After offending religious Americans by appearing to boo God, the Democratic National Convention had the top ranking Catholic official in the country perform the closing Benediction Thursday night. Cardinal Timothy Dolan did the same for the Republicans last week in Tampa Bay, but those delegates didn’t seem to have a problem with a party platform that included God and Jerusalem.
The only networks respectful enough to show the prayer in its entirety without interruption was Fox News, Fox Business and C-SPAN. ABC, CNN, and PBS kept it in background while talking over it. MSNBC completely ignored it, cutting the audio feed to let their pundits share their opinions without distraction. CBS and NBC returned to local news affiliates as soon as he began.
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Two minutes after he finished however, PBS reporter Ray Suarez commented on how "combative" Dolan was. "20,000 Democrats had to stop in their tracks" to listen to him. Suarez then summarized how Dolan just had a "long riff" on religious liberty.
The content of the prayer was surprising and controversial to some, considering where he was. The Archbishop defended the right to life of the weakest and smallest among us.
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.
He continued with a defense of traditional marriage, scolding one of the major platforms of the convention.
Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.
The decision to include him wasn’t an easy one for the DNC, despite his ranking and esteem among American Catholics. The head of the Archdiocese in New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops has included himself in a conflict with the Obama administration over the contraception aspect of the Affordable Health Care Act. A mandate that went into effect on Aug. 1.
In an interview with the New York Post on Aug. 24, Catholic League President Bill Donohue criticized the DNC for not following the GOP’s lead by extending an invitation to Dolan.
The Republicans are smart enough to get the ‘pope of America,’ and the Democrats are stupid enough not to invite him. The Catholic vote is the most critical vote. They’re the wild card. So, why wouldn’t you ingratiate yourself to the pope of America and send a wink and a nod to Catholics? That’s just good politics.
They must’ve listened to Donohue’s advice, but the major networks had no interest in giving the Cardinal any respect – cutting him off before the prayer even started.
Relevant Transcript Below
Democratic National Convention
September 6, 2012
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: Let us Pray…
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.
We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ardored liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.
We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.
We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.
We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.
And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.
And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.
For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”
So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.