Last year was Trump and Clinton. Now Paul Ryan will address black-tie Catholic dinner.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, where he said President Donald Trump is still seeking a legislative solution to replace to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, where he said President Donald Trump is still seeking a legislative solution to replace to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will deliver the keynote address next month at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a black-tie event that raises money for Catholic charitable groups and annually attracts the highest-level U.S. political figures.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican who speaks frequently about his Catholic faith, will yuk it up with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and “deliver the evening’s principal speech in the spirit of collegiality and good-humor that is a hallmark of the annual gala,” according to a statement from the Archdiocese of New York.


The archdiocese highlighted Mr. Ryan’s “commitment to empowering local organizations in the community” and his involvement in his home parish in Wisconsin.

Paul Ryan has clashed with Catholic leaders in recent months

Mr. Ryan has clashed with Catholic leaders in recent months, especially over his so-far unsuccessful efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for championing a budget blueprint that would shrink the social safety net. He is a frequent target of NETWORK, the social justice organization led by Sister Simone Campbell, and he was challenged by another Catholic sister during a CNN event earlier this summer.

Still, Mr. Ryan is popular with other Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Dolan. During a radio interview he conducted with Mr. Ryan in 2014, the New York archbishop described himself as a “fan” of Mr. Ryan, calling him “a man of deep principles and sincere Catholic faith” and “a great ally” on pro-life issues.

During presidential years, the dinner often plays host to the Democratic and Republican nominees. Last year’s dinner included speeches from Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton and was an opportunity for the candidates to trade barbs with one another just a couple of weeks before the election.

This year’s dinner, which will be held Oct. 19, will be emceed by actress Patricia Heaton. The “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle” actress has been vocal about her Catholic faith, including during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in which the pair engaged in a “Catholic throwdown.”

The dinner’s namesake, Alfred E. Smith, was a governor of New York and the first Catholic to be nominated for the presidency by a major party.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
3 weeks 4 days ago

You can tell America the magazine's, view of Ryan by the photo they chose.

Robert Klahn
3 weeks 4 days ago

Yes, they showed him as he is.

Robert Klahn
3 weeks 4 days ago


Lisa Weber
3 weeks 4 days ago

It is shameful to give Paul Ryan a place of honor after all his attempts to take healthcare away from millions in the USA. I am appalled that Cardinal Dolan would call himself a "fan" of Mr. Ryan's. I hope the Church is not mystified by why people leave it.

Christopher Lochner
3 weeks 4 days ago

I'm not too surprised to see this "power romance" continuing. Remember, Paul Ryan was quite the devotee of atheist and late power player proponent Ayn Rand at least until it became a political liability. Cardinal Dolan also appears to enjoy his power and media attention (in NYC can you ever get enough?). I do believe the old adage about a leopard not changing its stripes, so why are we surprised at Paul and his viewpoints? Power is arrived at through merit (usually not) and now Messrs. Ryan and Dolan can bask in this wonderful and adorative glow while appearing before their very well placed minions. Perhaps a round of autographs and photo ops will be given to the faithful. And, it is truly sad when faith is code for Power but, again, unsurprising as this is the nature of sin.

Robert Klahn
3 weeks 3 days ago


Otherwise you hit it right on.

Christopher Lochner
3 weeks 3 days ago

D'oh. Shouldn't try to post so late in the day. ;))

Joseph Curtin
3 weeks 3 days ago

How well I remember Speaker Ryan praising Ayn Rand when the film version of "Atlas Shrugged" was released. "One of the greatest books of all time......required reading for all my interns" Then shortly after, Rand became "contrary to his (Ryan's) beliefs as a Catholic". Evidently he had never read (or even worse, didn't understand) Atlas Shrugged. One need only read the last few lines of the book to see that Rand has replaced the Sign of the Cross with the Sign of the Dollar. 'It seemed to be calling and waiting for the words John Galt was now to pronounce.
"The road is cleared," said Galt. "We are going back to the world."
He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.'

Joseph J Dunn
3 weeks 3 days ago

Michael O'Laughlin does faithfully report the purpose (raising funds for charities that address, particularly, children in need) and the long history of speakers and honorees (Happy Warrior awards). But it is difficult to overstate the social prominence and importance of the event. Corporations, big law firms, etc., pay huge sums to buy tables, to which they invite their favorite customers. The dinner seats are MUCH sought after in New York City. To draw that crowd, and raise the large sums for charity, the successive Cardinal-Archbishops of NY have invited a vast array of notable speakers, of every political and business stripe.
The invitation to speak is not an endorsement. No beatifications or canonizations are conferred. And the speakers usually spend much of their time in humorous badinage, very little on important issues. Having attended a few of these dinners, a few decades ago, I think it important to recognize the dinner for the good that it is and does.

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 3 days ago

Delighted to see Speaker Paul Ryan selected for this event. As the Speaker of the House, he certainly has the rank. Moreover, he is one of the few Catholic political leaders in the country who is genuinely trying to advance what he thinks is best for the American people, according to his understanding of Catholic principles of subsidiarity and solidarity and a preferential option for the poor. That certainly includes a better healthcare financing system, which many across the political spectrum agree is sorely needed. People of good will can disagree how best to care for the most vulnerable in our nation. Some think higher taxes and more centralized (i.e. federal) government spending is always better, especially those with a socialist bias, and others think more people are aided by lower taxes and more money spent locally and closer to the individuals (believed by those with a more capitalist bias). But, no one can honestly (I mean honestly) say that Paul Ryan is not trying to follow the Catholic faith as he sees it. He is such an authentic person. And his reunion with Steve Scalise (shot a few months ago by a Bernie Sanders volunteer) yesterday was full of heart-felt emotion and love. God bless him.

Charles Erlinger
3 weeks 3 days ago

When you say that Ryan has supported a " a better healthcare financing system," do you mean a better way of allocating financing or a better way of generating financing? And how is "better" measured? Does adequacy of meeting the need factor into the grading of the financing system? Or is the need defined as that which is being financed?

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 1 day ago

In my use of the term above, I mean a better system of insurance, that optimizes quality, access and cost. In America, we already have the highest quality of care, but we have moderate problems with access and major problems with cost. It seems impossible to optimize all three but, introducing more competition and rules against monopolies should bring the prices down over time, without inhibiting the discovery of new medicines (50% of all the world's R&D is done in the US, an amazing number), and increasing access via efficient insurance financing methods, again with a lot of competition. Access also requires a good safety net. Ryan is for all those. As an aside, nations with so-called national health systems have optimized cost at the expense of quality (the UK has a NICE office that limits the availability of novel treatments) and access (in both the UK & Canada, long waiting lines for non-emergent conditions are the rule and people suffer or even die while waiting).

Rudolph Koser
3 weeks 3 days ago

At least this year's speaker is a "Catholic."

Vincent Gaglione
3 weeks ago

During my lifetime I have worked with and known many non-Catholics, even agnostics and atheists, whose attitudes and treatment toward their fellow human beings were far more Christ-like than some of my fellow Catholics. That fact always gives me pause.

More: US Politics

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol, poses with his book about the activist on Aug. 24 in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo, File)
A judge has overturned a finding of suicide and ruled that Ahmed Timol was murdered by South Africa’s Security Police 45 years ago.
Anthony EganOctober 23, 2017
Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.
Texas bishops: "No one -- the government, private individuals or organizations -- should be forced to be complicit in abortion."
Catholic News ServiceOctober 23, 2017
It is time for the laity to speak out and act like true disciples of Christ in spreading the joy of the Gospel. 
Thomas J. ReeseOctober 23, 2017
Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican as he addresses Canadian youths in a video message that was included in a Salt and Light Television program on Oct. 22 (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Press Office).
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties," the pope said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 23, 2017