The news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the Republican National Convention has sent shivers up the spines of some of my leftie Catholic friends. They need to relax.
First, Dolan said he would be happy to give a benediction at the Democratic National Convention as well. Will he be asked? If asked, would he be greeted respectfully? I suspect the Democratic National Committee decided to give Ms. Sandra Fluke and Ms. Cecile Richards a turn at the podium because they will fire up the crowd. Is it likely that same crowd can be expected to even be polite to the Archbishop of New York?
Second, there is precedent. Going back to the days before Congress barred non-profits from partisan political activity, Msgr. John A. Ryan gave a famous radio speech in 1936, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, in which he expicitly endorsed Franklin Roosevelt's re-election campaign, something Cardinal Dolan will not do. Cardinal John Krol twice gave the benediction at Republican National Conventions held in cities other than his own.
So, I have a message to my Catholic Democratic friends: Yes, the pictures of Cardinal Dolan standing on the platform with Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan will make you upset. But, should you blame the cardinal for this or should you blame your own party? It is, in the strictest sense of the word, a shame that only one political party can be counted on to recognize the significance of religion in American culture by inviting the most recognizable face of the Catholic Church to pray with them, but the shame belongs with the Democrats, not with the Republicans and certainly not with Cardinal Dolan.