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His office’s statement:

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention. As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday of this week.

It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, 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. The Cardinal consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the Cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese.

We knew from the get-go that Dolan was willing to pray at both conventions, but the criticisms (largely from the left) came anyway. Now they’ll probably start coming from the right.

Such criticisms will be misplaced. Many pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage groups try to pain the Catholic church not as a religious body but rather as an “anti-woman” or “anti-gay” political lobby. Having Dolan pray at the Democratic convention makes it much harder for them to make that argument. After all, one never would invite the heads of Americans for Tax Reform or Freedom Works to the DNC podium. Christian moral commitments are not essentially partisan ones, and it important that Democrats as well as Republicans recognize this.

The takeaway is this: A silent, respectful reception for Dolan will constitute a minor affirmation of the special importance of religion in American life. And a rude reception? Well, that would embarrass all those who seek to discredit the church’s moral witness.

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