Cardinal Dolan to Deliver Closing Prayer at GOP Convention

National   Steven Ertelt   Aug 23, 2012   |   3:26PM    Washington, DC

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, a strong pro-life advocate who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will deliver the benediction at the Republican National Convention on the night Mitt Romney accepts the GOP nomination.

The symbolism is important as Romney works to reach Catholic voters in swing states to defeat pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

“This is not a partisan appearance. This is simply to do what a priest should do, which is to pray,” Joseph Zwilling, Dolan’s spokesman, told The Post. “He’s going to pray. He’s not going to give a convention speech.”

Still, Dolan’s appearance is important as the leader of the New York Archdiocese and the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is one of the leading critics of Obamacare and the pro-abortion mandate forcing religious groups to pay for abortion-causing drugs.

Thomas Peters of CatholicVote, a pro-life group that has endorsed Romney, applauded the move.

“I haven’t weighed in on the Al Smith controversy. Both sides make good arguments, but my hope is simply that we can do everything possible to maintain Catholic unity going into November and that, because Obama’s invitation to the dinner can’t be taken back at this point, we should make the best of it and learn lessons from it if we can,” he said. “That said, critics of Obama’s appearance at the Al Smith dinner should be happy to find out that Cardinal Dolan has consented to give the closing benediction at the GOP Convention in Tampa right after Mitt Romney gives his acceptance speech on the same stage.”

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“In 2008 when Barack Obama won I predicted there would not be a good relationship between the White House and the U.S. Bishops during the Obama administration, and that proved to be true,” he added. “I now predict that if Mitt Romney wins the White House in 2012 there will be a very healthy relationship between a Romney administration and the U.S. Bishops, led by a close working relationship between Cardinal Dolan and President Romney. That’s all I say. But I think that means a lot when compared to what we have now.”

A Romney ad this month featured the late Pope John Paul II and accused Obama of a “war on religion.”

“Who shares your values?” the ad  asks. “President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.”