Kathryn Jean Lopez had a chance to chat with Cardinal Dolan in Tampa, and he shared his thoughts about the conventions and the Al Smith Dinner:
“I am just hoping that a more conciliatory posture might especially be a light to the world and salt to the earth in a time when divisiveness and almost a hyperbolic partisanship seem to have overtaken the American political process,” he told me. And, he added, “if anyone should try to give a sense of bridge-building, I would hope it would be the Church. And so when both invitations came in, I seized them.”
“In the human spirit,” the cardinal of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops observed, “the two things, I believe, that are most noble” are, first of all, supernaturally, “to pray” and, naturally, “to have a meal with people.” He expressed his worry that “if we begin to politicize those two very noble ventures, then we are really in trouble, and I don’t know when we’re ever going to achieve any kind of progress or dialogue or advancement of the human project.” His prayer is that “to pray at both conventions is advancing the cause of unity. To have a meal with the two candidates at the Al Smith Dinner, I hope, is advancing the cause of unity.”
“We also pray for conversion,” he offers, and that is part of his prayer, too. “Because there are things with the Republicans that some Catholics have reservations about. There are certainly things with the Democrats, as you pinpointed [abortion], that Catholics have great reservations about. And so to pray for that spirit of conversion in each, I think, is not a bad thing.”
“Just because we pray with someone or we eat with someone doesn’t mean we agree with them,” Cardinal Dolan underscored. “I’ve prayed with people on death row, and I certainly don’t approve of what they’ve done or what they stand for. But it’s still something that I feel I am called to do. It’s my vocation as a pastor.”
“I think part of the credibility of the Church comes in its desire to be impartial and to stand above partisan politics,” Dolan explained. “If we are too dramatically identified with either party, that gives the other one ammo to whittle away at our credibility. If we can give the impression that these Catholic leaders — this Catholic community — are doing their best to be open and fair, and attentive to both sides,” they may more easily see that “we are obviously not in it to advance any partisan platform, we are in it for principles. We’re in it for Biblical principles. We’re in it for the very principles of natural law upon which this great republic was constructed,” he told me. “If we can try our best to at least say we are open to both, we welcome an approach to both, we open the doors to both, that may give us more credibility in the presentation of our principles.”
There’s much more. Read it all.