Cardinal Dolan Compounds His First Mistake

Cardinal Dolan Compounds His First Mistake August 29, 2012

Regarding Cardinal Dolan’s decision to offer a benediction – a blessing – following Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech on the final evening of the Republican National Convention, I recently wrote:

In a sense, it will be the final piece of business at the GOP convention, and it puts Cardinal Dolan in the position of offering what Mirriam-Webster defines as “the invocation of a blessing; especially: the short blessing with which public worship is concluded.” When the balloons have all hit the floor and the assembled crowd is finally hoarse, when the last strains of Kid Rock’s “Born Free” have faded away, Cardinal Dolan will ascend the platform and “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” he will say … whatever. No one will be listening, really. All that will matter is that he is there and that his imprimatur has been definitively conferred on all that has gone before. That is what is so disappointing about this. I would be equally disgusted if Dolan were offering a similar blessing at the Democratic Convention. Dorothy Day, Servant of God, pray for us.

Now, Cardinal Dolan has announced that he will offer a similar “service” at the Democratic National Convention. In response, I wrote in the same comment thread, below:

I … think it is a huge mistake for Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, president of the USCCB, to ascend the platform at the Democratic National Convention and offer a benediction following the acceptance speech of its nominee, President Barack Obama. Charlotte has its own bishop, who could have offered a welcoming invocation. But for Cardinal Dolan to walk on that stage, after all that will have gone on before, and stand at the same lectern as Cecile Richards, Sandra Fluke, and the president of NARAL, is an abomination. Cardinal Dolan apparently considers himself pastor to the political elite in this country, but in fact he soils the reputation of the Church and his own reputation by appearing at either of these contrived, corporate, deeply anti-Catholic events. It would have been far better for him to lead prayer vigils on the streets outside both conventions: a vigil for peace and the poor in Tampa, a vigil for the unborn and families in Charlotte.

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  • Kurt

    We have Mark Gorden saying it is an abomination for a prelate to stand at the same lectern Sandra Fluke stood at 48 hours earlier. This is the woman declared a “slut” by the most listened to conservative in America. I guess Dolan could make it even worse than an abomination if he stood with her at the same moment at a well in Samaria.

    And then we have the good Catholics of Georgetown University compassionately accepting her as part of the university community in Christian love and friendship.

    • Mark Gordon

      Nice partisan try, Kurt. And utterly predictable, as usual, trying to build a protective moat around your party, it’s platform and policies. And, I must say, attempting to define me into Limbaugh’s orbit is rich. Very creative. No, it’s not an abomination because Ms. Fluke will have stood there. It’s an abomination because it’s the platform of the Democratic National Convention, as abominable a place as the platform in Tampa.

      • Kurt

        Nothing partisan. Predicable, I’ll accept. This is what I have long believed and I’ve expressed it here before. I participate in the American democratic process. I encourage my Republican friends to participate in their party. I encourage all Americans to participate in other civic, labor, political and cultural organizations. I work with other human beings with all of their flaws and their wonderful tolerance of my many flaws in the human, imperfect political organizations that fallen man assembles in.

        Now the advantage of sitting on the sidelines because one has such an intellectual and moral superiority over the politics of 95% of the population has it joys, such as not having to actually dirty oneself with other human beings and their “abominable” views on public policy.

        I’ll take actual human interaction with my fellow citizens at the Party clubhouse, union convention, NAACP branch meeting, parish supper, theatre night with Hadassah, or the annual dinner of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. I’ll meet people who are stridently pro-abortion rights, some who are hard line defense hawks, and some I suspect are Trots. None of these folks are abominations. It Is not an abomination that they are involved in political action in their country. I may think some of them are gravely mistaken on greatly important issues. Spiritually, I know that they are children of God. Politically, there have been people I’ve come to know from these organizations that I never thought I would agree with on anything. Then an issue comes up and I pick up the phone to say “Hi, this is Kurt. We met at the “X” and I was hoping you could come to a meeting next week that I think you will be interested in.”

  • Todd

    While I don’t necessarily agree with blogger Gordon that Dolan creates an abomination by the Church by attending these events, I do agree he should not be there. For different reasons, perhaps. Dolan is making political, subject to a vote, the teachings of Jesus and the Church. If he had to attend one, I guess it’s best that he attend both. Best would be staying away entirely from the whole election year madness. Sadly, this is the sort of thing I have come to expect from my church leaders during an election year.

  • Julia Smucker

    I too would prefer he not offer benedictions at any partisan political events, and I agree that prayer vigils outside both conventions would have been a much better witness. But I also find myself strangely relieved that he is doing this little prayer gig at both conventions rather than just one, because at least it ceases to send a message of a partisan Church. This gives me a bit more hope that he may indeed take the opportunity for a “Mahoney-like” critique of both parties, rather than giving the appearance of blessing them. I guess we’ll see.

  • dave carlin

    I think Dolan has done the right thing in both cases. The RC Church made some gigantic mistakes in the 19th and early 20th centuries when it allied itself with rightwing European political parties. There is no question that today’s Democratic Party, at least at the national level, is an anti-Christianity party, dominated ideologically by atheists and semi-atheists. And so the temptation is great for the Church to ally itself with the GOP. But it’s a temptation to be resisted, for if succumbed do it will do tremendous damage to the Church in the long run. (The Republicans may be marginally better than the Dems, but GOP does not stand for “God’s Own Party.”) The Church must be above all political parties, not a partner — except of course on some particular issue — with any party: neither Communist nor Fascist, neither Democrat nor Republican.

    • Jordan

      dave carlin [August 29, 2012 1:38 pm]: There is no question that today’s Democratic Party, at least at the national level, is an anti-Christianity party, dominated ideologically by atheists and semi-atheists. And so the temptation is great for the Church to ally itself with the GOP.

      I understand why dave carlin would characterize the Democratic Party as “atheistic”. Still, I do not see this as a basal position of the Dems in the duopolistic political universe. Rather, the Democratic Party is at its foundation the “secular republican” party, and the GOP is the “theonormative republican” party. The absurd and profound dichotomization of both parties in many aspects of public policy has resulted in two cariactured and mutually exclusive perceptions from either side of the aisle with regard to “religion”, e.g.

      (“Right”) Democrats : atheism/immorality :: GOP : morality/values

      (“Left”) GOP : theonomy :: Democrats : secular state/”separation of church and state”

      The absurdity of these analogies demonstrates that the irreparable “brokenness” of the American duopoly generates political distortions significantly greater than the sum of the duopoly’s parts. An uncritical evaluation of the Democrats as “atheistic” ignores the innumerable distortions in the GOP internal understanding of “religion” or “values”.

      dave carlin [August 29, 2012 1:38 pm]: The Church must be above all political parties, not a partner — except of course on some particular issue — with any party: neither Communist nor Fascist, neither Democrat nor Republican.

      And yet, what is Church without imperium? I do not see how Catholicism after institutionalization can understand itself as the embodiment of infinite mercy and compassion without also self-identification as the absolute source of divine order and law in temporal affairs. The Church’s attraction to political conservativism and (in extreme cases) rightist fascism flows from the inherent theonormative orientation of political conservatism. It is only natural for the Church to seek power within a political perspective that views theonomy and an end and not as an obstacle. The danger resides in the collaboration of Catholicism with regimes which suppress or even destroy human dignity in the name of “Church”.

  • Well said, Mark. Catholics are politically homeless in terms of the two major political parties in the United States. I think this should inform the Church’s approach to both of those parties.

    • gadria

      Catholics are not politically homeless as the current 55/45 split in favor of the Republican Party indicates. In many ways this 45/55 50/50 swaying in the political cultural winds is a very natural political behavior – typically summed up ‘as the wisdom of the american voters’.
      I think we all should relax – sure we ought to fight hard for our views in order to slowly claw our way back to political power and relevance – but homeless most of us are not at all.

      • I meant in principle, we should feel homeless. Any truly objective assessment reveals that both parties’ policies are antithetical to Christian charity. They both are instruments of imperialism, militarism, and neglect of the poor and powerless.

      • White Catholics are split. Black and Latino Catholics are not.

        • And black and Latino are the “universal Church” now–not white Europeans or Americans. Minion’s reply here is immensely prophetic of what’s going to happen to American Catholics in the coming decades of the 21st century: they’re going to be massively outvoted where it counts–in papal conclaves.

  • I think that it depends largely on what the Cardinal prays when he gets up there. There is nothing un-Christian about going into the houses of sinners, so long as one does not endorse the sin, but instead speaks exclusively of a better Way.

  • As I read the list of speakers on both sides, I saw one possible benefit.

    Without Cdl. Dolan, I suspect the Democratic Party was planning on making the “war on women” and Sandra Fluke a prominent part of their convention, with perhaps Fluke delivering a speech about how evil those who would deny contraceptive coverage are.

    It seems this will be more difficult to do when one of the main people opposing that policy will be delivering the closing blessing.

    Maybe they will anyway. Maybe it’s not a good thing for the parties to hide their true selves. It just seems like it would be difficult to make the bishops the Bad Guy when their chief spokesman is sitting right there.

    Not sure that makes it worthwhile or not, but a potential upside.

    • Kurt

      So far, the Catholic Georgetown University has found Ms. Fluke to be a person that the University strongly disagrees with but who has been respectful about her disagreement while the University. On the other hand, the Unviersity has expressed is deep sorrow that some of her critics have been beyond disrespectful to the point of vile.

      Agree or disagree with Ms. Fluke, she has already shown herself to be a person of more decency than some of her critics and to be a person can disagree with a Catholic institution on one matter and work in community with it on another.

      I think Ms. Fluke would exhibit her natural decency regardless of who else is speaking or praying at the Convention. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with her.

      • That Sandra Fluke has been subject to vile criticism is irrelevant to the merits of her arguments, or her suitability to speak at the convention. I am sorry she was subject to these attacks, and wish they didn’t happen. But that a jerk called her a slut does not magically change that she was wrong, and is indeed made herself the point person in opposing the Church’s ability to be itself. I can say that without aligning myself with Rush Limbaugh’s comments. And the Democratic Party has made her the central character in a “war on women” narrative so they need not defend the HHS mandate on the merits. And no, I don’t believe that Ms. Fluke’s natural decency would prevent her from playing he assigned role in that narrative as the woman those mean old white men want to control and won’t even let her talk about it.

        And frankly, I’m not positive that Sandra Fluke is a person who can disagree with on one matter and work with on another. If Ms. Fluke has her way, Catholic institutions would have to cease being Catholic in how they go about their business. If I told you that I’ll work with you on abortion so long as you shut up about the poor, is that really me being a person you can disagree with but work with, or someone who is making you be less than who you are as a condition of working with you?

        • Kurt

          If your point is that Ms. Fluke shouldn’t speak because you don’t agree with her, all I can say is that I think she should speak because I do agree with her support for contraception as a basic benefit in health care plans.

          If your point is not that you disagree with her but she expresses that disagreement in a nasty manner, I have to say that I have found her a more respectful person with those she disagrees with than you have in your posts above. She is a total class act.

          Georgetown University currently offers contraceptive coverage to its employees but not its students. Ms. Fluke and I think students should gain access to contraceptive coverage directly from the insurance company. You can characterize that as you want.

        • Can you please quote my disrespectful passages.

          Whether Sandra Fluke “should” speak at the convention is not my decision.

          What I can say is how I respond to the DNC’s decision to feature a speaker whose most notable accomplishments are playing a role in an orchestrated narrative and being called a nasty name by Rush Limbaugh in support of a cause to restrict my Church.

          And yes, the RNC decided to hand its microphone to an 80 year old actor and director without a script. I’m not claiming one is superior.

          The DNC can do what it wants, and I will respond accordingly.

        • Kurt

          Can you please quote my disrespectful passages.

          Where you suggested she would likely make personal attacks on Cardinal Dolan and other people rather than speak on policy and not personalities.

          Maybe rather than talk about contraception as a basic health benefit for women, she will make a nasty comment about evil, old, white, celibate beer drinking (east coast)/wine drinking (west coast) prelates. I don’t think she will and if she did, I would speak out against her action. But I will wait for her do so first.

      • Can you please tell me when Bart Stupak’s speech during the convention will be?

        I mean, if the convention has time for someone like Sandra Fluke, whose most notable accomplishment is being called a slut by Rush Limbaugh, and it’s her basic decency would prevent her from playing that out as the first casualty in a war on women, then I would think they would have time for someone who worked hard to help make the ACA, the crowning achievement of the Obama Administration, pro-life.

        So, when will he be speaking?

        • Kurt

          Those of us who are active pro-life Democrats are working with the National Committee for an appropriate role at the Convention. My hope is that the Party will continue to work with us rather than respond to some demand spurted out by those without any connection to pro-life Democrats.

  • Chris Sullivan

    Nah, I think it’s a GREAT idea for a leading Catholic to speak the faith to both conventions, which will include criticisms of the parties various failings !

    Bravo Cdl Dolan !

    God Bless

  • Carl Diederichs

    Homeless is not a bad place for prophets to be. If we preach peace and justice and raise up issues such as poverty and wealth and the need for community instead of selfish individualism, we will see that our prophetic words challenge both parties without demonizing anyone. We need to remember as someone on Vox Nova said recently that there were fewer abortions during pro-choice Clinton’s terms then during pro-life (lOL) Bush’s terms.

  • fr. patrick mullen

    I consider these two benedictions, and the flurry of press that has accompanied them, as opportunities for challenge and really, well, blessings. They also strike me as in keeping with Jesus’ own practice of associating with the “uncomfortable” and “questionable,” call them “sinners” even, if you will.

    Matt 9:10-13 — “While [Jesus] was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

  • Has Cardinal Dolan actually been asked to offer a prayer at the Democratic convention, or has he just offered to do so?

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      He offered, has been invited, and has accepted.

  • I’m not sure I agree with Mark on this one. I would prefer is Dolan for once resisted the urge to seize the limelight. It was a huge mistake taking the bait set by Republicans – the people who ran an ad claiming JP 2 was endorsing them from beyond the grave! But the current situation is still better than the original.

    I would love Dolan to follow the advice of my friend Michael Sean Winters, by telling the Republicans that God “sends the rich away empty” the Democrats that “before you were formed in the womb, I knew you”. That would be great!

    • Kurt

      The Cardinal is getting a lot of advice of what to pray. Some of it is very wise. But it must be difficult and troubling for him to discern what advice is best and what the situation calls for.

      My only advice (and from personal experience, not theological or social wisdom) is that when a situation is particularly difficult and tough, there is only one proven and dependable way to go……Ave Maria, gratia plena…

    • Cardinal Dolan would be far more likely to do the latter than the former, but the next pope will do both very forcefully, I predict–and in the teeth of ALL American “movers and shakers.”

  • Nate Wildermuth

    I understand where you are coming from Mark. What comes to my mind is the story of Fr. George Zabelka, the Catholic chaplain who blessed the air crews that dropped the atomic bombs.

    But Cardinal Dolan does have a chance to perform some works of mercy: ‘rebuking the sinner’, ‘instructing the ignorant’, etc. But he’s not there for a sermon, is he? He’s there to offer a blessing.

    That reminds me of something else: the tendency to turn prayers of the faithful into political statements, especially in parishes where the prayers are actually opened up to the faithful. I think it is pretty easy to turn prayers into sermons, and then instead of talking to God, we’re really just talking to ourselves.

    Perhaps the good Cardinal Dolan is just being humble, and accepting offers like a simple dove, while being led to speak with the shrewdness of a . . . serpent? There’s a zinger of a Gospel verse for you:

    “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt 10:16).

    • Mark Gordon

      Perhaps, Nate. But the fact is that his very presence at these events lends them a credibility, a Catholic credibility, that they do not deserve. If he’s booed of the stage in both places, I’ll change my view.

  • Maybe–just maybe–you Caholics who are being played as suckers might be interested in knowing what Mitt Romney REALLY thinks about some of your peculiar “religious beliefs”–such as “Catholic Social Justice Teachings”:

    “I remember a story from when he was in high school — I guess it was a little after high school,” Tagg Romney said. “His friend was getting married. And he found his way into the hotel room ahead of time, and the groom’s outfit was there. He took some pink nail polish and wrote on the first shoe, ‘H-E,’ on the sole, and on the next one, ‘L-P.’ And no one noticed it. It was a Catholic wedding, and when he knelt down to be blessed by the father, the word ‘HELP’ appeared.”
    My Dad said it was hilarious.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/9345835/Mitt-Romneys-sons-did-not-want-him-to-run-for-president.html
    Romney to himself:
    “Ha,ha,ha! Embarass those stupid Papists! Oh my, I swear to Elohim on the planet Kolob it was the funniest thing I ever saw! All those dumb Catholics with their ridiculous beliefs, the mothers of the bride and groom both in tears, it was one of my best pranks ever!”

    • Bill Wilson

      I think you are really stretching things to transform a practical joke of questionable taste into an assault on the Catholic Chirch. Your personal and political bias against Romney have overshadowed your rational objectivity.

      • Excuse me, but that’s HIS OWN SON recounting that incident. It’s from the very bosom of his family; I don’t think you could get any more authoratative regarding his sentiments about Catholics.

  • Mark Gordon

    Here’s the text of Cardinal Dolan’s benediction at the GOP convention:

    With firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, let us pray. Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call america home. We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life. Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.

    We lift up to your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms, drought and fire. We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.

    Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us, and on those who would govern us: the president, and vice-president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. And Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.

    Almighty God who gives us the sacred and inalienable gift of life, we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty. Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom. Make us truly free by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope and love, prudently and with justice, courageously and in a spirit of moderation. Enkindle in our hearts a new sense of responsibility for freedom’s cause and make us ever grateful for all those who for more than two centuries have given their lives in freedom’s defense. We commend their noble souls to your eternal care as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform. May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making.

    Give us the good sense not to caste aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed on our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone. May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self control, our liberty in law. We pray for all those we seek honest labor as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need [with] which you so richly blessed this nation. We beseech your blessing on all who depart this evening and on all those in every land who seek to conduct their lives in freedom. Most of all, Almighty God, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country. For we are indeed one nation under God, and in God we trust. Dear God, bless America, you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

    • Pinky

      A little more political than I expected. A lot more patriotic than I expected – not that I have a problem with that. Love that he prayed for the President. (I didn’t see the speech, but I hope that no one booed.) Glad he prayed for the victims of recent weather. In the last two paragraphs, Cardinal Dolan stuck his finger in the eye of every libertarian in the room. Nice job.

    • Nate Wildermuth

      What do you think, Mark?

    • Mark Gordon

      I think it’s a classic blending of Christianity and American national mythology, but as I said earlier, it wasn’t so much what he would say but where he said it and how that fact would be construed. Years ago, in response to Ronald Reagan’s plan to visit an SS graveyard in Germany, Elie Wiesel implored him to skip the visit, and said, “That place is not your place, Mr. President.” I would say the same to Cardinal Dolan about both of these conventions, though obviously not for the same reasons.

      • Pinky

        Mark, who exactly did Christ not reach out to? I recall him eating with the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the humble, the Jew and Samaritan and even the occupying Roman. Likewise the Church has rarely endorsed or condemned an economic or political system, but constantly tried to steer the people within it to sanctity and a better order. Political parties are legitimate organizations which people join in order to make the world better, as they see it. What group of people needs a bishop more?

        • Mark Gordon

          So, you wouldn’t have any problem with Cardinal Dolan appearing and offering a blessing at, say, a Planned Parenthood national convention, or a meeting of the Sons of the Confederacy? After all, who needs a bishop more, right? In appearing at these two conventions (I don’t know that the Cardinal is offering a benediction to the Green Party or the Constitution Party), and by mixing Christian theology with the standard tropes and slogans of American nationalism, the Cardinal is in fact endorsing a political system and the economic system that sustains and funds it. Now, you may think it’s hunky dory for the Church to be so co-opted, but as I say I would rather the president of the USCCB were on the outside of both the Republican and Democratic conventions, leading prayer vigils for the poor and the unborn, respectively.

          As for the Lord, I seem to recall that he visited both Herod’s Palace and Pilate’s courtyard as a prisoner, not as an invited member of the speaking program.

    • Kurt

      I mean this as a compliment to the Cardinal. Not a word of it is original. It draws from a variety of material that are part of Americana (Declaration of Indpendence, Constitution, letters of Thomas Jefferson, the national motto, the Pledge to the Flag, patriotic hymns, inscriptions on national monuments, etc.).

  • David Nickol

    Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus . . . “

    I have asked this elsewhere, but no one has answered so far. Isn’t it strange to put Jesus in this list? In the eyes of Christians, God is everyone’s father. But God’s fatherhood of all men and women certainly can’t be equated with his fatherhood of Jesus, can it?

    • You’re right! He’s a heretic! Thanks for pointing this out.

    • Mark Gordon

      In fairness, I’m not sure he was trying to “equate” the unique trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son with the universal ‘fatherhood’ of God, any more than Paul was when he wrote in Ephesians, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” or Jesus himself when he said, “When you pray, say ‘our Father …”.

      And no, John, David is not claiming Dolan is a heretic.

      • I occasionally like to act like I’ve been convinced by DN’s trolls rather than feeding them.

        • David Nickol

          I never quite know what to make of sarcasm and name calling in the name of Catholicism. Whatever interest in, and respect for, Catholicism I have, it is in spite of comments like yours. One of the things I like most about Vox Nova is that people discuss ideas here. You didn’t address my idea, you just made a couple of snide personal comments.

        • That’s true I didn’t.

          Pick any organization of which you are not a member. Go to a discussion group for that organization, and suggest that a very public statement made by one of the most prominent leaders of that organization violates one of the fundamental truths professed by that organization (which you don’t claim to believe in), and how strange that is.

          See what kind of reaction you get.

      • David Nickol

        I don’t think he was trying to equate the sonship of ordinary human beings to the sonship of Jesus, but he used a formulation that I have never heard before, and a Google search seems to indicate that the words “Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus” appear that way in nothing searchable except Cardinal Dolan’s speech.

        I just discovered that someone else (Scott P. Richert) raised the same question:

        On the most basic level, these words are true. God is the “father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.” Why, though, did Cardinal Dolan not use the common ecumenical formulation “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”? Perhaps because, by including Jesus in the list, it seemed wrong: We don’t refer to God as “the God of Jesus.”

        So “father of” it is. But logically, when we say that something or someone is the A of X, Y, and Z, we mean that it or he has the same relationship—A—to X as he does to Y and Z.

        But that’s not the case here. God is the Father of Jesus in a way that goes beyond His being the father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and the father of all of us). That’s because Jesus is something more than another Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob (or another one of us). Fully man, He is also fully God, and thus God’s fatherhood of Jesus is ontologically different from His fatherhood of us, because Jesus is the only begotten Son of God—that is, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

        I don’t think it is a trivial point. I would bet if a theology student used that phrase, his or her professor would question it.

        • Mark Gordon

          Richert is wrong, as I showed in my quote from Ephesians: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …”

        • Julia Smucker

          Right, “the God of Jesus” works, but on the other hand, Richert’s explanation of the analogous relationships implied by the juxtaposition (A is to X as he is to Y and Z) explains why the formulation sounds weird.

        • David Nickol

          But would anyone say, “Praise be to the God and Father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Our Lord Jesus Christ”? I don’t think so.

          • Mark Gordon

            No, I suppose not. But it is also true that God is the “Father” of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, AND Jesus, though he is “Father” in a different way for the Christ than he is for the first three. But of course, the benediction at a political convention is hardly the place to make fine theological distinctions, especially in the presence of adherents of other faiths (or no faith). Clearly, he was simply invoking the broad Abrahamic tradition.

        • David Nickol

          But of course, the benediction at a political convention is hardly the place to make fine theological distinctions, especially in the presence of adherents of other faiths (or no faith).

          It seems to me that speaking to adherents of other faiths or no faith, one ought to be especially careful to avoid novel, problematic formulations. You are exactly right, and it is the point I am making, that God is the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he is the Father of Jesus, but in different ways. So stringing them all together sounds odd. It is a little like saying that George Washington was the father of our country and the step-father of Martha’s two children by her first marriage. It is like saying, “Mary, mother of Jesus and the Church . . . . “

          • Mark Gordon

            Okay, but I think you really are making a mountain out of a molehill. Why, I have no idea. There were larger problems with the prayer that are far more worthy of emphasis, in my view.

        • Thales

          Hhm, maybe I’m weird, but “Mary, mother of Jesus and the Church” doesn’t sound that strange to me at all.

        • Opening line from RNC: “Almighty God, Father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg Your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom and on all those who proudly call America home.”

          Opening line from DNC: “Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation.”

          Problem fixed.

          • Mark Gordon

            Thank God.

        • Kurt

          Seems to have given the same prayer except taking into account the comments made by Vox Novans on that line. Glad he reads and is influenced by this blog.

          I think hindsight shows that there was no great difficultly in Dolan giving prayers. It certainly came at a little viewed part of the conventions.

          What is interesting is that the DNConvention did give a Catholic religious a prime speaking part that was widely viewed. For all the pre-convention sturm und drang that Dolan might be giving the RNC a Catholic moment, it turned out to be the DNC that did. (along with Romney failing to thank our troops in his acceptance speech).

      • Julia Smucker

        I was thinking how subversive the “Our Father” sounds amid the cacophony of politics. It would have been a refreshing corrective to the end of Dolan’s prayer, which struck me as verging on patriolatry.

        • Mark Gordon

          I’m with you, Julia, both about the Our Father and the fact that prayer, as written and delivered, verged on something very distasteful, at least to me.

  • Ronald King

    I do not see Cardinal Dolan’s benediction as a prayer, rather, I see it as subliminal manipulation.

  • Julia Smucker
    • Mark Gordon

      Thanks for this amazing commentary. Collier gets it!

    • dominic1955

      I think its a little overblown. I think they also gut their own argument about His Eminence kowtowing to American exceptionalism and a libertarian view of liberty that is actually license to us etc. when they say later down the line that he does know the true sense of freedom! Maybe, just maybe, he threw some words in there knowing he’s doing a prayer to close a secular (and, from their platform, pretty anti-Christian) political convention as what could be seen as a major religious leader. Is he praising America? Yep, but considering the context, who cares. I, for one, would have loved if he got up their in his simar and ferraiolone and did a decade of the rosary at both conventions, but he didn’t and that’s OK.

      • Kurt

        Heck, Dominic. To balance out Sr. Simone, I would have loved it if the GOP would have given Michael Voris a speaking slot in prime time with Thomas Peters leading the performing artists at the Honey Pot in a decade of the rosary.

        • Mark Gordon

          Tee hee.

        • Jordan

          Ouch! +1, as usual.

  • Pingback: What Dolan Said « Vox Nova()

  • American Catholics, in both parties and independents, are trying to sort out lots of things in preparation of the November elections, so I think Cd. Dolan praying at both conventions is appropriate. The Church isn’t “in” or “out” of either party and neither party “has” nor “excludes” Catholics.