Prominent U.S. Catholic leader Timothy Dolan will be one of six clergy to speak or read scripture during Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Dolan, a cardinal from New York and a strong pro-life advocate, received an invitation to participate, along with well-known Protestant leader the Rev. Franklin Graham, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Pastor Paula White, according to the Washington Post.
Notably, Hier is the first rabbi to be invited to speak at a presidential inauguration since Ronald Reagan’s second term 32 years ago; and White is the second female clergy member ever to receive an invitation, according to the report.
Dolan said he was “honored to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration,” and he is looking “forward to asking Almighty God to inspire and guide our new President and to continue to bless our great Nation.”
In the months prior to the election, Dolan emphasized the importance of right to life issues for Catholics. In October during Respect Life Month, he told Catholics that defending the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person should be their first priority.
Trump faced some criticism from Dolan and several of the other clergy invitees prior to the election. Dolan, Rodriguez and Graham took issue with Trump’s statements on immigration, women and other issues. However, these prominent religious leaders also emphasized to Christians that the issues of abortion and assisted suicide should take top priority.
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In the months leading up to the election, Graham traveled across the United States to urge Christians to get out and vote, and to keep pro-life principles at the front of their minds when they considered the candidates.
“Beware, because the next president isn’t going to nominate one [U.S. Supreme Court justice]. It could be three, four, possibly five. And that would change the courts of our nation for the next 50 years or longer,” Graham said.
Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, also addressed the issues of abortion and immigration in October.
“Donald Trump speaks of building a wall but Hillary Clinton has already built one. The Democratic candidate’s abortion stance … serves as a greater wall than any rhetorical, hypothetical or physical wall,” he wrote in an email to supporters.
Some have questioned the sincerity of Trump’s pro-life beliefs, given that he once identified as “pro-choice” on abortion. However, the president-elect’s choices of strong pro-life leaders, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, for his administration have helped to reassure many voters that he will work to protect babies and moms from abortion.
His inauguration committee’s selection of prominent pro-life religious leaders appears to be another small but not insignificant sign that pro-life values are important to the in-coming leaders of America.