Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Republican National Convention Blessing Prompts Debate

by David Gibson, Religion News Service, Huffington Post, 8/26/12

The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive nominee. But the move has also prompted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP.

“The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics,” Michael O’Loughlin wrote in a post on the website of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits.

“Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case,” O’Loughlin concluded.

Similarly, David Cruz-Uribe, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, wrote on the Vox Nova blog that Dolan’s decision “will only drag the Church further into a partisan divide and fuel the perception (true or not) that the Catholic Church wants to replace the Episcopalians as the Republican party on its knees.”

Conservative Catholics have, not surprisingly, welcomed Dolan’s appearance and hope it augurs well for Romney.

“I now predict that if Mitt Romney wins the White House in 2012 there will be a very healthy relationship between a Romney administration and the U.S. Bishops, led by a close working relationship between Cardinal Dolan and President Romney,” said Thomas Peters, who writes for, which has endorsed Romney and his Catholic running mate, Paul Ryan….

Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate has brought an outpouring of praise from several bishops. Some of them like Ryan’s proposals on cutting entitlements and taxes, despite the conflict that other bishops see between those policies and Catholic teaching.

Others, like Dolan, who was archbishop of Milwaukee before coming to New York in 2009, have close personal ties to Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman. Dolan has often taken a softer line on Ryan’s policies than other Catholic leaders, and his praise has grown as Ryan’s visibility has increased.

Dolan recently told a radio program that he is “happy” Ryan is on the GOP ticket and called him a “great public servant.”

“We go way back, Congressman Paul Ryan and I,” Dolan said. …

continue reading at Huffington Post

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