Total Pageviews

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dolan to Offer Prayer at Democratic Convention, Too


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week's Democratic National Convention, following through on a promise that he made when accepting the same role at the Republican convention.

His appearance before the Democrats in Charlotte, N.C., which was announced Tuesday by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, may lead to one of the most intriguing tableaus of this convention season. Cardinal Dolan, an opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage who is among the Catholic bishops suing the Obama administration over its contraception health care mandates, will bless a gathering of thousands of delegates who passionately disagree with him.

Cardinal Dolan is scheduled to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican convention on Thursday night, after Mitt Romney accepts the nomination as the party's presidential candidate. He had said that his appearance should not be seen as partisan and that he would accept an invitation to pray with the Democrats as well.

“It was made clear to the Democratic convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform or candidate,” Joseph Zwilling, the spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, wrote in a statement released on Tuesday.

In recent years, Catholics have emerged as an important swing vote. Long predominantly Democratic, Catholics have increasingly shifted to the Republican Party, drawn by conservative positions on social issues.

Though a pointed critic of the Obama administration, Cardinal Dolan frequently speaks about the importance of engaging with those one disagrees with. On Monday, he even issued a challenge to the Democratic and Republican candidates for president and vice president, asking them to sign a pledge to behave “with civility” this election season.

That pledge, written by the Knights of Columbus, asks the candidates, as well as the media, special-interest advocates and other commentators, “to employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities.”

Cardinal Dolan raised conservative eyebrows several weeks ago when he announced that he had decided to invite both President Obama and Mr. Romney to the annual Al Smith Dinner, a charity event in New York in October.

He was inundated with stacks of angry mail after issuing that invitation, he said, many letters from opponents to abortion who believed he was offering a stage to someone they think is complicit in the deaths o f unborn children. In 2004, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, then archbishop of New York, declined to invite the presidential candidates to the dinner because of his concern about the positions held by the Democratic nominee for president, Senator John Kerry, a Catholic.

But two weeks ago, Cardinal Dolan wrote on his blog in response to those critics: “It's better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one.”