From CathNews New Zealand
In a sign of the importance of Catholics in American political life, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has been invited to pray at the national conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
The archbishop of New York is scheduled to give a benediction at the end of the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, at 2pm on August 31 New Zealand time, and at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 7 New Zealand time.
Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said: “It was made clear to the Democratic convention organisers, 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.”
“Clearly, Cardinal Dolan is seen by the bishops as the spokesman for the US bishops in this country. In a sense, he’s trying to be the Catholic Billy Graham,” commented Father Thomas Reese, SJ, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown Unviersity.
Father Reese said the cardinal’s praying with both parties projects the same “being above partisan politics” image Graham has broadcast for decades.
Cardinal Dolan has also challenged the Republican and Democratic candidates for president and vice-president to sign a pledge “to employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities”.
At the Democratic convention, observed New York Times commentator Sharon Otterman, “Cardinal Dolan, an opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage who is among the Catholic bishops suing the Obama administration over its contraception health care mandate, will bless a gathering of thousands of delegates who passionately disagree with him.”
The Democrats will also hear from Sister Simone Campbell, the chief organiser of the Nuns on the Bus tour criticising Republican budget plans. She will give a political address.
In recent years, Catholics have emerged as an important swing vote. Long predominantly Democratic, Catholics have increasingly shifted to the Republican Party, drawn by conservative positions on social issues.
Full text of Cardinal Dolan’s prayer at Republican National Convention (Source: Catholic Culture):
With firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, let us pray. Almighty God, Father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home,” he began. “We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life. Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.”
We lift up to your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms, drought, and fire. We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.
O God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us, and on those who would govern us: the president, and vice president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. And help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.
Almighty God, who gives us the sacred and inalienable gift of life, we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty. Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom. Make us truly free by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope and love, prudently and with justice, courageously and in a spirit of moderation. Enkindle in our hearts a new sense of responsibility for freedom’s cause and make us ever grateful for all those who for more than two centuries have given their lives in freedom’s defense. We commend their noble souls to your eternal care as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform. May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making.
Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed on our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone. May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self control, our liberty in law. We pray for all those who seek honest labor as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need [with] which you so richly blessed this nation. We beseech your blessing on all who depart this evening and on all those in every land who seek to conduct their lives in freedom.
Most of all, Almighty God, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country. For we are indeed one nation under God, and in God we trust. Dear God, bless America, you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.