Democrats to Dolan: No Equal-Time Praying at Our Convention

President Obama has evidently refused to allow Cardinal Timothy Dolan to offer the benediction at the Democratic National Convention. According to the New York Post

“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.

“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”

The story goes on to add that a “senior Obama campaign official” says that a “high-ranking” Catholic will be at the Democratic convention but that they couldn’t say who because “the person hasn’t got their plane ticket.”

Now that’s a new one.

They “can’t say” who because the person “hasn’t gotten their plane ticket.”

Does that make sense to somebody? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Its sounds like they’re calling around to find a “high-ranking” Catholic to shove into the schedule. They may be talking to someone about coming. But I doubt if it’s firm, or at least it wasn’t when this story was written. I’m guessing that’s the reason the “senior campaign official” can’t say who’s coming. They don’t know for sure. 

The idea that you can’t announce an engagement because someone hasn’t gotten their plane ticket doesn’t make sense. At least not to me.

The bottom line here is that President Obama’s campaign blew this. Cardinal Dolan appears to be bending over backwards to be even-handed and non-partisan. He’s taken a couple of hits from the more quarrelsome members of his extended flock for doing this.

But the President, or at least his staff, appears to be determined to make it clear that they are at war with the Church. The whole attitude of this administration toward traditional Christians in general and Catholics in particular just keeps rolling downhill. This is another example. 

Meanwhile the Republicans have gone a courtin’. They’ve zeroed the Catholic vote and intend to bring it home. 

The question (and it’s a real one folks) is if they get the Catholic vote, do they have any intentions of actually following through with more than talk? Patronizing Catholics is only better than attacking them as a matter of degree. 

Does anybody besides me remember the big stand-off a few months ago over extending the debt limit? It was the President vs the Republican House, playing chicken with the budget and the government. The Republicans held out for tax cuts for corporations and, in the end, they won. The corporations got their tax cuts and the rest of us got to see our government continue running.

My question: If Republicans are so opposed to the HHS Mandate, why didn’t they bargain for an end to it back then?

It’s simple, really. All they had to do was lay aside their eternal fealty to corporate greed for one fight and insist that the President back down on the HHS Mandate to get his debt extension. President Obama would have had no choice. He would have had to give in. If the Republicans are so opposed to the HHS Mandate, why didn’t they do something about it when doing something would have been so do-able?

If they had, the whole thing would be history by now.

I think the reason they didn’t is because they wanted the HHS Mandate to go into effect so they could use it for a campaign issue. That doesn’t change the fact that the Obama Administration promulgated that regulation or that Democrats in the Senate voted to keep it. It just means that once again the American people are being played like a violin by both these political parties. They both wanted the HHS Mandate to go into effect because they both benefitted from it. 

All I’m saying is that I hope that Republican voters realize that campaign rhetoric is cheap.  I hope they demand that their party starts walking their talk when it comes to values and social issues such as this one.

As for this ham-handed refusal to allow the Cardinal to give an equal-time prayer at the Democratic Convention and what it says about the party’s current attitude toward believers, I think it speaks for itself. 

  • Karyl Entner

    “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Timothy 6:10) Frankly, I think that the Missouri fellow running for the Senate actually spoke his mind, and the RINO’s in the party threw him under the bus. The cronies who gather the money were afraid of losing funding themselves if they spoke up. I do not like that. Finally, Dick Lugar, IN, has give grudging support to the candidate that beat him in the Primary but Lugar needed to go. You are looking beyond the surface for root problems. Keep looking. Politics is not for the faint in heart. Keep talking, Rebecca, keep talking.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Great comment Karyl! Thanks.

    • PaulK

      Wouldn’t you agree that the Love of Power is more evil? With power they take what they want and force regular people to do what the powerful want. I think the scriptures were more critical of others who sought the power and held it over people without keeping God first. Scripture was more sympathetic to rich people because they have to work so much harder to keep God first. The eye of a needle thing for a camel. People like me have to pray to God for help with everything.
      I fully agree with you that we have to keep looking and talking. The scriptures says to question everything and be virtuous. Anyway that’s what I think.

      • Ryan Haber

        Money is liquid, transferable power. Communio, a journal of Catholic theology, had an interesting issue a few years ago all about money. One of the articles was on why Socrates refused to charge his students. One of the points discussed is how money sets itself up as a rivalry to God and loving it is necessarily contrary to loving God. The basic gist goes like this:

        God has three attributes that He infuses into everything he does: truth (conformity of reality and ideal), beauty (harmony of parts in a whole), and goodness (conformity of a thing to its intended value or purpose). These things are called by philosophers the transcendentals, and everything that exists has them in varying ways. The ancient Greeks perceived them even before Christ. Everything aspires to them, you might say, by reflecting them. We say, “Now that’s a real pizza,” because it is what we expect pizza to be. “What a good boy,” when a child behaves as we believe children ought. “A beautiful painting!” when the artist has rendered reality or some aspect of some reality well.

        The transcendentals exert a sort of gentle mastery over humans because we can perceive and share in them, create them in things, but we do not control what they are.

        Money – in a person or society that feels it as a value in itself – sets itself up as a sort of counterfeit transcendental. We come to measure all things in terms of money, rather than truth, beauty, and goodness, and begin to harbor the illusion that having money gives us power, even over them.

        In practice we come to feel ourselves independent of God as we love money more and more, doing things on our own, mastering our world more and more, needing less and less to trust and depend upon our Father.

        At least, that’s what they think.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Rebecca, the fact that the Dems were so “gender-neutral” in their remarks suggests to me that whoever is going to be speaking/praying at their convention will be a woman. They’re going to want to emphasize the whole “war on women’” thing.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I hadn’t thought of that Elizabeth, but it does have a certain symmetry. You may very well be right. Now … what “big name” Catholic would she be???

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        What’s the name of that Catholic sister who has been the Obama administration’s go-to nun in favor of the whole health care reform? Might be a natural person.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Sister Carol Keehan, with the Catholic Health Association. I think she’s the head of it. You may be right about her. She DID come out against the HHS Mandate, though.

          • T. Dalrymple

            I believe she proposed some kind of compromise, right? They may try to say the Bishops are not accepting the compromise because this is not really about principle but about politics. Will be interesting to watch.

          • Dan F.

            Based on her statement against the mandate, I don’t think that she would do it. My guess is that it will be an LCWR sister, perhaps the president of that organization.

  • Andy

    My guess would be either Sr. Pat Farrell, current president of the LCWR, or Sr. Florence Deacon, incoming president. Either choice would definitely highlight the supposed war against women. The Republicans have Cardinal Dolan, an example of the “male dominated hierarchy” while the Democrats have the more contemporary and “much subjugated” religious sister. Proving that it is the Democrats who are more in touch with the people and not the Republicans.

    Just a guess though.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I thought of them, too. It’s going to be interesting, to see what they do.

  • Linda Caswell

    What’s the name of that nun who they made the movie Dead Man Walking about?

    • Deacon Greg Kandra

      Sister Helen Prejean.

  • Kathleen

    Why bother voting? Nothing gets better. The HHS mandate game is another example.

  • Mary

    I think that Cardinal Dolan needs to invite all potential “invitees” to dinner.

  • ThomasL

    While you are 100% right that the HHS mandate trumps the issue of tax cuts, I think you should be a little more hesitant to attribute the *motivation* for tax cuts to the mortal sin of greed.

    It is a basic law of economics that “corporations don’t pay taxes.” Customers pay the corporation’s taxes through higher prices on everything they buy. That is not even controversial, go listen to an NPR Planet Money from a few weeks back about their economic platform. They got a ton of far left and far right economists together and every single one of them agreed that corporate income taxes made no sense from an economic perspective.

    So why does it matter? Well, it means the cost of doing business is higher than it otherwise would be, and higher here than in countries with lower rates. In a time when a lot of businesses are struggling, that can make all the difference to the ones one the margin.

    For the businesses that aren’t struggling, it can mean one of two things (1) higher profits which can be paid out to shareholders or reinvested in research, etc. Both are good things, particularly the latter or (2) they can hire more people to produce more stuff, which is also a good thing.

  • ThomasL

    I should have mentioned a third thing (3) lower prices to customers, but I highly doubt that will happen in the short term. Businesses are just too antsy about the future, particularly their future health care expenses. In the longer term it will tend down (in real terms, because of inflation, “down” may mean “less up”), but I wouldn’t expect to see it soon.

  • Jeffrey Quick

    Nancy Pelosi is “a high-ranking Catholic”. She’s just not high-ranking within the Church. If not her, they’ll find somebody else from within the American Patriotic Catholic Association.

  • Sarah M

    Very sharp analysis. Thank you!

  • Mike

    The Dems cannot even invite Cardinal Dolan to say a pray but have already announced that three prime speakers will be from organizations staunchly pro-abortion and vehemently opposed to teaching of the Catholic Church. Do we need anymore evidence of where this party stands?

  • Kathy

    This is off the subject somewhat, but how can we as Catholics vote for a presidential candidate (Romney) who believes abortion is okay under some circumstances? I have yet to see this problem addressed in any Catholic blogs so far. As far as I know, abortion under any circumstances is against the Catholic religion.

    • Neenergyobsever

      Sure Kathy, I agree but that leaves you satying home. Ron Paul and Obama are worse. Is it worse to vote for Romney who at least says he’s pretty much changed his mind, or Obama who will let (and fought for the right to) babies who survive botched abortions die from neglect. That’s what you’re voting for if you don’t vote for Romney.

      And Rebecca, we going to do our best, we’ve had plenty of nonsense from these Washington types.

    • JayG

      Look up Prudential Judgment in the Catechism

    • John B

      Kathy, surely you can’t be serious. Even if Romney and Republicans are not perfectly pro-life, they are vastly superior to the pro-abortion Democrats. As Edmund Burke said, “All that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” The Democrat platform will support abortion on demand and the redefinition of marriage. The Republican platform will be strongly, if not perfectly, pro-life and support traditional marriage. There is no choice here. Sitting the election out is not an option.

      • Kathy

        Yes, I’m serious. I will proably vote for Gov. Romney because the other choice is unacceptable. Yet, I still have that twinge of conscience and doubt.

        • John B

          I understand and commiserate with the twinge. Look at it this way. One of those two will be elected. Which one would you rather it be. As JayG suggested, look up Prudential Judgement in the Catechism. I would respectfully suggest that given the information available you should modify your position from “probably vote for Romney” to “am morally called to vote for Romney”

      • Dan F.

        The Republican platform can’t be pro-life and endorse torture (enhanced interrogation), drone strikes, pre-emptive war and the death penalty (life from conception to natural death remember?). SO the question is: “is opposition to abortion *most* of the time (and particularly in an election year) even though no significant progress has been made on the issue for 40 years a sufficient enough reason to justify voting *for* Romney?” I’m not convinced. I’m not going to vote for Obama, but will Romney really be better? I still might vote for the “sucks less” ticket but color me skeptical.

        Also, given the opportunity served up by a friendly EWTN host to say “My administration will immediately rescind the HHS Mandate” Romney couldn’t do it. So i’m not convinced that his administration actually will do that. He can’t unilaterally end Obamacare, and if the Republicans don’t take the Senate (a real possibility after the Akin debacle) then Obamacare stays on the books including the mandate.

        • TKDB

          Those are all certainly failures to respect life on the part of the Republican party, but I’d say they’re less grievous than the Democrats’ support of abortion. The sins against life that the Republicans endorse are more a matter of excess — these are cases where some application of force (either psychological or physical) is justified, but the force applied is unethically disproportionate or haphazard. It’s an error of degree or application rather than kind.
          Abortion, on the other hand, is a case in which lethal force is brought to bear against an innocent life for no other reason than the convenience. This is a truly grievous evil, and one that is fundamentally wrong in kind rather than degree. It is a far greater offense to human life and dignity than any of the things you mentioned. Furthermore, abortion causes far more deaths than all of the offenses against the value of human life that the Republicans support combined. Drone strikes have killed a few thousand over the 8 years since the technology started being used extensively. The war in Iraq (a good, recent example of preemptive war) racked up a total death toll of 700,000 (by the most generous estimates) since it began in 2003. Only a little over 1200 criminals have been executed in the US in the past 35 years or so. By contrast, abortion claims over 1.2 million lives PER YEAR. Not only is abortion an intrinsically more reprehensible disregard for human life, but its victim count exceeds those of all other allowed offenses against life by orders of magnitude.

          Certainly, the Republican party is hardly the perfect pro-life option, but they are by far the lesser of two evils in that regard. And Obama in particular is especially bad on the abortion issue, even by the standards of the Democrat party.

  • RB2

    I nominate Mark Shea as high profile Catholic to do special prayer at the Democratic Convention.
    …and I’ll bet he’d love to do it!

  • tz

    Bush 43 could have issued an executive order that would have prohibited any federal funds from going to planned parenthood if they also did abortions in the same place (which would have cut them back). He didn’t. Nor did he do with Terri Schiavo what Clinton did with Elian Gonzales.

    Catholics are to republicans what Blacks are to democrats – where else will they go?

    No one in the neocon Catholic rightwing GOP uber alles media has noticed but Ron Paul’s delegates FOLLOWED EVERY RULE, then the rules were changed. The delgates were denied their slots. Others were appointed by the states in violation of the rules. The credentials committee is approving of all this corruption. The whole party is corrupt. I’m not surprised since in the mid 1990s here in Michigan, Ronna Romney won the senate nomination but the party elite said BECAUSE she was pro-life it was ok to vote for the Democrat. The party is a bunch of incestuous cronies and is raping its supporter, but abortion is OK in the case of rape or incest.

  • Rick DeLano

    Well, tz, the truth in what you write above is undeniable.

    But the thing is, we as Catholics had better take over one the Parties soon, or get ready for open persecution.

    Seems to me we have a better shot with the Republicans, although perhaps you know something I don’t.

  • RB2

    The Republican Party over decades has served as an ineffectual doorstop towards a door swinging wide open to limiting the freedom of religion and approaching outright persecution. Then again so has the Catholic Church., both ineffectual doorstops. Dont throw them out!

    • Neenergyobsever

      I couldn’t agree more and if you want to know why, Rebecca tells you in her archives. We have a chance to take over the Republicans, the Democrats will be lucky to survive the leftists but, as long as the government is involved his much in our lives it is going to be corrupt. As one of the railroad officers involved in the Credit Moblier scandal said, “Sure we bribed them, when they asked us to.

      And yes our churches (I’m Lutheran BTW) have been MIA since the 60s, we need to work on that, and quickly, althought he Catholic Church does appear to be waking up.

  • Manny

    The Democratic Party has been anti religion since the 1970s. Where do the atheists feel most at home? Where does the ACLU, with all their anti religious law suits, feel most at home? It aint the Republican Party. Since William F. Buckley and National Review, intellectual Catholics have been pretty much aligned with the Conservative Movement. A touchstone issue is abortion. Look at how stark a difference there is between the parties. And yes, this obama administration has been the most anti religious that I have ever experienced. After the HHS amndate I have no idea why a Catholic with a head on his/her shoulders can vote for Obama.

    • Manny

      And let me add this. If the Obama administration gets away with this (and that means re-elected) then the next Democratic administration will take it further, push it another notch or two. If the Obama administration is punished for being so advertly anti religion, then the next Democratic administration might pull back from the Obama approach. Only you Democrats (I’m a Republican) can self right your party.

  • Dan

    I bet they’re trying to get someone from the LCWR

  • David M Paggi

    This is one of many pointers to a chilling fact: the Obama Administration in general, and HHS in particular, have a goal and mission to drive our Church out of as many areas of society as it possibly can. We can speculate on what sort of thinking would motivate this action, but that it is occurring on a number of fronts should shock us from complacency into action.

    We no longer have the luxury of internal bickering over social, economic, immigration, defense, or other policy areas which have so long been a source of contention. If we want to exist as a Church that can say ANYTHING, we have to survive the current challenges and the worse to follow.

    Many who read this are lifelong Democrats or liberals who are invested in the current administration, or if not, may have serious misgivings or disagreement with the only available alternative. Nevertheless, if the ability to even have this conversation is to remain, we must survive with our Church and her definition of mission intact.

    Hold you nose if you must, but if you care about your freedom, your faith, your Church, its social ministries, and the contribution Catholic thought makes to our society, please, for the sake of the souls of generations to follow, vote for the (gasp) Republican nominee. Abstaining, like surrender, is not an option.

  • Paul Gutting

    This has been interesting. If you think about it, prayer at a national political convention is a bit of an oxymoron since these same people have removed prayer from schools, documents and plaques that reference God from the halls of public buildings, and political parties that trample justice for the unborn and the nations poor. What we are seeing particularly within the catholic community is an identity crisis of biblical proportions. We look to our leaders to lead yet they are just as lost as the rest of us particularly Mr. Obama who has gone on record saying that the USA is not a christian nation; and more recently he discounts his religion, what ever that is, because he has a country to run. St. Paul speaks of freedom from the law not that we are not bound by the laws of civility, but if we are aligned with our creator we are free to enjoy the gifts He has laid at our feet. We need to let both parties know that we tire of meaningless rhetoric and I’ve got a bigger Catholic than you do publicity stunts. We need to see some traction, we need to see some prudence, justice, temperance and for crying out loud a good measure of fortitude. Our system of politics is, in the main, more worldly than being about upholding the dignity of each human person and other such sentinel touchpoints upon which this great nation was founded. That is a problem which is owned equally by each political party and those individuals that support them.

  • quiddity

    Catholics have not been on the same page and yet demand a lot more from Republicans. Frankly, many Catholics act like they are ready to bolt back to the Donkey Party as soon as they hang a prolife flag. I have been a Republican since I was 18. I was so because eventhough I did not realize that subsidiarity was a Catholic concept until I read my first Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1994, it seemed to me the GOP with its embrace of the free market was the best place for me to exercise free will. I was influenced most especially by Phyllis Schlafly and her stance on life and a respect for the compliementarity of women. The preferential treatment of the poor starts with each of us in our family and neighborhoods, as I have never seen a bureaucracy wipe a runny nose or deal with a fever. The GOP was the party built on the issues of women’s right to vote and antislavery and the championing of the Civil Rights bill signed by LBJ. It was the Catholic Democrats that allowed the issue of life to slip supporting people like Ted Kennedy and any candidate with a “D” after their name. It was Catholics clergy or lay that let the Chicago machine survive. Where was their march to stop that? What about the excessive demands of unions that are driving our states into bankruptcy or the antifamily policies and curricula that have been so hostile to the traditional family the unions have supported? What about the divorce laws that drive mothers into poverty with no sense of justice in the no-fault divorce laws that have made lawyers rich?
    And now, we have the issue of trying to bend over backwards with the LCWR and our charity programs like CCHD that have worked against parental rights in education, our solutions for affordable energy sans the crazy organizations like the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and all the encouragement for more illegal versus legal immigration. The USCCB has not shown a desire to change in any quick fashion.
    The fact is Catholics have had a great influence in the Republican Party. Look at the judges appointed to the Supreme Court? Is it a mistake that Catholics shine when it comes to Constitutional Law? Paul Ryan is a well formed Cathoic and he can speak with a freedom about the dignity of the person instead of the rights of a collective. We have a place at the table. The #2 is a Catholic, a solid Catholic. He will speak well for women, families and freedom of religion because he is one of us.
    Stop complaining and elect more Catholic Republican politicians. Get involved in local central committees and state committee. This is not the 1920′s. Catholics are mainstream, now start acting like it.

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  • BobRN

    I may be too optimistic for my own good, but I don’t have any doubt that Romney and the Republicans will toss the HHS mandate, and work to toss the rest of Obamacare with it, if elected. There’s no reason not to toss it. If they don’t, than his Republican administration will own it. But, it will likely never stand up to a challenge in the courts, so if he owns it, and it loses in the courts, it will be seen as a loss for his administration. Plus, there’s every reason to toss it, because if they don’t, they’ll have hell to pay from all the Catholics who vote Republican this year. Catholics have left the Democratic party in droves, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become all doe-eyed toward Republicans. Many (most?) Catholics now regard themselves as independent voters, with little allegiance to either party. 73% of Catholics regard the HHS mandate as an attack on freedom of religion. The Republicans would be idiots to ignore that. What in the world would they gain by not tossing out the HHS mandate?

  • Mark D

    This article shows an appalling lack of knowledge as to what corporate profits are. Profits are morally neutral. Profits do not always represent greed because profits are not anyone’s money yet. They can become someone’s money, it is true, but not initially. It all depends on how the corporations use that money. The profits can become new jobs for the unemployed. They can become new places of business in hurting communities. They can bolster retirement funds. They can be used to provide cheaper foods and services which help us all. Anytime we tax a corporation, we do not do a single thing to help the greedy souls who often, I admit, populate our corporations; however, we do lessen the good that corporations often do. Why do we tax so much of the money that no one possesses yet? Let’s tax it after it is actually in someone’s hands, or, at the very least, relieve the tax burden on the corporations that accomplish some of the things that I have listed.