Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Cardinal Dolan’s Response

August 15th, 2012, Promulgated by Hopefull

Obama at 2008 Dinner - A direct link from Archdiocese of NY website

I thought of posting  as a comment  the fact that Cardinal Dolan himself has now apparently responded to the criticism related to the Al Smith Dinner in NYC.  But it deserves more discussion.  This response was posted as a Mid-Day Wednesday post on  and can be directly linked here (and here).     Here are a few highlights:

…the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate.

… the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue.

…an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values…

…Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So, I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?

…I ask your prayers for me and my brother bishops and priests who are faced with making these decisions, so that we will be wise and faithful shepherds as God calls us to be….

…. if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

Please read in its entirety and see what you think. Is this an adequate answer to those who are so scandalized and potentially harmed? What did you expect? What should the response be? Or does it call for further action?


27 Responses to “Cardinal Dolan’s Response”

  1. Richard Thomas says:

    “He then went on to announce a promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics. Quoting a very recent study, he noted that over 80% of Americans are fed up with the negativity, judgmentalism, name-calling and mudslinging of our election-year process and eagerly want a campaign of respect, substance, amity — civility!”

    Really, Civility in politics. Just listen to all the hate mongering produced by the Democratic party in ther last few years, especially this election. Who is he kidding? You are dealing with people who believe the ends justify the means. The analogy is similar to inviting Hitler to a Jewish dinner. The Cardinal needs a reality check and better man up and act courageously.

  2. brother of penance says:

    I read the explanation by Cardinal Dolan at the above link which I discovered at

    It is good to hear/read the pastor’s explanation. And while a portion of it resonates with me,
    I still wish he hadn’t invited President Obama.

    It is dangerous to demonize anyone still alive, on the journey, possible for repentance and saving, sanctifying grace.

    That being said, Obama the man and politician champions that which is evil, intrinsically evil. He also plays the Catholic Church…..remember Notre Dame 2009!

    I still wish Cardinal Dolan had not invited him to the dinner.
    I signed Michael Voris’s petition to disinvite.

    Now I hope that Michael Voris’s next vortex addresses the explanation and maybe,
    even hopefully, cuts the pastor some slack.

    Pastors can make prudential decisions which history prove wrong.

    Let’s not demonize Timothy Dolan, our father and brother in Christ.

  3. annonymouse says:

    That response, your Eminence, was extremely disappointing. Unspeakably disappointing. Did you lift those words right from Father Jenkins at Notre Dame? Sit down and talk to the President (for all the good that will do), by all means. But don’t fete him at a dinner, for Pete’s sake.

    And your last paragraph (only eating with saints) comes across as total condescension. And complete arrogance. This is a surprisingly clear glance through a window into a very dark and unattractive side of you, your Eminence.

    One can eat with sinners all day long without giving them honors or a platform to speak, implying to the world your support for the sinners’ actions. But this is not about “sinners” – it’s about those in power who “defy our moral principles” – PUBLIC sinners.

    The Conference which you are Chair has, very clearly I think, said that the Church and her related organizations SHOULD NOT GIVE PLATFORM to those who defy our moral principles. Can you possibly think of a political leader who more defies our moral principles than the President? Was that guidance not meant for situations EXACTLY like this one?

    I have done a complete 180 on this one. I could not be more disappointed with Your Eminence’s decision or your response to the justifiable outrage about that decision.

  4. Scott W. says:

    …Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor

    I’ve never thought he was a bad guy or insincere. I thought the future of the USCCB was looking up on his election, and perhaps it still is a good sign. But ultimately, this act screams “Status Quo!” which is simply unsustainable in this age. He has my prayers as do all the bishops, but this is a big flop.

  5. JLo says:

    I tried to leave my comment below on Cardinal Dolan’s web site, but his system would not accept it, no matter HOW many times I typed those two codes in! Here is what I wrote.

    “Playing nice with the culture, civility, as you label it, Cardinal Dolan, is a rather lame excuse, sir. You cannot embrace politically correct behavior to play nice with evil and NOT get dirty. As I recall, Cardinal O’Connor rightly did not invite the other abortion president, Bill Clinton. No apology needed… he was true to the Faith, no excuses. And Bill Clinton wasn’t pushing SSM and destroying freedom of religion! Do you not think it is long past time that the leaders of the Church show the stuff of your forerunners, all those martyrs who would not play nice with evil? Those people BUILT the Church. Catholics, because of leadership like yours, will vote once again for Barack Obama, and that is directly on your plate, sir. May God be praised and you blessed in all you do!”


  6. Gretchen says:

    We sent a response to His Eminence early this morning. As of 8 p.m., it has not been published:

    Most Eminent Cardinal,

    We read with dismay the response you released regarding the invitation of President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner. To our way of thinking, there is one fundamental basis for making such a decision. Does it bring glory to God?

    If the only criterion is that one desires “civility in politics” then the very devil himself would be welcome at the Al Smith Dinner.

    To use the president as a prop to raise money is cynical. It serves his purpose to be seen and lauded by prominent clergy, and to put money into his campaign from misled Catholics all over the country. Additionally, it must be assumed that his presence would swell the coffers of the archdiocese. Even for charitable purposes it is filthy lucre!
    If one were truly interested in dialoging with President Obama, would he not have been quietly invited to a private dinner? There would no photo ops, no funds solicited, no illusions about what was at stake. Your Eminence wrote that the Al Smith Dinner, “…is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.” There is nothing personal about a dinner that is widely covered by the press. On the contrary, it doesn’t get any more personal than President Obama’s stance as a rabid advocate of abortion and a foe of religious freedom. Untold millions of babies and women have suffered unto death, and now every citizen is threatened with the loss of freedom of religion.

    In fact, the president has created a conflict—that did not exist before–between being a faithful Catholic and being an American citizen. We personally have friends who are directly affected by the HHS Mandate, friends whose livelihood will be impacted. They will have to choose their job or their faith. Indeed, all citizens will be forced to participate in funding the evils of abortion and contraception if the HHS Mandate is allowed to stand.

    Additionally, to suggest that a fundraising dinner, no matter how prominent, is somehow analogous to heads of state meeting in their official capacities is disingenuous. Indeed, using popes, bishops, the Knights of Columbus, and even Vatican II–not to mention our Lord–as justification for the invitation is simply not contextual. Your Eminence does not mention your brother bishops who, in recent years, have declined to invite pro-abortion politicians to the Al Smith Dinner. Are they not worthy of mention? Were their decisions somehow defective according to Scripture and the Church?

    This invitation, having already caused such scandal, brings no glory to our heavenly Father. Finally, as requested we are praying and will continue to pray for your Eminence and all clergy. These are very dark times. We know that you will pray for the laity as well, for we “are as sheep, not having a shepherd.”

    Kissing the Sacred Purple,

    (Gretchen from SOP)

  7. Raymond F. Rice says:

    “It is dangerous to demonize anyone still alive, on the journey, possible for repentance and saving, sanctifying grace.”
    It is also dangerous to canonize anyone still alive as St Francis of Assisi indicated at one point in his life and Father Coropi proved. Are we all like this, both good and bad and so complex in our motives that only God has enough details to render a clear and final judgement???? Maybe we should reserve judgement a little bit longer.

    And when you think about it, if Jesus had not dined with sinners but only the sinless, the only person He would ever have eaten a meal with His whole life would have been His mother!! And was not Mary of the annointing a public sinner becuase she was gratuitous with her sexual favors and probably practised birth control??

    “As I recall, Cardinal O’Connor rightly did not invite the other abortion president, Bill Clinton. No apology needed… he was true to the Faith, no excuses.” Was he not invited because of the abortion issue or because he was committing sodomy with a White House intern in a closet off the oval office and it could be the subject of a lot of jokes from the crude and jaded politicians present? At a ball game in New York, not even Joe Di’Maggio would talk to him because of his shenanigans.

    A priest becomes another Christ as indicated at his ordination and a successor to the apostles at consecration as a bishop. Maybe Obama might encounter Christ in some miraculous way at the dinner. After all we are praying for a good outcome, are we not?

  8. Richard Thomas says:


    Isn’t there a difference between eating with sinners and giving sinners a platform to propagate and encourage sinful behavior?

    And, as was stated by Gretchen, isn’t it wrong to confuse uninformed Catholics about an individual? Won’t they mistake his appearance as approval. And won’t this president use the dinner as a means to his getting re-elected?

    With all the president has done, isn’t it the duty of our bishops to instruct all Catholics not to vote for politicians promoting the culture of death? Won’t that be in conflict with the benefits O’bama will receive through his presence at the dinner?

  9. Raymond F. Rice says:

    “isn’t it the duty of our bishops to instruct all Catholics not to vote for politicians promoting the culture of death? ”

    Do you really think that Catholics are listening to the bishops, with their track record of the past 10 years? A lot of Americans wish that the ground would open up and swallow most of Washington and a lot of Catholics wish that the headquarters of the USCCB would go with it? The only real mistake that the Cardinal made on the Al Smith Dinner was not inviting Father Anthony Pavone so it was really guilt by ommission.!!!!

  10. Richard Thomas says:


    That’s a good point.

    But it seems that either the USCCB issues press releases about almost EVERY political issue very frequently which dilutes the power of their message.

    And coupled to that, the bishops never preach about pertinent moral issues in their own dioceses and do not require their priests to do so: on abortion, birth control, pre-marital sex, pornography and homosexuality.

    So I have to answer that it’s not an issue of Catholics not listening to their bishops but simply they are being bombarded 24/7 by the culture of death about Catholic morals while their bishops and priests remain silent and don’t instruct them.

    But I am hoping that the headquarters of the USCCB get swallowed up!

  11. Diane Harris says:

    For every letter to Cardinal Dolan objecting to his cavalier way of treating the laity who are so concerned about the scandal of his inviting BO to the Al Smith dinner, there should be a letter to Archbishop Lori praising him for his faithfulness.

    He wrote: “This is a big moment for Catholic voters to step back from their party affiliation.”

    “The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances?”

    “If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person.”

    The archbishop, who chairs the US bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, said the defense of religious liberty is “fundamental, as people of faith” and “transcends party.”

    The above is excerpted from Lifesite News:

  12. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Affiliations with political parties and the faithfulness required to be a part of the parties will end when you “cash in your chips”. Your membership in Christ’s party has begun now and will last into and throughout eternity. When the rubber meets the road, as now, there is really no question of party affiliation. Essentially, are you casting your long term vote for O’Bama, Romney, or Jesus Christ and his followers. Should be a no brainer!!

    Were you aware that Christ and His Church are candidates in this election???
    And I am nutz about His First Lady!!!

  13. Diane Harris says:

    To get a sense of what goes on at the Al Smith dinner, click on this link to the Media Center of the Al Smith Foundation:
    and you will have a choice of several videos to view by clicking the plus sign on each picture, including the 2008 Obama/McCain speeches.

  14. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks for the link, Diane. After watching the 2008 vid, I feel somewhat offended that Dolan/Donahue were so adamate that this just a personal dinner

  15. Scott W. says:

    Second the thanks to Diane. So many times I get chastised for commenting on something without seeing the context or experiencing it. According to some, I actually have to read The DiVinci Code before determining its anti-Catholic bilgewater. I actually have to attend the Passion play with mimes before concluding it is a trvializing abomination that barely has a place in the social hall to say nothing of doing it in the sanctuary.

    But in my experience almost every time I do see the context, not only is my orginal protest confirmed, it turns out I wasn’t being strident enough against it.

    Watching what actually goes on at the dinner is like that.

  16. y2kscotty says:

    I don’t know what everyone else thinks about it, but I think that Cardinal Dolan’s desire to speak at the GOP convention is not right. His presence there can eb interpreted as an agreement with everything that the GOP is promoting – not just its apparent pro-life stance (I say “apparent” because I don’t think the GOP is really serious about getting rid of abortion as is witnessed by their gimmicky legislation on invasive vaginal inspections). He should have let the local bishop say the benediction. His appearance will convey the idea that the American hierarchy is following the GOP line on everything. And the excuse that he’s there to “pray” is hollow – the GOP delegates are not there to pray. If the Cardinal is there to speak a prayer, then he should also insist on speaking to the GOP about Catholic teaching on ALL moral and social issues and challenge them on a wide range of issues, including immigration, social safety nets, and a wide range of pro-life issues. And, it would be great if he could deliver a similar speech to the Democrats. Both parties need to be challenged by Catholic teaching!

  17. Dr. K says:

    “I don’t know what everyone else thinks about it, but I think that Cardinal Dolan’s desire to speak at the GOP convention is not right.”


  18. y2kscotty says:

    Well, Dr K, the Dems aren’t there to pray – any more than the GOP is at their convention to pray. What I would prefer would be to have Dolan give an actual speech and “speak truth to power” and remind both parties of the Gospel Mandate. Both parties want to appear to have God on their side; both parties have strayed from that mandate in their so-called platforms. Both parties endorse, in significant ways, policies that violate morality… and we need a Dolan to tell them that to their faces.

  19. Dr. K says:

    “Dolan give an actual speech and “speak truth to power” and remind both parties of the Gospel Mandate.”

    Amen to that!

  20. JLo says:

    y2kscotty, since most of the prelates in our land don’t bother to teach those in their USUAL audiences (at Holy Mass) the non-negotiables of the Faith (abortion, adultery, SSA lifestyle, birth control), why in heaven’s name do you want a prelate to appear at a convention of mixed faiths to preach about the negotiables?! And as to those social justice points you worry about, you should be aware that this nation already has social safety nets EVERYWHERE. We spend more than any other nation on the planet to keep people fed, clothed, healthy and educated. But money is not the answer!!!

    Yes, we need to fix immigration, but whenever “social justice” people say immigration, they mean to have us overrun with whoever from wherever swelling our cities and countryside, and that just is neither wise nor tenable nor fair to the lawful citizens of this country!

    As to the GOP not being serious about getting rid of abortion, they do what they can under the circumstances. For instance, they are trying to get a bill passed which would prohibit abortion where the fetus feels pain, and there is growing scientific evidence that happens sooner than the liberals would have people believe. If successful, abortion, even as it now stands via Roe v. Wade, would be taken out in almost all cases! Can’t get that bill through the Democratic-controlled Senate, though, which is the norm when Dems have power… they do not even PRETEND to be even courteous let alone allow bills to go to the floor for debate and vote by those the people elect to represent us! They just bury them alive. Should the GOP grab both houses and the WH and still do nothing, THEN I’ll stand on your soap box and yell foul. Until then, it is the GOP which most closely stands for the moral fabric I hope for our country, so pray that all such as you stop equivocating!!

    As to +Dolan offering to pray at the Dem convention (he OFFERED; whereas he was invited to the GOP convention), his calling down blessings on the gathering of a party whose platform calls for abortion on demand and same sex marriage is unbelievable. And it is HIS idea; he offered! Not quite the principled prelate Dr. Donohue paints him. Actually, it’s amazing. Do you think God wants such an offering from the good cardinal? Do you think He will provide blessings upon that room of people and their ongoing killing and slavery plans for the people of the United States? Slaves to the HUGE government they want for power over the people as they continue to kill the littlest and make plans to do the same for the old and infirm.

    Political elections are never perfect, so we are always called upon to vote for the platform and people who will do the LEAST damage to our culture, to our moral fabric, to our God-given freedoms. The GOP wins hands down, but the majority of Catholics did not walk that road four years ago. This time I actually fervently pray for Obama’s Hope and Change! Come November 6 I pray that the Catholic bloc wakes up, does its duty, and sends the current voice of evil packing.


  21. Diane Harris says:

    I am disturbed by Cardinal Dolan’s opening words in his prayer at the Republican Convention. According to the report from his blog, he said: “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.”

    I assume he vetted his words VERY carefully, and was very careful what he said and how he said it. I particularly like his blessing on “all of those who proudly call America home.” It has been quite apparent some aren’t proud of America. Nice exclusion.

    But what bothers me much, are the words “Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.” Jesus is #4 son? huh? of the same “son status” as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Not the only begotten from all eternity, but a tag on to 3 others? What can this mean? Is it a bow to Mormonism’s not recognizing that Jesus Christ is GOD? Another “huh?”

    What do you think? Am I over-reacting or do these carefully chosen words have some particular meaning and why would Cardinal Dolan do this when he simply could have addressed “God” without raising any hackles? And what in the world will he do at the DNC?

  22. Barnyard says:

    Since Cardinal Dolan is inviting one advocade of mass murder, (abortion), I am wondering if the Cardinal would invite adolph hitler as well (if he were still alive). Abortion, which should actually be called baby murder, as I call it, is the greatest threat to our society. About as great a threat as resident obama.

  23. Barnyard says:

    Has Cardinal Dolan forgotten his Catholic education? I was always taught that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God. When did things change and Jesus became son number 4?

  24. JLo says:

    Prayer? Really? Just more political speech in the earthbound world, a jumble of words tumbling out, eyes constantly looking up… what was that?! So silly looking, especiallys indoors.

    I hoped for more; I hoped for leading us to humbly speak to the Lord and God of all, not pandering to whatever he seems to need to pander to for acceptance in the world out there. Instead of working hard as Diane suggests to craft words of double speak, I had hoped that he would speak only to the Lord, that he would invoke the Holy Spirit BEFORE he spoke out loud and thus pray truth from the heart, leading as we expect from a cardinal of the Church. I think we got a performance instead. So disappointing.

    And next he will pray over the assembly of party Democrats? Will he be blessing the platform THEY have crafted, one of abortion on demand whenever demanded and same sex “marriage” and government control of Americans in every area of life? Such a disgrace. Heartbreaking.

    So disappointing all around, this new leader of the Church in America. Pray hard, very hard, for him and for us.


  25. Ben Anderson says:

    I don’t share the same opinion that +Dolan disappointed in his RNC prayer… and I was very impressed with his DNC prayer:

    Although it is such a weird thing to have prayer so politicized. I’m sure more reflections will be done on this topic going forward. I’m not sure I fully grasp all the aspects of it yet.

  26. Diane Harris says:

    I was pleased to see the contrast in Cardinal Dolan’s opening remarks, no longer giving Christ the son #4 status that he seemed to do at the RNC (for the Mormons?) At the DNC he said: “Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ….” Yes, indeed, the Father revealed in the Son….guess we weren’t the only people who noticed the lapse at the RNC.

    I agree with Ben that the DNC was a better speech, and more pointed. You can read it all at

    and an interesting commentary on the RNC comparison at: (now I have to go to a separate post or it will get hung up “waiting for moderation.)”

    to be continued in next post….

  27. Diane Harris says:

    ….and here’s the rest of the story, where you can read about Cardinal Dolan’s apparent praying at the DNC for protection of marriage:

    ….good for him!

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