Dolan: Democratic Party abandons Catholics, favors abortion agenda

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan attends the St Patrick's Day parade in New York City March 17. (CNS photo/Jeenah Moon, Reuters)

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The once "big tent" of the Democratic Party "now seems a pup tent" as a party that Catholics once embraced has abandoned so many issues Catholics cherish, such as the sanctity of human life and religious education, said New York's cardinal.

He pointed to the party favoring a radical abortion agenda over protecting the human rights of unborn children and all-out efforts to block education credits to help poor and low-income families access Catholic and other nonpublic schools.


"The Democrats Abandon Catholics" reads the headline on a March 23 op-ed by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan in The Wall Street Journal.

"I'm a pastor, not a politician, and I've certainly had spats and disappointments with politicians from both of America's leading parties," he wrote. "But it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us."

"The dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby's civil rights" are "widely embraced by Catholics," he said. "This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, 'We Catholics don't trust those Republicans.'"

"A cause of sadness to him," Cardinal Dolan said, is that "the needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb have largely been rejected by the party of our youth."

A couple of recent events, the cardinal said, brought to mind "two towering people who had a tremendous effect on the Archdiocese of New York and the U.S. more broadly" -- Archbishop John Hughes, the first archbishop of New York (1842-1864) and the funeral of "a great African-American woman, Dolores Grier," a convert to Catholicism, who became vice chancellor of the archdiocese.

"It saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us," Cardinal Dolan said. 

"Their witness is worth remembering, especially in this political moment," he said.

For the cardinal, the March 17 feast day of St. Patrick -- patron saint of St. Patrick's Cathedral and the archdiocese -- recalled Archbishop Hughes' "dramatic reverence for the dignity of Irish immigrants."

"Thousands arrived daily in New York -- penniless, starving and sometimes ill -- only to be met with hostility, bigotry and injustice." The archbishop, himself an immigrant, "defended their dignity."

"Because the schools at the time were hostile to these immigrants, he initiated Catholic schools" to give the children a good education "sensitive to their religion" and to prepare them to be "responsible, patriotic citizens." The mission of today's Catholic schools remains "unchanged."

Grier, the first woman to be archdiocesan vice chancellor, was "passionate about civil rights, especially the right of babies in the womb." She always noted "abortuaries," he said," were clustered in poor black and brown neighborhoods."

The values espoused by these two prominent Catholic figures were -- and still are -- widely embraced by Catholics, Cardinal Dolan wrote.

He also noted that last year "an esteemed pro-life Democrat in Illinois, Rep. Dan Lipinski, effectively was blacklisted by his own party" when Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez "insisted that pro-life candidates have no place in the modern Democratic Party."

He said that in the state of New York in particular, these issues important to Catholics have been hit hard as "in recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children."

"Opposing the bill reduces the ability of fine Catholic schools across the state to continue their mission of serving the poor, many of them immigrants," Cardinal Dolan said.

In closing, Cardinal Dolan said that it was difficult to have to write about the Democratic Party abandoning Catholics: "To Archbishop Hughes, Dolores Grier and Grandma Dolan, I'm sorry to have to write this. But not as sad as you are to know it is true."

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Edward Graff
10 months ago

Cardinal Dolan’s opinion piece would carry more weight if it acknowledged that Democrats just elected a prolife candidate, Lamb, to Congress in Pennsylvania and another, Lipinski, just won his primary in Illinois.

Here’s what the Cardinal is really concerned with: GOP candidates are facing headwinds this fall. A Democrat-controlled House will squash the Conscience Protection Act, which would "protect" physicians and hospitals from being sued for refusing to provide abortions. It's unclear to me how many doctors face this problem. Also the Church has made a practice of firing LGBT employees as they discover them and has been looking for additional legal freedom to do that.

Second, Catholic schools stand to benefit from Betsy DeVos’s proposed taxpayer funded government handouts. I don’t have an issue with Catholic schools but I don’t see why the government should provide a funding backstop. If the Church has billions to spend on sex abuse settlements then funding the schools should be easy. (edited to include the name of the legislation the bishops are supporting.)

Criss Cole
9 months 4 weeks ago

First of all Edward, you're wrong. Connor Lamb was not a pro-life candidate. He "personally" believed abortion was wrong but refused to let that affect his voting record. That's like me "personally" being opposed to slavery, but getting cold feet when it comes to voting on the issue. That's called an inherent evil and he better let his pro-life "personal" views affect his voting record before calling himself pro-life.
Second, nurses and other medical physicians all around the nation are being forced to participate in life-ending activities with the threat of losing their job. It's already abhorrent that these activities (euthanasia, abortion) go on in the first place and an individual shouldn't have to participate in this. I shouldn't have to explain the ethics of it all to you.
Third, the Church does not have billions to spend on sex abuse settlements and never has spent billions. Stop blowing this out of proportion and fight the public school system which is 100x more likely to sexually abuse a child then a priest is.

Edward Graff
10 months ago

Sorry for the second post, but citing Archbishop Hughes and Dolores Grier in an effort to justify voting for a party that has openly declared war on immigrants, women, and people of color is the height of crass cynicism.

Mary Giordano
10 months ago

There are problems with both parties. The USCCB provided a document in 2007 called Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship. In 2012, the bishops also wrote “It does not offer a voter’s guide, scorecard of issues or direction on how to vote. It applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to “conscience” to ignore fundamental claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.” If the 2007 document and this 2012 follow-up statement is to hold true, this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal is inappropriate.

Lisa Weber
10 months ago

Cardinal Dolan can criticize the Democratic party, but can he say anything positive about the Republican party? I find little to like in the corruption and outright meanness of the Republican party toward immigrants and refugees.

Mike Macrie
9 months 4 weeks ago

Agree, Cardinal Dolan in his support of the Republican Party leads many Democrats to believe they are not welcome in the Catholic Church.

Barry Fitzpatrick
10 months ago

The good Cardinal is on the Mark with his critique of Democrats, but he holds his tongue quiet on the big picture and the whole story. Did he pen a similar piece in the WSJ when Republicans savaged all hope of genuine immigration reform, or is he he one more single issue prelate polarizing us Catholics? It would be good to see the hierarchy get out of bed with the Republicans and take aim at the glaring inconsistencies of both major parties when it comes to a consistent ethic of protecting life at all stages. Again, the Cardinal addresses a genuine concern, but he raises an equally serious one when he implies support of the “other” side by his silence.

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