Obama Rejects Catholic Leader for Democratic Convention Prayer

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2012   |   3:05PM   |   Washington, DC

Timothy Cardinal Dolan will deliver the benediction at the Republican Party convention but, in a slight to Catholics, pro-abortion President Barack Obama rejected Cardinal Dolan’s similar offer of a prayer at the Democratic convention.

Dolan told Democrats he would be “grateful” to deliver a blessing in Charlotte, according to the New York Post, but Obama turned him down.

Dolan — considered the top Catholic official in the nation, as head of the Archdiocese of New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops — tipped off Democrats a few weeks ago that he had agreed to deliver the prime-time benediction at the Republican convention in Tampa next week, Dolan’s spokesman Joseph Zwilling told The Post.

As the Post reported:

“He wanted to make sure that they knew that this was not a partisan act on his part and that he would be just as happy and grateful to accept an invitation from the Democrats as he would to have received one from the Republicans,” said Zwilling.

“He has not been contacted by them” since, he added.

A senior Obama campaign official said yesterday that the Democrats would have a “high-ranking” Catholic at the convention, but indicated the arrangements weren’t yet final.

“I can’t announce it because the person hasn’t got their plane ticket,” said the official.

Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher would say only, “The Catholic clergy will be an important part of a diverse community of interfaith leaders represented in Charlotte.”

The symbolism of Cardinal Dolan praying at the Republican convention 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.”

“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.”