the political process. But there was not even a hint of ill will at the conventions nor was there anything taken as antagonistic or divisive. Cardinal Dolan stated even-handedly the same faith perspectives to both conventions. Everyone respectfully accepted Cardinal Dolan's words as authentic to his beliefs and what one would expect of Catholic clergy represent the Catholic Church in America. This acceptance of course does not imply agreement in beliefs even among Catholics but demonstrates again the depth and breadth of religious tolerance in America even in political contexts. Cardinal Dolan and his message acceptance demonstrates to all who may have doubted it the robust viability of the Catholic Church in American politics, a very great political and religious achievement in a time of secular political culture actions to ignore, deny or limit the freedom of religion in favor of secular political causes.
That's it? That was all he had to say about the long and deep social teachings about labor's rights, support for collective bargaining, and the problems w/capitalism? Pretty weak.
Plus they wer too long in an attempt to be cmprehensive!
Perhaps part of teh prayer of St. Francis would have been better and remained with the delegates and been better TV clips....
That said, I think his comments at the DNC were to be expected, but speaking as one of those few and far between queer Catholics they were I felt a little hurtful and unnecessary- but that is a core disagreement between the Cardinal and myself and I would not have expected anything else from him. I am, however, disappointed that he did not challenge these unChristian values in the Republican platform.
Also, semantics though it may be, I agree that not saying the President's name at the RNC left the ease with which they had stigmatized him during their campaigns unchallenged. It is always important to remind ourselves that those we disagree with are people as well, who deserve our prayers and love as we try to rise above hate. That goes for all parties and situations, regardless of their position.t
I appreciate that the Cadinal extolled the virtues of public service and attempted to balance th Church's official line on many social issues, but I do think he misstepped in focusing on such divisive a nd hurtful issues at yhe DNC and not doing so at the RNC. I think he did not succeed in his bipartisanship.
Oh well, I suppose such nitpicking is expected on this site. Now back to the real labor problems, with this morning's bad jobs report and Wed's historic $16 trillion milestone national debt.
On the issue of un-Christian hate that Alexa brought up, it is amazing that three Democrats were not called out by the media for using Nazi insults, the most egregious being against the Indian-American Nikki Haley. http://stacyontheright.com/2012/09/05/a-third-nazi-reference-at-the-dnc-tolerance-rules/.
It was God who was in trouble there.
When the word was being passed around that the Democratic platform was omitting the scant reference to God that was in the 2008 version, Obama's handlers became concerned, and evidently quite a tussle developed within the party. Finally, Obama, we are given to understand, after consulting Gallup, Deity of the Voting Polls, made the call to put God back in the lineup. The problem remained that editing out the editing out of God from the party platform required a 2/3rds vote, something the anti-God wing of the party, long irritated by such right-wing nut jobs as Jefferson and his "endowed by our Creator" and Washington with his mention of God and Providence in his first inaugural address, would prohibit. So their spokesperson, up and coming Democratic star and mayor of San Antonio Villaraigosa, realizing that he couldn't get the necessary 2/3 of the votes, decided to go with an oral vote of ayes and nays, which is much easier to fake. Unfortunately, the Nays were clearly louder than the Ayes, so he decided to give it another shot. Same result. One more shot, same result.
The mayor, already skilled in Obamian Chicago machine style democratic politics, called it 3 strikes and yeer out. It passes! The no-God faction of the party, apparently appreciating being the victim of voter fraud no more than republicans do, raised a ruckus.
Unbelieveably, in this one brief instance, the democrats managed to demonstrate quite clearly that they have a very strong and active anti-God segment within the party, that they are quite willing to trash the central tenet of democracy, the integrity of the vote, for political gain, and that the new rising star, Mayor Villaraigosa, is happy to do the unethical bidding of his president and his party's leadership.
Bottom line: with the Democratic party, worry less about Cardinal Dolan being blackballed, and a lot more about God being evicted.
Your faux-nativism is telling on what you think your opponents believe. I happened to read that article just after you asked the question. Sorry it spooked you.
The ''secularism'' term today is typically used to describe an antagonism of religion outside houses of worship. So, the opposite would be a state that encourages religious practice. I don't want an established religion, but I do want a state that admits its ignorance in religious affairs and permits a wide space for religious practice, in the public square, in the corporal works of mercy, etc.
I of course would have no problem having teachers say Muslim prayers if most of the students were Muslim. I bet they do it already and no one bothers them.