Breaking Bread With the Enemy: The Al Smith Dinner

“So he’s given us a year to figure out how to violate our consciences…”

“You’ve got a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the church…”

–Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

Cardinal Egan welcomes President George W. Bush and Al Gore

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has been an outspoken critic of the health care mandate imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, requiring all businesses (even Catholic organizations) to offer free contraception and abortifacients as part of basic health care for their employees.

Under Cardinal Dolan’s spirited leadership, Catholics have rallied:  More than 130,000 participated in two nationwide rallies in the Spring of the year, expressing concern and outrage over the government’s intrusion into the conscience rights of churches and individuals of faith.  Now this Dinner wipes the slate clean; poorly informed Catholics and others will think, “If the Cardinal can put aside petty differences for a light night of fun and jokes, this must not be very important.”

The Cardinal, flanked by President John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon

I think the Al Smith Dinner could cost pro-lifers the election and put this radically pro-abortion President back in the White House for another four years.  Coming just a few weeks before the election, this will be a singularly important photo op for the President—and the media will do his bidding, showing the Cardinal and the Prez enjoying laughs and cigars like nothing is wrong.

So WHY would the Archbishop of New York and president of the USCCB extend an invitation to President Obama to join him at the podium along with his political opponent, Mitt Romney, at the annual Al Smith Dinner?

The Al Smith Dinner, a major fundraiser organized by the Albert E. Smith Memorial Foundation, is a light-hearted roast—a jocular black-tie fete named for the Catholic statesman who died in October 1944—and it attracts a veritable Who’s Who in American politics.  Since 1945 the Al Smith Dinner has raised millions of dollars for health care causes.  And the Foundation’s tradition has been to invite presidential candidates during an election year.

But there have been some notable exceptions: 

  • In 1996, Cardinal O’Connor did not invite the presidential candidates because he opposed President Bill Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion bill. 
  • Cardinal Egan avoided the presidential candidates in 2004, when Democratic challenger John Kerry espoused strongly pro-abortion views. 

Why Cardinal Dolan, who has led the American Church in its efforts to overturn the unconstitutional HHS Mandate, would overlook the gravely pro-abortion policies of the Obama Administration and the President’s staunch refusal to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act in the courts, and would invite President Obama to rub elbows at this lighthearted Dinner is a mystery to me.  And I am not alone in my confusion: 

  • Father Frank Pavone, head of Priests For Life, has said, “There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church.  So no, I don’t think the invitation is appropriate at this time.”  Father Pavone continues, “I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the President’s policies vs. respecting his office.  But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.”
  • The Boston Catholic Insider writes, “…This has sparked nationwide criticism and outrage which BCI feels is justified.” 
  • Al Kresta, syndicated talk show host and CEO of Ave Maria Radio, has addressed this on the air with his characteristic eloquence. 
  • Lawyer Michael Gaynor’s column on RenewAmerica pleads, “Cardinal Dolan, please don’t invite President Obama to the Al Smith dinner this year!” 
  • Steven Ertelt, writing in, represents the view of Randy Engel (Director, U.S. Coalition for Life) and others who say, “Better to cancel the event than have it become another cause for scandal in the Catholic Church.” 
  • Jenn Giroux, founder of WIN (Women Influencing the Nation) and former Executive Director of Human Life International, writes, “Three words, Cardinal Dolan: ‘Cancel The Dinner’”

I have always had such respect for His Eminence, admiring his leadership and smiling at his Godly joy; and I can’t believe he doesn’t have a greater good in mind now.  I wonder, Is he having second thoughts, and will the Dinner be cancelled?  Or is there a dialogue going on behind the scenes to which we are not privy?  Keep watching.

  • Kelly Thatcher

    Thoughtful article, Kathy, as always. (Psst…you might want to change “O’Connor” to “Dolan” in the graph that begins with the word “Why” just before the bullets.)

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Did that, Kelly– Thanks!

  • Sam Ferraro

    The appearance of Cardinal Dolan at this event will be scandalous and it will make the Cardinal look like a useful idiot.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    I’d expect the Cardinal will address this matter on his blog or in his column soon. He’ll also have an opportunity to talk about it during his conversation with Stephen Colbert next month, should the dinner come up.

    There’s an interesting interview with Dolan from last winter which helps explain the Cardinal’s approach to this president:

    Deacon Greg

    • Alan

      Thanks for the link.

    • Lex Libertas

      Who cares if he “addresses” the issue in his blog, or on some comedians show? The damage is done, and the only addressing that needs to be done is the cancellation letter to Obama and Romney. Just a few points based on something more than giving the benefit of the doubt to a good and holy man (which no one is disputing BTW).

      Practically speaking, it does not matter what Cardinal Dolan’s intent is or was. There is a fairly simple application of several Catholic doctrines at play here, and the Cardinal’s decision seems to fail in each area IMHO.

      First, in terms of creation or causation of scandal, CCC 2284 – 2287(especially 2285) makes it clear that action which might lead others to mortal sin does injury to their soul, and is therefore scandalous. And the burden on those in authority is even greater. Common sense leads one to the inescapable conclusion that many tens of thousands of heterodox Catholics will use the invitation and appearance at the Al Smith dinner to justify a vote for Obama. A vote for the most anti-Catholic, anti-life, anti-family/marriage and anti-religious freedom president in the history of the Republic is objectively and directly sinful, as it represents conscious cooperation with sin.

      Building on that same point, simply inviting someone who has shown such a chilling and unambiguous disdain for life (by their actions and not just rhetoric), has an even more direct appearance of cooperation with sin. It appears to be saying – “We find your policies and leadership of the culture of death to be despicable, but what the hey, lets get together and yuk it up over dinner and drinks” It is as ludicrous as it appears. And the good Cardinal is not Jesus, so please cease and desist with the banal analogies.

      Finally, the Church has a very well established and thoughtful doctrine regarding double effect that directly applies to this case. There are four tests and all must be satisfied for an action to be permissible that can or will have a negative or sinful effect. We already see the tremendous negative reaction and pain from Catholics regarding this decision. This was certainly not the intended effect, but should have easily been foreseen, which is one of the four tests. No matter how narrowly or broadly you consider the Cardinal’s decision, it fails the test(s) regarding double effect and is therefore a decision that should be reversed.

      Let’s be clear. Cardinal Dolan was indirectly pressured by a variety of interests to go forward with this and was not well served by staff and advisers. However, ultimately it was his decision, and he has an obligation to correct the error.

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  • Dennis O’Donovan

    The author suggests the possibility that Cardianl Dolan, in inviting President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, may have a greater good in mind. Perhaps in Dolan’s mind he does. Perhaps the greater good to him is to keep the door open to Obama expanding the HHS mandate exemption and in so doing making it easier for Obama to be reelected. I think we have to realize that most of our bishops are personally, and come from homes in which all were, lifelong Democrats. It may very well be that people of Dolan’s ilk rationalize why it would be okay to vote for Obama: abortion, and so on, is in God’s hands, Roe will only be overturned by prayer, etc. In the meantime, Mr. Obama, keep the money coming into the Catholic Church because we fear that if they gain power, the Republicans, with the passage of time, will end all of that and force us to do for ourselves what we should have been doing all along, namely, funding our own charities. Yes, Cardinal Dolan may have what he considers to be a greater good in mind. I almost forgot. God Bless America.

    • Barbara Jensen

      I am afraid that the real reason behind the invite is an unmitigated naive outlook on the part of Cardinal Dolan. He boggles the mind. His ‘jolliness’ is over the top, and he expressed real surprise when Obama hoodwinked him regarding same sex marriage. He does not learn from his experiences evidently, but keeps plowing ahead with his joviality and wants all of us to laugh along. It is just so sad.

      • Dennis O’Donovan

        Barbara, I sense that it is important to Cardinal Dolan that he be liked.

    • cathy

      Dennis, That’s brilliant thinking. I think you’re analysis is correct.

    • TtT Engine

      The Roman Catholic Church Engine frequently places politics and money ahead of orthodoxy and fidelity to the Chair of St. Peter . The Al Smith fundraiser is such an event. Obviously, money comes before fidelity to the Trinity. Congressman Allen West said that the majority of Congress is a bunch of communists. I say, the majority of the CCB are modern day scribes and pharisees. The CCB are largely responsible for the modern day American Catholic Church and in this instance, the HHS Mandate. They are more concerned with political issues than they are fidelity to the core teachings of the RCC. This is another mega moral disgrace to the Catholic Church. This is equivalent to inviting Pontius Pilate to the Transfiguration or the Ascension. My faith in the U.S.A. and the RCC weakens daily. Take the time out and you-tube the Al Smith event from 2008. Cardinal Dolan tips his hand in his closing remarks and mentions “healthcare” rather than the sanctity of Life and marriage. That 30 pieces of silver contributed to 4 years with the unvetted Planned Parenthood President. Let’s see what his comments will be this time. The Catholic Church, since 1973, in general, has given lip service to the unborn. All the prayers in the world will not save the 4,000 that will be murdered through abortion tomorrow if we, in the gift of our own free will, fail to do our part to protect and guard human life. It starts with putting the sanctity of Life and Marriage FIRST when you vote. The Catholic Church, similar to the U.S.A., is fading as the moral vanguards of the world. Our moral decay has lead us the brink of financial destruction. I truly wonder how much more mercy , patience and earthly time God will grant us before He calls His faithful Home ? Christi Fidelis !

  • Betsy

    Cardinal Dolan could be thinking he could use this as a teachable moment but you can be certain the liberal media is not going to let that happen.

    • Dennis O’Donovan

      Neither will Obama’s reelection campaign. They will insist on an agreement in advance that Dolan will say nothing that will in any way put Obama in a bad light of any kind.

  • Mary

    When I first heard about the invitation extended to President Obama I was confused, surprised, and disturbed. But, I thought about it today and perhaps Cardinal Dolan is coming from a place of such magnanimous charity that is foreign to most of us. After all, Jesus sat and ate with sinners. Perhaps Cardinal Dolan takes Jesus’ invitation to invite sinners to dinner very seriously. Just perhaps Cardinal Dolan is praying for a time of grace to overshadow this event and a heart to be converted. Perhaps, just perhaps, President Obama will be able to see all the good that Catholic charitable organizations are involved in. He must know that the Church means business when they say they will close their doors rather than violate their conscience. Perhaps President Obama will finally see what could happen by his unwillingness to budge on the HHS Mandate and have a change of heart. I just think there is more to this invitation than any of us know.

    • Tom

      True, Jesus dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, and all manner of sinners. However, nothing is recorded where Jesus lauded baby killers, mingled with mass murderers, or chatted with heads of state. Cardinal Dolan confuses me with this invitation. Unless obummer chokes on his meal, I shall not support this president participating in Catholic or other Christian festivities unless obummer repudiates his stand on the slaughter of innocents.

      Perhaps the cardinal thinks Israel will attack Iran and, therefore, leave obummer unable to attend the banquet for “national security reasons.”

      • DZ

        Well gosh, if that’s how you feel, Tom, maybe the Cardinal could just hire someone to assassinate the President while he’s having dessert. Why make it an accident? It’s amazing how one can feverishly defend “life” on a blog like this, but still refer to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES as an “enemy” and openly root for his death. Jesus would not recognize you folks as his followers.

        • Rod Treat

          I agree that wishing Obama dead is going too far. He is, however, an enemy of the Church and of the country he was elected to serve.

    • Bella

      No, I don’t think that Barry will see how much good Catholic charites do. He went to the dinner 4 years ago and he did not learn then But what he did learn is the weakness before him. Lets be realistic dining with sinners is one things since we all are, but to dine with someone who wants to wipe the Catholic Church off of the earth is another thing. If it walks like satan, talks like satan, then it IS satan.

      • EBS

        Wiping the Catholic Church from America is not wiping the Catholic Church from the earth. There are many many many other countries besides the United States of America and in those other countries there are many many many Catholics in them…..Just saying….

    • cathy

      Mary, You are wrong. Jesus sat and ate with sinners when they were ready for conversion and a had a heartfelt change. That is not the case with Obama. Jesus did not sit and have lunch and laugh it up with Herod and Pilate. Neither did John the Baptist. I recall his head being chopped off for rebuking Herod. This is a stab in the back to all prolifers especially those who spend so much time praying and counseling women outside abortion clinics and those who have been arrested blocking abortion clinic doors Don’t forget Obama, when a senator, even voted that babies who survive an abortion be left to die and not allowed to receive lifesaving medical care. Absolutely shameful that a cardinal would laugh it up with someone like this.

      • EBS

        Cathy, YOU are wrong. I am a pro-life pregnancy counselor for 7 years.
        This “invite” is not a slap in MY face, nor the face of the unborn child. Don’t pretend to speak for others. This whole “invite” dramahas been exaggerated, with a lot of accusation being thrown around by good Catholics, not to mention fear-mongering and insult hurled at the good Cardinal.
        At Cardinal Dolans Mass when he was made a Cardinal, there were many liberals in the pews who stood up with great admiration and praise clapping when the Cardinal talked about the poor and social justice. He took the standing ovation as a perfect and very clever opportunity to mention the sanctity of life and the importance of being pro-life. The liberals mid-clapping, embarrassed didn’t know what to do but smile in gritted teeth and keep clapping.
        This is a clever, good man who believes in mature adult dialogue, even if the opposition isn’t giving it.
        Obviously if you counseled hostile pregnant women who wanted to abort their children you would know that judging them, giving a firm shaking finger will get the door shut in your face. Only open dialogue and a loving Christian, non-judgmental demeanor will allow you to melt a hardened heart, so learn a few things from the good Cardinal. Stop talking fear-mongering and deriding a good leader of YOUR Church. That is what is shameful.

  • ProLife

    Jenn Giroux is not the former executive director of Human Life International. She formerly directed HLI America.


    I don’t know where people get this nonsense “Jesus ate with sinners” and use it to justify this quisling Cardinal. Matthew invited Jesus to a dinner before leaving all things in the hopes that Our Lord would win their souls. Matthew already believed when Jesus called him. Who called Matthew’s friend’s sinners? The pharisees did. They despised tax collectors, yet they were worse. For that matter everyone Jesus challenged was a sinner, Matthew’s friends were no worse nor better than the others. Point being, Jesus did not “party” with them, He ate a meal in Matthew’s house and sinners were invited. This roast is outrageous. Furthermore, Matthew’s friends were not funding the killing of babies or sodomy. Get real. And do not drag Our Lord down to that level. Do you think He would eat and roast with such evil people as Obama et al.? Not the Jesus revealed to us in the Gospels, the historical Jesus, who called the scribes and pharisees a “brood of vipers.” And the women who washed His feet was a converted sinner, who shed tears for her sins. Dolan will be laughing, like a fool.

    • Barbara Jensen

      Well said, Kelso. We are in inept hands I am afraid.

  • EBS

    Why do you treat your Cardinal like an idiot who doesn’t know what he is doing, and is only out to have a beer, a laugh and a jolly good time at the Al Smith Dinner? As a Catholic, support your leader, otherwise just shut up. It’s unbeleivably disrespectful what’s coming out of some commenters on this blog and many many others. Maybe if many are reminded that it is a sin to mock Christ’s faithful servants, not to mention bad form.
    Who needs enemies outside of the Church when you have judgmental know-it-all Catholics all around?!
    He is a Cardinal- he didn’t get there out of stupidity or chance. I’m positive he knows what he is doing, even if many others don’t. Here is a golden moment to practise faith and patience. I’m a pro-life pregnancy counselor for many years, and can say this.
    And by the way, Obama has ignored, stuck the proverbial finger toCatholic leaders during this whole HHS Mandate thing, so don’t you think that Dolan is clever in extending an invite that will leave Obama with no choice but to involve in dialogue. What would you prefer- the dead end “I’m not talking to you” “no “I’m not talking to YOU” game. No, Catholics can and should be politically clever too.
    Stop disrespecting our Cardinal.

    • Barbara Jensen

      The Cardinal is disrespecting himself and the Christ he is supposed to represent. Your shallow thinking is evident for all to see.

      • EBS

        Did I personally attack you Barbara Jensen? “shallow” is not scratching the surface, failing to see past your nose. Have a little Christian respect for another human being as that was not at all nice, let alone Christian. Im not a robot commenting on a blog. Im another human being. Your remark just illustrated the very point I was making.

        • Dennis O’Donovan

          ATTN: EBS
          At least Barbara Jensen has the courage to give her name. Who are you? Why are you hiding? If you have something to say, say it, but have the guts to do it openly, not while hiding.

          • EBS

            Haha, this is great. It’s a Catholic Blog. And you get the snappiest of Catholics. That’s my initials, I’m not anonymous. Who are you?
            What can I say, at least I’m not rude.
            As Mark Shea puts it, conduct yourself as if you are in someone’s living room, and treat each other the same. God bless Dennis, Barbara is very lucky to have a personal bodyguard.

  • Damon

    I have 100% confidence in Cardinal Dolan. No dinner could undo his unfailing and charismatic leadership. You all need to keep your powder dry for the real battles. This is a non-issue that causes more embarrassment by these overreactions.
    The Cardinal has more than earned our confidence and trust. Has anyone else considered that he is operating from a position of power instead of weakness?

    • Dennis O’Donovan

      Damon, Cardinal Dolan is operating from a position of power and not weakness? What color is the sky in your world?

  • Bill

    On the night of His arrest Christ was brought to the palace of Herod. Despite Herod’s questions of Him, CHRIST NEVER SAID A WORD. Benedict Arnold Cdl. Dolan is repeating exactly what he did last year when the “same-sex marriage” bill was coming up for a vote: he did essentially nothing and the bill passed. It has been law in N.Y. for a year. Obama does not even have to open his mouth. The picture of the The Quisling’s arm around Obama’s shoulder is worth a million words! If Dolan is being blackmailed, as I suspect he has been for over a year, then he should recuse himself and cancel the Dinner. EVERY GUEST SHOULD REFUSE TO GO in order to not bear witness to this disgrace.

    • cathy

      Well said Bill.

  • Rick DeLano


    Take a look at the gathering disaster for the Church, one which has been plain to see for years, and one which the US bishops have failed to confront precisely because of their personal, overwhelming predilection for the evil Democratic Party, the party of abortion and the party of same sex pseudo-marriage.

    Now you wonder why Catholics are uncomfortable with His Eminence sitting down with Obama for a photo op a few weeks before the election?

    Those of us who watched [seudo-marriage triumph in New York while (then) Archbishop Dolan decided things were completely in hand, and he could take off to Washington DC before the marriage vote, are *very uncomfortable*.


    • EBS

      Rick: point taken
      They are trying to push same sex marriage in Australia, and will probably succeed, and we have an excellent, excellent outspoken Cardinal Pell who has never shyed away from defending the faith at the expense of being ridiculed and attacked. He was even accused of abuse by some loopy nut, which was completely and utterly false and he handled himself with decorum and dignity through it all. A few months ago he was ridiculed on National TV when he debated Richard Dawkins (he came out winning).
      It doesn’t matter the “style” of your religious leader- ie. A diplomatic one like Cardinal Dolan or a direct one like Cardinal Pell, if a government is hell-bent on a mandate, they will make sure of it. And unfortunately the Catholic Church hands are tied. If the government is obnoxious, it is obnoxious. We have an obnoxious government right now in Australia.
      I believe in the grass roots approach- a)teach your kids the Faith and b)be active in the causes (eg. I’ve been a pregnancy counsellor for 7years and affirm the sanctity of life through this work). You can’t always rely on the laws of your country and scream end of the world when they are so anti our faith. We are Christians- we TRUST and follow Christ, He won’t abandon us! Ever!
      Btw, Did you know a mosque resides near St Peters in Rome? Are you telling me the Pope was “weak” in preventing it. Ridicule and express your disappointment in the Pope while you are at it. Go on!
      In Australia, where theChurch has had the same problems as US- priest abuse scandal, dissidence etc…Catholics don’t go around crucifying their religious leaders. There has got to be a line, and the Bishops and Cardinals need the support and faith and trust of their flock. Can’t you at least see that?
      The USA is a massive population, so you can imagine the struggles the Church leaders have to manage.
      Just show some respect in all this dialogue for your Cardinal. Even if you don’t agree with his methods. He is still a servant of God. And a leader in YOUR Church. God will judge us ALL- big or small.

      • Rick DeLano

        “A few months ago he was ridiculed on National TV when he debated Richard Dawkins (he came out winning).”

        EBS, please do not take offense, but I must say that anyone who views the utterly devastating failure of Cardinal Pell to defend Original Sin against Dawkins’ ruthlessly logical assault cannot possibly have watched the same debate I did.

        It was a catastrophe.

        At least Dawkins stated the doctrine correctly.

        The Cardinal miserably failed to defend it.


        • EBS

          Rick, I’ve gotta go out on a limb and say you didn’t watch it at all, from your analysis and description of what you are saying on the debate. Good attempt anyhow.

          Secondly, maybe if you defend theology better than the Church leaders, then the Church needs you as a leader- a priest, maybe a bishop or a Cardinal. You seem to think you can do better…

          • Rick DeLano


            Watch out for skinny branches:


            Relevant excerpt:

            “TONY JONES: So are you talking about a kind of Garden of Eden scenario with an actual Adam and Eve?

            GEORGE PELL: Well, Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.

            TONY JONES: But it isn’t a literal truth. You shouldn’t see it in any way as being an historical or literal truth?

            GEORGE PELL: It’s certainly not a scientific truth and it’s a religious story told for religious purposes……….

            RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, I’m curious to know if Adam and Eve never existed where did original sin come from?”

            That, my friend, is a very legitimate question.

            It has no answer, according to the doctrine set forth in front of millions by Cardinal Pell.

          • EBS

            RICK: (Im starting to like the CapsLock lol)
            He didn’t say it has no answer. He said it explains human suffering. He was talking about human suffering. I don’t see how he failed to defend the Theology. The audience was secular, Catholic Theological lecturing would have gone over the audiences head, bar the handful of Opus Dei members who offered very relevant questions in the audience. Oh, and you are so right- Dawkins just shone in-between his red-face and mumbling and below the belt clergy abuse snipes. What a star!
            Adam and Eve cannot be proven scientifically. We believe it because it’s Gods word. Has never been proven by human means- where are Adam and Eves bones buried? Where exactly is the Garden of Eden, and how do snakes talk? Never seen a talking snake.
            Like I said, you seem to think you can do a better job than the Cardinal, so please go ahead, explain it scientifically and theologically and historically and religiously.
            Anyway, I like your Cardinal Dolan. (And I like our Pell). I think he has done a lot for the Church he serves, and will continue to lead the faithful in your wonderful country. I can’t sit here and grumble at the Church I am part of, especially when I can’t do any better.

        • EBS

          Btw, no offense taken. I respect your points.

          • Rick DeLano

            Thanks, EBS.

            I understand all of the points that you have made above.

            Here is the problem.

            The Church has clearly and definitively spoken concerning these matters.

            Cardinal Pell did not provide the Truth about Catholic teaching.

            Yes, it was a debate, yes, allowances must be made for the circumstances.

            But it goes deeper than that.

            Cardinal Pell states:

            “Well, Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man.”

            That is material heresy.

            Adam is a man, Eve is a woman. Adan is not a word that means “earth”, and Eve is not a word that means “life”.

            Here is what the Church teaches (CCC):

            “390 The account of the fall in Genesis uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.”

            So Adam and Eve are not words meaning life and earth.

            Adam is a man, Eve is a woman, and from their acts as human beings proceed original sin.

            Every Catholic ever born knew this until this generation of prelates came along.

            Now notice that Dawkins is clearer, more honest, more concise, more logical in explicating Catholic Truth than is Cardinal Pell, who is quite convinced its all a beautiful and sophisticated myth (!)- try and find me one passage of Scripture, one teaching of any Father, any Doctor, and Saint, any Council, that reports this as “myth”- you can’t. It has *never been received, or taught, or understood, as “myth”, until the disastrous triumph of “higher criticism” in the aftermath of the disastrous Second Vatican Council:

            “RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, I’m curious to know if Adam and Eve never existed where did original sin come from?”

            That, my friend, remains a very legitimate question.

            You ask if I can defend the Church better than there Cardinal?

            I answer a seven year old catechized before this disastrous Council could have defended it better.

            That seven year old could have clearly and simply answered Dawkins.

            Cardinal Pell could not.

            If you agree with Cardinal Pell that it is all a sophisticated myth…….

            *Neither can you*.

            Sorry but the time for bomfoggery is past, the time for clarity has come.

            The people do not need the best theological suppositions of men.

            They need the Truth that comes to us from heaven, is found in Scripture, and has been taught and transmitted from the beginning.

            Even a seven year old will do.

          • EBS

            Pell, in answer to question about the implantation of a soul stated that the infusion of a Soul is not the same as adding a drop of Gin to a Tonic. He explained that the Soul is the life force. He went on to explain and state that the Genesis account of creation was a beautiful mytholigical account of the creation of the Universe with the importance of man’s creation being central to that creation. Btw mythological does not equal fairytale.
            Pell stated, explicitly, that the story of the Garden of Eden was a “beautiful mytholigical account” and was not a scientific account. He was correct. He explicitly didn’t say “literal” as Tony Jones wanted him to because you can’t explain it to the unbeliever, as the audience was secular. Even though Pell knows the Catechism. So he concluded it wasn’t proven scientific.
            In other words, he gave a non literalist view of the biblical account of creation. That is not opposed to Church teaching. Many a great Theologians have talked about the symbolism of the account of our first parents in the bible. With Our Lord Jesus obedience, suffering and death contrasted to Adams disobedience and selfishness, described as the “redemptive Adam” and Our Lady’s obedience as the “second Eve”. Doesn’t mean Jesus was Adam reincarnated or Our Lady was Eve reincarnated.
            He also explained that there must have been first humans and that the humanity of the first humans would have been evident when they were able to display a sense of awe and wonder at the world around them. Pell’s account fitted beautifully with the Church’s acceptance of evolution.
            GEORGE PELL: Yeah, well, I mean God wasn’t running around giving injections and if there is no first person we’re not humans.

            Dawkins wanted Pell to talk about Adam and Eve and Original Sin so he can intellectual deride Pell, based on science, even though Pell said science can’t prove it- it’s proven in religion. By “religion” we mean faith in the biblical account- Gods word. Dawkins is not a fair opponent, and I saw Pell as not falling for his trap….you may not agree.

            But I love how Dawkins, who denies the Creation account, wanted so badly to deny Original Sin- basically sit there and refute something that he says is not true. I found it laughable. If it’s not true, why bother?

            That was what I understood. Pell was not misleading the faithful as many have accused. The media will jump on things taken out of context and scream scandal. Look at things in context, knowing it’s an hour long show with a secular audience and an intellectually inconsistent and dishonest opponent (Dawkins). Once again I say, Pell was marvelous.

  • bob

    I find this invite to be demoralizing and outrageous. It makes one wonder if the Church is sincere in its fight for religious freedom and its disapproval of the killing of over 40 million babies in the womb. The opportunity for a photo-op will likely occur, resulting in a nationwide boost for this pro-abortion, same sex marriage advocate president. This invite is comparable to the New York Board of Rabbis inviting Adolf Hitler to “joke around and have a grand time” in commemorating the killing of six million Jews.

    Suggest e-mails to Cardinal Dolan requesting he rescind his invite and prove his sincerity in this struggle. His e-mail address is

  • Phil Fox Rose

    We’ll have to disagree on whether the White House’s handling of the HHS mandate issue should be seen as so offensive to the cardinal that it warrants shunning the sitting President of the United States. Clearly, the very conservative and well advised president of the USCCB doesn’t think so. It seems that one of two arguments for shunning is being offered: 1) hurt feelings over the HHS debate — that would be a reason unfitting the cardinal; or 2) Obama being pro-choice — if that’s the reason and the Al Smith dinner only invites pro-life candidates going forward, then it ceases to matter. That would be a terrible precedent. I think if pro-life activists force Cardinal Dolan’s hand, they will win an empty short-term victory and hurt their (and his) long-term political relevance.

  • phil


  • Joan A

    It’s not a black tie affair; the dress code for the dinner has always been white tie, despite the photo with Kennedy (but not Nixon) improperly dressed. If the author cannot get straight such a simple fact as this, I doubt the intelligence of the entire article.

  • Mary

    Some seem very sure “their” Jesus would be inviting a different kind of sinner than the President. Don’t you think that’s a bit arrogant? What does Jesus do? Pick from Sinner Box #1, Sinner Box #2 or Sinner Box #3? People can disagree on an issue but this issue has escalated to a level that the “fighting” among what are supposed to be faithful Catholics is now making headlines. It’s not pretty and it is divisive and the press will use it to make Catholics look confused. People are now being asked to sign petitions that will be sent to the Cardinal. I think this is totally inappropriate and non productive. Frankly, when a very prominent Catholic commentator states that because I am not second-guessing Cardinal Dolan my position is nonsense I find that a bit troubling. I didn’t know there was one position. Why can’t we just trust Cardinal Dolan? I guess that is my question.

  • Marguerite

    Criticizing a scandalous event is not judging the soul of the Cardinal. However, considering the devastation well-intentioned leaders of the Church have done to the Catholic faithful, i.e., innovations in the liturgy, wreckovation of Churches, removing Tabernacles, etc., it is not surprising that the actions of the clergy are viewed with suspicion. Don’t forget it was Cardinal Dolan who said he would rather be a saint than a Cardinal. This event would be a great opportunity to show that. A saint does what is difficult. Disinviting the President would show that the Cardinal means what he says and does what he means.
    Lastly, good St. Thomas More said that he is God’s good servant first and then the king’s. Whom has Cardinal Dolan chosen first?

    • Mary

      Marguerite, did it occur to you that Cardinal Dolan thought his decision was “saintly” and not predicated on what the rest of us think saintly might be? It’s hard for me to understand the comparison between the actions of St. Thomas More to Cardinal Dolan.

      • Marguerite

        According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Thomas More suffered humiliation, degradation and ultimately death rather than renounce his opposition to Henry’s plans regarding divorce, remarriage, being declared head of the Church, etc.. He lost royal favor, his property, income, and family only to suffer a horrific death because he would not capitulate to the king’s demands. Put into a modern scenario, King Obama is persecuting the Catholic Church, forcing us to capitulate to his demands for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs or else suffer the consequences. A cardinal wears red to show that he would rather die a martyr’s death than capitulate to evil. This is the sign of a saint, not someone just yucking it up at a dinner.

  • Frank

    Jesus to Herod and Pilate: Before you crucify Me, let’s yuck it up over dinner.

    Cardinal Dolan to Prez Obama and Kathleen Sibelius: Before the persecutions begin, let’s yuck it up over dinner.

    Jesus proved by his death that politics and religion never mix. When will our religious leaders learn that?

  • David Badash

    Barack Obama is not “the enemy,” he is the President. And, he is your president, a fact you seem to have forgotten.
    But what’s truly disgusting, truly offensive, truly vile, is that you, steeped in your Catholic faith and life as the “wife of a deacon and mother of three grown children, and currently works as Communications/ Media Relations Coordinator for Guest House, the treatment center for Catholic clergy and religious,” have totally ignored the true essence of what your religion is supposed to be about.

    Congratulations. You give license for all those things people say about Catholics and Christians to be true.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      David, I’ve ignored the “true essence” of my faith? I don’t think so. My faith considers the human body so sacred, so imbued with the image of God, that it must be treated with the utmost respect. That means that tearing limbs off children in the womb, as horrendous as that sounds, is in fact truly horrendous. Support for abortion is support for the unthinkable.

      On another matter, since I know this is of importance to you, Catholics believe that God has given us the great gift of our sexuality, and that sex is to be between one man and one woman. If you want to understand that teaching more fully, I would refer you to the website of Courage, the Roman Catholic apostolate for persons with same-sex attraction.

      God bless you.

    • Mary

      David, while true that Barack Obama is the President of the United States his lack of respect for the sanctity of human life is apparent and goes back to the time he voted against the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act. This legislation provided medical intervention to a baby who survived an abortion! He actually voted against this! That’s very, very hard to grasp from my perspective and I would suggest most people’s perspective. He is by far the most pro abortion president in the history of the country and the HHS Mandate which he and Kathleen Sibelius support is a direct “slap in the fact” of Catholic institutions and flies in the face of what we hold dear as Americans – religious freedom. Cardinal Dolan has spoken out quite strongly against the HHS Mandate and President Obama has not been honest in his dealings with Cardinal Dolan on this issue. The HHS Mandate is forcing Catholic institutions to violate their conscience by providing contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their employees’ insurance policy. If they do not they will be heavily fined; upwards of $100 per day, per employee. You can do the math. This is a direct violation of our Constitutional rights and that is why Barack Obama is viewed as the “enemy”. While we should respect the office of the presidency we do not necessarily have to respect the person who holds that office if their actions violate our religious views.


    Sorry David. Obama has made himself the enemy, his presidency only makes him more of an enemy — an enemy of truth and goodness who uses his office to take our taxpayer money, along with evil congressmen, and pay for the killing of the preborn and the destruction of the family. What does one have to do David to be an enemy of God? Tell me!

    • David Badash

      As one Pastor said back in May/June, Barack Obama is the President of the United States, not the Pastor of the United States. And we have something called laws and courts and Congress in this country. America is run by those institutions, not by whatever brand of Bible or other Holy Book you’d like to use in your theocracy.

      Religion, by the way, as your Jesus Christ said many times, is about love. None of you show any of that, which is why Americans are becoming disgusted with the tactics and hypocrisy of religious leaders.

      You want to follow what the Bible preaches? Go help the homeless, the sick, the poor, the needy. Stop telling others how to live their lives. Practice your faith, and stop jamming it down everyone else’s throats.

      There’s not a war on religion. There’s a war on hypocrisy and the misuse of religion for political purposes, and overstepping your bounds. You do not have the right to tell others what to do and how to live.

      Frankly, the majority of Americans are sick of it.

      • Mary

        I don’t think the Catholic Church is jamming religion down anyone’s throat. We live in a democracy which includes the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion so why are you denying “our” right to speak? There is a new religion in this country and it is called secularism. There is very strong evidence to support that secularism is being forced upon people. Your comment proves my point. The Catholic Church takes care of the poor, the homeless and does this very, very well. Jesus spoke about love but He also spoke about conversion. He called sinners to repentance and conversion. He did not call sinners to believe in Him but to have them go on sinning. That’s the mistake secularists always make. They always speak of Jesus’ love but forget the rest of what He said. “Go and sin no more”. It seems to me there definitely is a war on religion because gay activists are attempting to change the law in this country and redefine marriage. So who is forcing their worldview on whom? You have the right to your beliefs and choices but don’t expect those of us who think differently to remain silent. That’s what makes America who she is.

  • daisy

    Jesus ate with sinners and they stopped their sinful behavior. This is different. Do you really think that Cardinal Dolan is going to spend the dinner preaching at the Prez? Nope, in the morning after we will see a photo of the Cardinal with his head thrown back, mouth wide open, guffawing at some witicism.

    • EBS

      What do you want him to do- sulk in the corner? Do you sulk in the corner at a party? A little charisms can outsmart charisma you know….

  • Anthony Fernandes

    This dinner would be photo op for the president of the US. It will send a wrong message to the faithful catholics,

  • Mike Branhut

    I recall another man who caused scandal by eating with sinners.

  • Dennis O’Donovan

    It never ceases to amaze me how a loyal Catholic who respects a Cardinal’s ability to be an authentic teacher on matters of Faith and morals seems to believe that ability translates into mastery of all other areas. It does not.


    Jesus taught us to love OUR enemies and pray for them. We love them by praying for their conversion and doing good to them. Admonishing the public sinner is a work of mercy. Roasting with them is not. This is why Cardinal O’Connor would not invite Clinton to the Al Smith Dinner. And, in one sense, Obama is worse than Clinton because he voted in favor of infanticide in botched abortion cases while senator. Jesus did not teach us to love GOD”S enemies, rather He taught us not to cast our pearls before swine (therefore some men are swine). Jesus cast “Woe’s” upon the scribes and pharisees, He did not applaud their speeches and laugh with them. David chooses to divorce love from the truth, when in God they are one. The greatest love we Christians can give to another is to tell them the truth. If they take it you have won a soul. If not, then walk away; shake the dust if they are persistent and contradictory. That is what Jesus taught His disciples to do. Like so many others David has fabricated a Jesus whom he makes to his own image and likeness, not the historical Jesus. It is love that compels us at times to hate those whose public sins cry out to heaven.
    “Six things there are, which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood (pre-born innocents by abortion), a heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, a deceitful witness that uttereth lies, and him that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6: 17-19)

    Here is what King David wrote under divine inspiration about hating God’s enemies:

    Psalms 138:22
    I have hated them with a perfect hatred: and they are become enemies to me.
    Psalms 138:21
    Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated thee: and pine away because of thy enemies?
    Psalm 25:5
    I have hated the assembly of the malignant; and with the wicked I will not sit.
    Psalm 118:113
    I have hated the unjust: and have loved thy law.
    And St. Paul in Romans 9:13
    As it is written (Malachias 1:3): Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.

  • Diane at Te Deum

    My whole concern is that it will be exploited, and has been already. Recall that Pope Benedict XVI did not give Nancy Pelosi any such opportunity for a photo op.

  • Iutita Forgony

    I think instead of negative thought we need to pray for Cardinal Dolan and hope for the best.If the priest go down is our fault,they need a lots of prayers and don’t forget they are human they made mistakes.We just leave it to the lord arms and pray that he lead all his priests to right path ask for the grace of their convertions0

    • EBS

      Well said. I totally agree. They are NOT and never will be the One, Perfect, Son of God, Jesus Christ. They are human beings.

  • Larry Ballared


    Cardinal Dolan,

    Archbishop Dolan, why was Obama invited to the Al Smith Charity Dinner? Charity begins at home and as Catholics our home is the Church. Are we now endorsing this enemy of the Church for a second term as President of the United States?…Wake up, this sends a terrible message to voting Catholics. These times are not business as usual and necessitate drastic changes in the way the Catholic church and the Archdiocese of New York treat enemies of our Faith. Either the Bishops are with us or against us. The Bishops cannot serve two masters. How do we defend our faith when our Catholic Church leaders do not practice what they preach……..Oh well, politics as usual….at the expense of our Religious Liberties.

    A Disappointed Catholic,

  • susha

    Can’t the Bishop see people are tired of this garbage I mean really!! eating with the enemy of the Church.
    I wonder is Bishop Dolan will be laughing it up with Obama when he starts seeing fellow priest Jailed for speaking the truth

  • Choose_Life_Now

    Now unfortunately, thanks to this invitation by the leading Bishop in our nation, Catholics have been given the green light to vote Joseph Stalin into a second term, Catholics have been given a green light to accept homosexual marriage and fight against DOMA, Catholics have been given a green light to accept the destruction of embryos for stem cell research, Catholics have been given the green light to pay for abortafacient drugs for their employees, Catholics have been given a green light to support our tax dollars to fund International Planned Parenthood at home and abroad. Catholics have been given the green light to accept tyrannical suppression of their Religious liberties! Everyone, we all must send our apologies to Notre Dame, we must send our apologies to Georgetown University, and get the word out to LCWR that all their ideas ar A-O.K.!
    Let us all send a letter to Bishop Lori and tell him that his “Fortnight for Freedom” events were meaningless and ask him to explain why we should give any $ to Catholic Charities, CRS or any USCCB fund-raiser!

  • Joe Ott

    I have trouble also with any Pro Abort invited to a dinner honoring a Catholic who was persecuted for his Faith. If you want to be charitable, admonish with love. Maybe state on the invitation, we would like to invite you but because of your stand against Life we can’t?

  • Mary

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were quite critical of Congressman Ryan’s budget because it fails to help the poor. The Bishops said the Ryan budget, supported by Republicans , “fails to meet the moral criteria”. Therefore, Mitt Romney who supports Paul Ryan and has praised his budget shouldn’t be invited to the Al Smith dinner.

    If President Obama shouldn’t be invited, then neither should Romney. Jesus said we will be judged on how we treat the poor, and according to our Bishops, Paul Ryan and the Republicans do not treat or help the poor with their budget.

    • Mary

      Just to avoid any confusion – I am not the same “Mary” that has been posting in several comments above. The immediate comment above about the Ryan budget is my only post on this board. Apologies for any confusion that my post may cause to the other “Mary” who is also posting on this page.

  • John King

    Prudential judgements should be exactly that, prudent. This term cannot be used to justify any action that is not intrinsically evil. The point is that many Catholics do not think it was prudent, but scandalous. Just as going alone to dinner with another man’s spouse, by itself is not intrinsically evil, it is not prudent, but scandalous. Having an official meeting with her at work on the other hand is appropriate. Cardinal Dolan did not choose the right forum for dialog and it is downright scandalous.
    Fraternizing with the enemy at a dinner party is scandalous especially when you were the one who personally invited him. I believe the problem is that many Catholics don’t think President Obama is a enemy of the Church as evidenced by their voting in 2008. So what was the Fortnight of Freedom all about anyway? I believe many Catholics don’t try to practice their faith 100% and when the Bishops do things like this it somehow justifies their own personal lack of the virtue of prudence. Come on, Jesus dining with sinners cannot be compared to Jesus leaving the Disciples to attend a gala with King Herod.

  • George R. Kadlec

    I would like to see the comments Cardinal Dolan has on the following:

    ■In 1996, Cardinal O’Connor did not invite the presidential candidates because he opposed President Bill Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion bill.

    ■Cardinal Egan avoided the presidential candidates in 2004, when Democratic challenger John Kerry espoused strongly pro-abortion views.

    Some G.K. Chesterton quotes:

    “There are an infinite number of ways to fall, but there is only one way to stand.”

    “Be careful not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

    “I want a church that moves the world not one that moves with it”

    “Moral issues are always terribly complex for someone without principles.”

    “Only a live fish can swim against the current, the dead go with it.”

    Other quotes:

    “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine [Ephesians 4:14], seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s ego and desires.” — Cardinal Ratzinger (before he became pope)

    Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. (Matt 10:34-36)

    St. Athanasius is the first recognized Doctor of the Church and has the title “Father of Orthodoxy.” The following quote has been attributed to him “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops.”

  • Jan Raesz

    “If my people, who are called by my name…”
    That’s the church. And right now, the Catholic Church is the only one speaking out against what is happening to our country. The entire nation is listening. No matter how you explain your personal view of your good cardinal, my prayer is that Cardinal Dolan will have the fortitude to stand up to the tyrant Obama. Our country is on a grievous, rudderless and godless course just as Germany in the 30s. We need men and women with courage and vision and a coherent voice, for as you may recall, the rest of Germany fell when the church failed to speak out.

  • Mrs Teri Medina

    Jesús said “not the ones that say ‘LORD, LORD’ BUT THE ONES THAT DO MY FATHER’s WILL” etc
    Cardinal Dolan can SAY ALL HE WANTS AGAINST OBAMA’S SINFUL UNGODLY. POLICIES, but what counts is your actions. WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY, our churches and impacting OUR LIVES AND will be impacting those of our Children, is NO JOKE or nothing to be joking about tonight or any day. . EVEN IF IT IS FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. HOW MUCH IS CARDINAL O’CONNOR MISSED, how much we need Cardinals like him!!!!!! HAVING THESE CANDIDATES TODAY, specially Obama…. Is a DISGRACE, a SCANDAL AND AN OPEN DOOR POLICY FOR MORE AND MORE ABORTIONS AND ANTI- MORAL, anti-CHRISTIAN POLICIES. Thank God for EWTN, AVE MARIA RADIO good SOLID Catholic
    Priests, religious and media… Ready to become even martyrs for the TRUTH to come out!!!

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Mrs. Medina, I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised at the Cardinal’s mastery of this difficult situation. You can watch it tonight live on C-SPAN.

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  • Jeanna

    “the heroic archbishop of Krakow, who serves Hans Frank a meal of stale
    bread and acorn coffee when the haughty Nazi governor insists on being
    invited to dine at the episcopal manse.”