Is anyone really surprised?
Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention last week was filled with doubletalk calling for an end to abortion rights, gay marriage, and contraceptive coverage. Dolan gave a similar benediction at the Republican National Convention. The Archdiocese of New York, of which Dolan is Archbishop, gave a statement that Dolan would pray at both conventions “solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate.”
Dolan’s prayer showed otherwise.
Here are three things that raise a red flag in Dolan’s DNC benediction:
• His prayer against abortion rights
Dolan prayed, “We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected."
Dolan has consistently spoken out against abortion rights and the DNC was no exception. After a week of hearing politicians support women’s right to choose, Dolan’s prayer for “those waiting to be born” seemed like a giant step backwards.
• His allusion to gay marriage
Dolan prayed, “Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.”
An institution for the nurturing of life…what could he mean by that? Oh yeah, heterosexual marriage. Dolan has spoken out against gay marriage on the grounds that only heterosexual marriage can lead to procreation.
• What he means by “religious liberty”
Dolan prayed, “Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding.”
This might not seem particularly controversial, but as Irin Carmon at Salon pointed out, “Lately, when Dolan has said ‘religious liberty,’ he’s really been talking about your birth control.” Dolan has condemned Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage and his archdiocese in New York, along with other Catholic dioceses, is suing the Obama administration over the issue.
Dolan has also called the legalization of gay marriage an attack on religious liberty. In 2011, he wrote a blog post comparing the legalization of gay marriage in New York to life in China or North Korea and writing, “Please, not here! We cherish true freedom.”
What’s surprising isn’t the content of Dolan’s prayer, but that the DNC gave him a platform. Dolan has always been outspoken against abortion rights, contraceptive coverage, and gay marriage– he is suing the Obama administration over contraceptive coverage! How much more outspoken can you get?
Compare Dolan’s appearance to Sister Simone Campbell’s, one of the “nuns on the bus” you might have heard about this summer. With a group of other Catholic nuns, Campbell took a two-week, 2,7000-mile bus journey through nine states to condemn the budget that Paul Ryan wrote and Mitt Romney endorsed. Campbell’s DNC speech was all about Ryan’s budget and the need for health insurance.
Campbell gave a speech, though, not a prayer, and that lent itself to supremely less awkwardness than the sight of the whole DNC bowing their heads in prayer to a God that many of them may not believe in, about issues that the party expressly opposes.
Next time, the DNC might want to reconsider having a benediction – seriously, why do we even have a prayer at the DNC? At the very least, they should think about what the speaker might pray for before they give him a pulpit.
You can watch Dolan’s prayer here, or read the full text here. You can watch Campbell’s speech here, or read the full text here.
Image credit: nymag.com