Cardinal Dolan, President Obama, The Dinner, and A Lesson
So, for the most part, we here at The Catholic Realist have stayed away from discussions about politics – even Catholic politics. I can’t speak for my fellow realists, but I often find that political discussions, no matter how well-intentioned – end up divisive and destructive. However, every so often a story grabs my attention and I feel like it’s worth a comment.
Indulge me for a moment, won’t you?
According to reports, Dolan has extended an invitation to President Obama to the annual Al Smith dinner in New York City. The president, reportedly, has accepted. The dinner is one of the most prestigious political events in New York City particularly during a presidential election year and candidates from both parties usually attend.
Known for its lighthearted political speeches, the major speakers deliver a series of self-deprecating jokes while ribbing their opponent at the same time. In October 2008, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama both attended the dinner, accepting an invitation by Cardinal Egan of New York. During the dinner, Cardinal Eagan expressed his “delight” that Obama and McCain had attended, called them “outstanding exemplary Americans.”
But this year, some Catholics are surprised to hear that Archbishop Dolan had invited Obama, now that he is president. Should the Archbishop associate a fundraiser for Catholic Charities with a leader whose administration remains defiantly opposed to Church moral teachings?
It’s not unprecedented in a presidential election year for a candidate not to be invited. In 1996, Cardinal O’Connor did not invite President Clinton or Senator Dole to the dinner and, in 2004, neither Sen. John Kerry nor President Bush were invited.
Obama’s attendance at the dinner this year could be awkward, particularly since the Catholic Church’s relationship with Obama has been severely tested in the battle over his administration’s contraception coverage mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to Dolan, Obama assured that his administration would not “impede” the work of the Catholic Church. But once the mandate was issued, Catholic bishops publicly denounced the move, calling it a threat to religious freedom. What’s worse, administration officials who met with the bishops about the mandate refused to compromise in any meaningful way.
– From Crisis Magazine
“Obama’s attendance at the dinner this year could be awkward…” Awkward? Talk about an understatement! The invitation itself has inflamed the ire of Catholics across the country.
Jason Jones, Catholic film producer and advocate for the dignity of human life around the globe had this to say:
Man-up Catholics! We should be plotting a coup d’etat not inviting the enemy of the Church to our parties!
Michael Hichborn of the American Life League said:
“Regardless of what they’ve done in the past, it is unthinkable for a Catholic charity to invite the man [President Obama] seeking the destruction of religious freedom in America to a fundraising event. This sends the wrong message to pew-sitting Catholics, who are anxiously looking to our bishops to stand up and fight against this clear enemy of the Church who will be joining them for dinner.”
Even Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life got in on the anti-Obama action saying,
“I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the president’s policies vs. respecting his office,” he said in a statement. “But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.”
There’s a whole group of Catholics who have started an online petition begging Cardinal Dolan to rescind his invitation to the President.
We find it to be an outrage and a scandal that in light of ongoing court litigation due to President Obama’s HHS Mandate forcing Catholic organizations to violate conscience, shut down ministries, or pay an excessive tax to continue operations, that one of the most recognizable Cardinals in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama at an election year event that the world will be sure to receive as you giving him your tacit blessing.
We the undersigned prayerfully implore you to halt this travesty immediately and call on you to uphold the sacred mission of your Catholic Diocese. May God grant you the courage and wisdom to do what is right.
Those of you who know my tendency toward argument and my proclivity for contradiction won’t be surprised to find that I respectfully disagree with these fellow Catholics. Read More