Cardinal Timothy Dolan may be fighting the Obama administration over birth control mandates, but he is still heading to Charlotte next week to deliver the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention. The cardinal is performing the same role at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Thursday. Our Grace Rauh has the story on Dolan's role at the two biggest political gatherings this year.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan might want to consider swapping his red robe for a blue one next week. He is heading to Charlotte to deliver the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention. But first, he will be here in Tampa to give a benediction at the Republican National Convention.
“He is giving us spiritual guidance, he is praying with us. It's a wonderful thing and we are glad to have him. And I think the Democrats finally wised up and realized it would be a good idea to have him too,” said Queens City Councilor Eric Ulrich.
The Republicans extended the invitation first. Critics said Dolan's decision to go to Tampa reeked of partisanship. His spokesman insisted that the appearance was not an endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Dolan indicated he would be willing to pray with the Democrats at their convention as well.
His presence in Tampa, though, seems like a more natural fit. Cardinal Dolan opposes abortion and gay marriage. He is also a vocal critic of the Obama administration's mandate that employers, including many religious organizations, provide birth control on their health insurance plans.
A co-chairman of the group Catholics for Obama did not seem too concerned about the policy differences Dolan has with the President.
"I think policy is one thing and prayers are something else and what we are talking about here is an invocation not all of America is going to agree about policy, but I think we call all recognize the importance of religion in the public square," said Stephen Schneck, Catholics for Obama.
A spokesman for Cardinal Dolan said in a statement, "It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate."
Indeed, despite his disagreements with the White House, Dolan did invite President Obama and Mitt Romney to New York for the annual Alfred E. Smith dinner. The October party will raise money for Catholic charities. Some Catholics said the President should not have been invited.