Lawler on Card. Dolan’s upcoming appearance at the Democratic Abortion Convention

Phil Lawler at CWN has some thoughts about the Card. Dolan’s upcoming appearance at the Dems’ Abortion Convention.  He doesn’t so much consider whether Dolan should have offered to go or whether he should have accepted, but rather whether the DNC should have extended the invitation and what Dolan’s appearance at the convention might mean for them.

Here is a section, and you can read the rest there.


The Democrats are apparently planning a convention that will appeal to the primal instincts of anti-Catholic bigots. [We should just refer to it as The Abortion Convention.] Speakers from Planned Parenthood and NARRAL will whip up the crowd, warning that any hint of restriction on legal abortion would constitute a “war on women.” Homosexual activists will acclaim the President for advancing their drive toward legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Administration officials will remind the world that Obama introduced mandatory contraceptive coverage despite tough opposition. And then, after hours of shrill rhetoric, with the crowd in a frenzy of partisan fervor, the convention organizers will introduce the leading American representative of the institution that is most closely associated with opposition to legal abortion, to same-sex marriage, and to mandatory contraceptive coverage: the Catholic Church.

One of the most important purposes of a political convention is to fire up the troops: to rouse passions, to rally the party’s faithful as they prepare for battle with their political enemies. This year the main enemy will be Mitt Romney, of course. But looking toward the future, over a longer time horizon, many liberal activists see the Catholic Church as the enemy. [Right!] So how will they feel, and how will they behave, when an agent of that “enemy” appears on the convention floor? [I think the Dems are setting Simone Campbell up as their true leader of the catholic Church in the USA, because she is a tame catholic who stays silent on abortion.  This is the fruit, in a political context, of the Magisterium of Nuns: they are placed against, and over, the teaching authority of the bishops.]


How will partisan Democratic activists respond to the cardinal’s presence. I see two likely possibilities.

Hard-core ideologues might make their contempt manifest. Cardinal Dolan could face demonstrations, interruptions, heckling, a chorus of boos. [I think the party apparatchiks and commissars will reign that back.]
Or cooler heads could prevail, Democratic leaders could impose discipline, the cardinal could hear nothing but respectful applause. [yep]

In all likelihood the actual event will see a bit of both reactions. The cardinal will be greeted politely. But there will be some grumbling when Cardinal Dolan prays—as surely he will—for a respectful attitude toward human life and a determination to support marriage and family. [And what if Card. Dolan’s prayer is disastrously generic?] And even if the angriest demonstrators are kept outside the convention hall, TV viewers might notice that the rhetoric of those who oppose the cardinal’s appearance will sound very similar to the rhetoric of Democratic speakers who appeared earlier on the convention schedule.

[Here is Lawler’s point…] One way or another—because he is treated rudely, as an enemy; or because he is treated politely, as a foreign dignitary—Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Charlotte will help Catholic voters to notice that they are no longer “at home” in the Democratic Party. Like the cardinal they may be accepted as guests, but as long as the Democratic Party embraces the culture of Death, Catholic Democrats will be operating on alien territory.

Cardinal Dolan offered to attend the convention if his presence was wanted. The truth is that he is not wanted. But the Democratic Party has chosen to pretend, and that is a serious tactical error.

Is Lawler on to something here?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. mamajen says:

    I have VERY mixed feelings about this, but I know it’s a rather complicated situation and I guess I will have to trust Cardinal Dolan. I suppose if a blessing of any sort is to be done, I would rather it was done properly. I also know that if he agreed to do a blessing for the Republicans but refused to do so for the Democrats, there could be negative repercussions (taxes, who knows what else) for the Church. But I’m under no illusions that this will somehow convert people or cause ignorant Catholic voters to “connect the dots” about the Democratic Party. That, to me, is just wishful thinking.

    I would love it if Cardinal Dolan seized on the opportunity to make a strong statement of some sort with his prayer. We cannot pretend that these evil people are okay. He risks leading Catholics astray by doing this.

  2. Southern Catholic says:

    The major news channels probably won’t broadcast him either way.

  3. JohnE says:

    I think it all depends on how Cardinal Dolan prays or what he prays for. The “not bad, not bad” comment in regards to having two Catholic VP candidates does not really give me a lot of hope.

    There are times where it is appropriate to sit down at table with sinners, but also a time to knock tables over. I lean toward the latter, but I pray that whatever the right thing to do is, Cardinal Dolan will do it.

  4. lelnet says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the last time a Catholic bishop had the opportunity to appear at, or even near, a Democrat convention without putting himself at serious risk of martyrdom.

    I hope he uses it well. I’m more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt than I am the median American bishop, but I do still wonder.

  5. wmeyer says:

    Southern Catholic, I fear you are wrong. If his benediction is generic, and he makes no mention of their serious conflicts with the Catholic faith, then the networks will indeed run it, as proof that there is no reason for Catholics not to vote for Obama. And even if he does speak against the abortion and contraception issues, or the HHS mandate, some editing for later replay will make this a tool they can use.

  6. DisturbedMary says:

    If it were Archbishop Chaput that we are talking about I would applaud his decision to pray or not to pray. He has written about the church-state relationship and offers Catholic clarity and depth to the discussion.

    Card. Dolan, on the other hand, appears to be profoundly naive or inexperienced or misled. His is a passionate message about civility. His prayer is for civility! He reiterates his neutrality towards parties, platforms and politicians. This seems an insane message in a world sinking into relativism.

    I am praying that he orders a press blackout of the Al Smith dinner. And that the prayer he offers at both conventions is to St. Michael the Archangel. And that he pay more attention to the sheep than to the wolves.

  7. Peggy R says:

    My husband heard a conversation at a local produce stand. We’re in a rural town in the midwest. The owner teased an older woman, apparently lifelong Democrat, about working the polls this fall and stuffing the ballot box. She came back with anger about “those Catholics” and the tea party crowd who may start a “civil war.”

    So, the Dem base is quite anti-Catholic it appears. We’re not talking urban feministas, either.

  8. mamajen says:

    Somehow I missed that Sister Simone Campbell is actually “blessing” the convention as well! UGH! Dolan is being used as nothing but a pawn.

  9. acroat says:

    It seems that the Cardinal has an obsession with being “liked” so I don’t expect much.

  10. wmeyer says:

    mamajen, I think you have it right. On the other hand, I am not sure very many will watch either convention, as neither side offers any uncertainty of outcome.

  11. Giuseppe says:

    I think Cardinal Dolan will be booed at his introduction, and that this booing would be a temporary boon to the Republican party. I suspect his prayer will be generic, will have something about Jesus love of the poor (which will get a rousing ‘Amen’) and respect for all life (which will be greeted tepidly). Ultimately, it will give Catholic Democrats symbolic cover to vote Democratic.

    I think the abortion issue will be used to try to split off moderate (nominally) Catholic democrats. We will see Rep. Ryan’s support of the platform’s personhood language used to show how Republicans will work to ban implantation-blockers. There is little popular support for banning abortions of a fetus conceived in rape or incest. And even though Governor Romney is in favor of allowing the woman to choose to have an abortion in this situation, I think we will see a relentless use of the platform’s call for banning all types of abortion (as well as Rep. Ryan’s long-standing support of banning all abortions except for life of mother) as showing how Republicans are forcing women to bear rapists children. It will be an ugly fall.

  12. Dismas says:

    Yup, I think Lawler is on to something. What better sets a stage in it’s proper light than a true sign of contradiction?

  13. PA mom says:

    Don’t you think that seeing the Archbishop and Sr Simone closely might bring much needed clarity to those who are genuinely confused by all of this? Who could hear them and not get it? My money is on the Name of Jesus being carefully avoided by her entirely. Can’t say that I’ll be watching to find out, but last night was great!

  14. lydia says:

    If the Cardinal fails to stress the sanctity of life, his appearance at the abortion convention will be a disaster. He will appear to be blessing the democrat platform. Why would he want to be perceived as neutral in the face of such evil? Hoping and praying for the best but not holding my breath.

  15. JKnott says:

    mamajen says “I would love it if Cardinal Dolan seized on the opportunity to make a strong statement of some sort with his prayer. We cannot pretend that these evil people are okay. He risks leading Catholics astray by doing this.’

    I agree with you.
    Hope His Eminence brings some holy water and blessed salt with him.

  16. blackcharlie says:

    Good grief, what a mess! I believe we must hope and pray that when the time comes for the benediction, at both conventions, the cardinal will be overcome by the Holy Ghost and say something other than the likes of the “not bad, not bad” statement we heard a few days ago.

    It would seem the time for divine intervention, as in St. Luke’s Gospel chapter 12, when Christ’s disciples are taught, ” …and to magistrates and powers, be not solicitous how or what you shall answer, or what you shall say; For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you must say.”

    This is the miracle we need at this time, that whatever is spoken by the cardinal be not said “in fear of the world”, as the Douay commentary notes, but rather deeply rooted and guided in the fear of the Lord. From the same chapter of St. Luke: “Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will shew you whom you shall fear: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear him.”

    Is this too much for a Christian to hope and pray for? Well, we have seen and heard in the past what happens when there is a little too much of the man and perhaps not enough of the Holy Spirit speaking at very important moments in history. Prayers for Cardinal Dolan seem to be very much in order.

    Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

  17. chantgirl says:

    Is there a prayer of exorcism for a political gathering? A girl’s allowed to dream anyway.

  18. Catholic Student-at-Law says:

    I don’t know what to think honestly. At the end of the day, I don’t trust the media, and I don’t trust the DNC. I have faith however, and I am praying that Cardinal Dolan will be led by the Holy Spirit in whatever he says and does.

    It is an immense opportunity, and I know God will give him the words if he asks. I also know that because of the opportunity, the Devil will be doing all he can as well. In situations like this, I think we all need to pray for our church leaders, and leave it in the Lord’s hands.

  19. TNCath says:

    It seems as if Cardinal Dolan is walking into the Devil’s living room by offering a prayer at the Democratic convention. In some ways, it’s a very courageous move; in other ways, it seems almost absurd. If the Democrats boo Cardinal Dolan and his prayer, it will send a clear message of the anti-Catholic fervor of the party. If the Democrats politely applaud, as did the Clintons did when Mother Teresa came to Washington a few years back, it will be seen as a “cordial gesture” by the Democrats. Either way seems to be a very awkward scenario. I just don’t know…

  20. Gregorius says:

    Part of me is worried that Catholic dems will use it as cover, but on the other hand, considering that he will have also offered a prayer at the GOP convention, I don’t think we’d have to worry too much.

    My bet is that he’ll use the same prayer for each convention.

  21. Philangelus says:

    I also hope he’ll use the same prayer for each convention. I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself praying that the Holy Spirit would give him the right words.

    He can’t solve the mess we’re in right now. But I’m also not convinced our country isn’t getting the government we deserve. :-(

  22. Legisperitus says:

    It seems that if he used the right words in that crowd he couldn’t be assured of leaving the building alive.

  23. JKnott says:

    From Catholic Culture 2011: “Pope Benedict XVI condemned the “vicious criminality” of Italy’s notorious Ndrangeta mafia during a one-day visit to the southern Calabria region on October 9.”

    I got to wondering if the Holy Father would attend a shindig like the Democratic convention, and how is it possible to ask God to bless their avid support killing of the unborn? What kind of a blessing could there be except one calling for enlightenment and repentance?
    Cardinal Dolan needs our prayers to the Holy Spirit to be given the moral courage to condemn the Democratic platform of abortion and homosexual marriage, or his prayer will be worthless.
    It is something to keep in prayer.

  24. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Today is the feast of John the Baptist. Let’s pray that Cardinal Dolan follows his example as he appears before the political power players of today.

  25. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Ooopps. May I add, that Cardinal Dolan speaks out against evil (not that he gets beheaded.)

  26. Margaret says:

    I hope nobody holds the Democrats back and that they visibly, audibly unleash their anti-Catholic loathing on the Cardinal. Maybe even a few tomatoes snuck past security. I have no doubt the Cardinal can take it, but I for one would prefer the ugliness to be visible to all.

  27. Lori Pieper says:

    Estimates are that around a third of Democrats are pro-life. I feel sure there will be pro-life delegates at the convention to cheer Cardinal Dolan on. Pro-lifers are completely shut out of the speakers’ list, naturally, and the platform also ignores their beliefs. They have been completely shut out, while in previous platforms (1996 and 2000) there was mention of diversity in the platform on life issues.

    There is going to be a separate rally/event for pro-life Democrats at the convention on September 4 (which I’m sure won’t be reported on by the media), sponsored by Democrats for Life.

    Now if Cardinal Dolan could come speak at this event, I’m sure he’d be welcome — he’s going to be everywhere else, after all!

  28. Lawler is absolutely, positively wrong.

    Most of the truly faithful, Mass-going, well informed Catholics of the country already know what the Democratic party and Obama stand for, i.e. DEATH. So to us, the Cardinal’s reception, be it warm or cold, will have little effect. Sadly, that makes up but a small portion of Catholics.

    The other – overwhelming majority – are NOT going to watch the convention, or listen to or read the details of the Cardinal’s appearance. They are going to hear a 8 second news blurb amounting to “Cardinal Dolan appeared at the Democratic convention to offer a prayer”. That’s all they will hear, and all they will NEED to hear to conclude that his presence there MUST mean that the Democrats are OK. To those who lack the knowledge or insight, it will be seen as a stamp of approval – period.

  29. Gretchen says:

    Unless there is a miracle of some sort…

    If the cardinal is booed, it will not matter one whit to Catholic liberals, who long ago put politics ahead of the Church; or through ‘conscience’ twisted their religion to fit their politics.

    Living in a diocese and parish that is notorious in its liberalism/leftism/womyn priests/magisterium of nuns/lay administrators, etc., I have seen much. You could knock them on the head with the Truth, and they wouldn’t know it. Or knowing it, would resort to their Spirit of Vatican II consciences and find a way to deny the Truth all the while affirming it.

    In fact, they would probably engage in some of the booing, or being constrained by the powers that be, would applaud politely and assure their neighbor that “Most Catholics don’t agree with the Church.” I don’t think I’m being cynical, for I do believe in miracles.

    I also believe the time of the Mustard Seed Church is upon us.

  30. priest up north says:

    How about this: since Satan hates Latin, perhaps His Emminence should be encouraged to offer his entire prayer and blessing in Latin…

  31. Blaise says:

    If it is in Latin he could probably get away with exorcising them. He should wear the capa magna too.

  32. If you want real reporting on the conventions go to C Span. No commentary there. I praise Cardinal Dolan for his willingness to face the challenges of our times. anyone who thinks he needs to be liked does not know the Cardinal. Perhaps he will do what Cardinal Law did some years ago at the funeral of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. In his sermon he declared that the Catholic Church was unwilling and unable to compromise on the issue of Abortion. He did this the the plain view of Bill and Hillary Clinton who sat stoned faced while the congregation broke into extended applause. All Christians of Good Will must hang together or we may find ourselves hanging separately. I pray that the pro-life democrats will rise to the occasion.

  33. benedetta says:

    I agree that Lawlor is on to something here. I can’t say how it will go, but clearly Card. Dolan is not going there as a “speaker”. The prayer he delivers will be from a Catholic Cardinal, and I for one feel that his presence in delivering that benediction there means something positive — I take his prayers at face value, with sincerity. He is not there to comment on the party or the candidates and the same goes for his delivering a benediction at the Republican one. But I will say this, I don’t think a better turn of events would be for a Catholic cleric to be unwelcome for prayer at either convention, or be welcome only at one but not at another. That would be disastrous for the faith and for us as Catholic Americans. I don’t think that the response to HHS and Obama’s pro culture of death, aggressive, agenda, should be isolationism and fear. We have nothing to fear. We should not be afraid. We have the truth and we should offer it, in season and out of season. This is what Cardinal Dolan will be offering, the same as what he offers any human being in the dignity of the salvation Christ won for us. And, I might add, I witnessed Card. Dolan first hand the other week at a Catholic summer camp for young people in upstate NY, WOW is all I can say, and I have had the privilege in my life of meeting dignitaries and Presidents (two). I have never seen anyone so beloved and equally loving of all he met. If anyone is up to the challenge of the lion’s den, it is Cardinal Dolan.

  34. Michelle F says:

    Based on what I have read in the news, the Republicans invited Cardinal Dolan to their convention (e.g.,

    Cardinal Dolan then solicited the Democrats for an invitation, which was reported at the bottom of the article above.

    There is something very wrong in this chain of events, and I don’t know how to explain it.

    First of all, Cardinal Dolan probably has alienated any allies the Catholic Church had in the Republican party. If the Democrats had invited Cardinal Dolan to their convention on their own initiative, his appearance there would be forgivable, and even commendable. He could be seen as standing above the political fracas like a good clergyman. As it is, he used his invitation to the Republican convention as leverage to try to force the Democrats into inviting him. This is a bad way to treat the party that is most sympathetic to the Church’s interests. The Republicans are less likely now to think that Roman Catholics are a group to whom they need to cater.

    Second, he is giving the impression that he is not serious in his opposition to the actions of the Democratic Party. He is giving that impression to the Democrats, and he is giving that impression to Catholics. They and others will say, “If he really were serious, he wouldn’t be nosing around for an invitation now would he?” The Democrats, especially Obama and his cohort, will use Cardinal Dolan for a plaything, and no Catholics or non-Catholics of good will are going to be persuaded to vote for Republicans by Dolan’s non-exclusive appearance there.

    Third, asking the Democrats for an invitation to their convention is the moral equivalent of asking the Nazis for an invitation to one of their rallies. Some Catholic clergymen in Germany may have attended the Nazi rallies and blessed them, but their names are lost to history if they did. The only Catholic clergymen we hear about today are the ones who did not give credence to the Nazis though their words or actions, the ones who were sent to the concentration camps, or who were simply executed. People today like to call Pope Pius XII “Hitler’s Pope,” but did he give any blessings to the Nazi Party? Will future generations call Cardinal Dolan “Obama’s Cardinal?”

    Cardinal Dolan is not thinking about what he is doing, and I don’t know why. I wish he would start thinking about his actions, however, because he is squandering political capital as well as giving scandal.

  35. benedetta says:

    Occasionally prolife Democrats have commented on this blog. What of them? What of the potential that they represent that one day the party of death might change completely?

  36. mamajen says:

    Can we send Huckabee over to “bless” the dems instead? WOW, was I impressed by his speech tonight defending Catholics, life, and religious freedom (and I am not generally a fan of his)!

  37. Alan Aversa says:

    @ Fr. Z: “And what if Card. Dolan’s prayer is disastrously generic?”

    Excellent point, Fr. Z. Unless he makes it really hard-hitting (e.g., explicitly condemning abortion and contraception, explicitly upholding extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, etc.), he’s not going to differentiate, for the average American, the Catholic Church from all other political bodies; he’d portray the Catholic Church as one of many apparently equally true religions—viz., he’d spread the heresy of religious indifferentism. Oremus pro eum.

  38. Alan Aversa says:

    @ Fr. Z: “And what if Card. Dolan’s prayer is disastrously generic?”

    Excellent point, Fr. Z. Unless he makes it really hard-hitting (e.g., explicitly condemning abortion and contraception, explicitly upholding extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, etc.), he’s not going to differentiate, for the average American, the Catholic Church from all other political bodies; he’d portray the Catholic Church as one of many apparently equally true religions—viz., he’d spread the heresy of religious indifferentism. Oremus pro eum.

  39. Phil_NL says:

    I think the big question right now is if the Dems will demand to vet the cardinal’s text beforehand. If they do and get their wish, the result will either be tepid, or a retraction of the invitation. I hope the cardinal manages to navigate these waters safely and keeps his back straight; being uninvited would be a good outcome.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m sure he’s going to see a good solid contrast between the two political parties and I’m glad that this year, he’s giving the benediction at BOTH.

    PS. He’d better bring his own drinking water. They hate our guts.

  41. The MSM is already touting that the Cardinal is giving his blessing on the news to the DNC- seems the plan is backfiring so far. He will need to say something very clearly (unambigious) and very strong now to make it clear that he disagrees with what the Dems are doing- abortion, sodomy (what they called it before PC), etc.

    Seems so far that they will just use him- take some sound clips that make it sound like he agrees with them or thinks they are well meaning people and use it to justify why everyone should vote for their “messiah.” If he doesn’t decline now then he should make sure that his message is unequivocal and not a single word can be used by them for there purposes. They already plan on just showing soundbites- they do it all the time. Very naive if he thinks otherwise.

    Heres a link where they cut off the transmission at the the end because their “one” wasn’t getting the applause they thought he deserved for reading the teleprompter without making too many mistakes.

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