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Prayer for the godless party: Dems call Cardinal Dolan's bluff

August 28, 2012|By Michael McGough
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan is seen leaving a meeting at the New York State Capitol in Albany. Dolan says he's now giving the closing prayer at both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan is seen leaving a meeting at the New York State Capitol… (Stewart Cairns / Associated…)

Bless you, Father, for you have not sinned against the separation of church and campaign.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to offer the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention as well as the Republican convention is a shrewd way to tamp down controversy about the Catholic hierarchy's seeming transformation into the Republican party at prayer.

The real shrewdness, of course, came from the Democratic Party, which called Dolan's bluff by inviting him to invoke God's blessing on what many Republicans consider a godless party. It's arguably less of a reach for Obama than having Rick Warren pray at his inauguration.

GOOGLE+ HANGOUT: Join Doyle McManus live from the RNC

I still think Dolan allowed himself to be used by accepting the Republican invitation, which was obviously an attempt to underscore his agreement with the Catholic bishops that the Obama administration is engaged in a war on religious liberty. But the cardinal was careful at the time to indicate that he was an equal-opportunity invocator. Now each party gets a tip o' the miter from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Republicans can still spin Dolan's appearance as a tacit endorsement of their party and its solidarity with the hierarchy on "religious liberty" and abortion. Democrats can argue -- although this is a tougher sell -- that Dolan's prayer at their convention dramatizes the fact that, when it comes to the church's social teaching, they are the true believers while the GOP worships at the shrine of St. Ayn Rand.

Romney's attempt to grab on to Dolan's vestments was an example of the sin of covetousness. For his penance, he must now watch His Eminence ask the Lord to bless the non-job-creators.

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