The USCCB today released a letter of congratulations to the newly re-elected president of the United States, as is their tradition on the day following presidential elections. New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan Dolan wrote on behalf of all the bishops :
Dear President Obama,
In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States. The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility. The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.
In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant. We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty , religious freedom. We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.
May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The opening and closing paragraphs are nearly verbatim copies of the letter from Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George to President-elect Obama in 2008.
The middle paragraphs, however, differ. Whereas Cardinal George wrote, “We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person,” Cardinal Dolan writes, “We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and . . . religious freedom” (emphasis mine in both cases).
The bishops wanted to work with the president in 2008; on the crucial issues Cardinal Dolan names they are now, of necessity, standing in defense against him.