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In Defense of Cardinal Dolan

Chances are you’ve already caught wind of the firestorm that is brewing around the annual Al Smith Dinner. For those unfamiliar, the entire controversy is based largely on unverified, secondhand, claims that Cardinal Timothy Dolan has extended an invitation to attend the prestigious event as a co-keynote speaker to President Barack Obama – the most aggressive proponent of abortion-on-demand the Oval Office has ever seen. Well don’t you believe a word of it.

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner is a more than half-a-century old tradition; a white tie affair named in honor of former New York Governor, Al Smith, who was the first Roman Catholic presidential candidate in U.S. history.

In election years, the presidential candidates from both major parties are typically (not always, but typically) invited to speak, not to rehash well-known policy positions; but rather to address those in attendance in more jovial tones while “roasting” their political adversary with good-natured humor.

The annual event, held each October, is hosted by the Archbishop of New York. It represents a great opportunity for the candidates to show their more “human” side to prospective voters, but even more importantly, it also makes for a rather powerful “photo-op” wherein the presidential contenders share light-hearted moments of fellowship and laughter with some of the most influential members of the American hierarchy; images that undoubtedly signal (whether intentionally or not on the part of the host-prelate) the stamp of Catholic acceptability that every candidate covets.

It is in light of the quasi-official imprimatur that is naturally imputed by such an appearance that I refuse to believe that there is any way on God’s green earth that Cardinal Timothy Dolan is going to allow Barack Obama to bask by his side in such an honorable light as this.

The spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York has been asked numerous times to confirm the vicious rumors that Obama has already received Cardinal Dolan’s invitation; so too has White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and each has steadfastly refused to do so. Even so, some in the media, Catholic and otherwise, still feel justified in risking calumny by calling into question the integrity of the Cardinal Archbishop.

The invitation is far from a given based on recent history alone as both Bill Clinton and John Kerry were denied the honor of attending the Al Smith Dinner based on their own anti-life positions. How dare anyone imply that Cardinal Dolan, who said that Notre Dame made a “big mistake” by inviting President Obama to deliver their 2009 commencement address, is going to fail to do otherwise?

“There’s a lot of things that President Obama does that we can find ourselves allied with… but in an issue that is very close to the heart of the Catholic world view, namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb, he has unfortunately taken a position very much at odds with the Church,” Dolan said in his public condemnation of the Notre Dame affair.

And now we’re supposed to believe that the Cardinal has since softened his position, as though he and Obama have found common ground with regard to the dignity of human life – the most fundamental principle of Catholic social doctrine? This after the president betrayed Cardinal Dolan’s trust by reneging on his personal assurances that the Administration would not impede the good work of the Church via mandate? Certainly not!

Look, Cardinal Dolan is no fool; he’s well aware of who and what he’s dealing with.

He knows that 54% of self-identified “Catholics” cast a ballot in favor of Barack Obama back in 2008; a man who has since removed all doubt as to his anti-Christian agenda and bald-faced duplicitousness.

With the Al Smith Dinner taking place mere weeks before the election, everyone with an ounce of common sense and a mustard seed’s worth of faith, not the least of whom is Cardinal Dolan, understands what’s at stake.

He knows how critically important it is for the American episcopate, beginning with the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to avoid giving any appearance that a Catholic may in good conscience cast a vote for such a recalcitrant enemy of Holy Mother Church as Barack Hussein Obama.

Perhaps those who are suggesting otherwise don’t realize just how grave their allegations truly are.

Maybe they don’t know that they are essentially saying that Cardinal Dolan is about to unleash a scandal of epic proportions by abandoning his duties as shepherd; sowing the seeds of confusion and death among the flock he has pledged to protect unto martyrdom.

And for what? So he might be applauded for his “open-mindedness” by the enemies of Christ the King?

Not a chance!

Let us put the rumors aside and resolve to pray for Cardinal Dolan, that this Prince of Holy Church may remain steadfast and true in defending the integrity of his exalted office and the good of the souls entrusted to his care.


Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for Catholic News Agency since April 2009. His work, which includes Year of Faith resources like the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England; Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com.


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  • yosephdaviyd

    Thanks for a different perspective, but your article has a few problems. The first is that having been written on August 7, and still be claiming that the invitation to Obama has not been confirmed, when it is clearly on the Al Smith Website and easily verifiable by a call to the Arch Diocese Communications Office.

    Second, as I wrote in my article, if Cardinal John O’Conner didn’t invite pro-abort Bill Clinton in 1996, and if Cardinal Egan didn’t invite pro-abort John Kerry in 2004, then on what grounds could Cardinal Dolan find to invite Obama in 2012?

    Dolan’s problem is that he is a nice guy – he doesn’t go out of his way to make enemies. He’s a politician. He’s a soft foot peddler. We don’t need that right now from our Bishop’s. We need them to be martyrs. We need them to not be afraid.

    What Dolan is about to do is what Egan did in 2008. He is about to give tacit approval of Obama, despite the fact that he is trying to destroy us – despite the fact that we are in court with him right now. He is about to give him honor and platform. Dolan is about to deliver the Catholic majority to Obama once again. This is the scandal (technically scandalum datum and acceptum) that we refer to.

  • florin

    Aug. 9th: Yes, the invitation is on the website and it’s been said that the call is to put ‘politics’ aside. The massive slaughter of preborn human babies in the wombs of their mothers is not ‘politics’ and cannot and must not be put aside for a time of drinking and laughing and partying together. While the party goes on, human babies continue to be slaughtered. And, if Obama does go to the dinner, you can be sure that he will use the dinner and pictures of himself with Cardinal Dolan as a platform to show wavering Catholics that they can vote for him since he is in good standing with the Hierarchy. Pope Benedict refused to meet with Nancy Pelosi publicly so she would not be able to use their meeting as a platform to show that she is in line with the Church. Father Jennings invited Obama to Notre Dame to speak and to be given an award. How did that turn out? Obama doubled down in his attacks against the teachings of the Catholic Church with high profile ‘Catholics’. Obama and his team are the architects of evil…they deliberately chose dissident Catholics to stand with them so they know what they are doing and how to exploit every situation. If Obama is given a leg-up by attending the Al Smith dinner and wins the election, beware. He is saying that he will not ‘cave in’ to the Catholic Church – he will aggressively promote abortion and same sex marriage and no one will be able to stop him. So, I hope and pray that he will not be at the Al Smith dinner…