The news that New York Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan will deliver a prayer on the last night of the Republican convention is drawing criticism from LGBT observers, including commentator Andrew Sullivan.
Dolan’s presence makes it clear the U.S. Catholic hierarchy has made a “de facto endorsement” of the Mitt Romney–Paul Ryan ticket, Sullivan writes in a column for The Daily Beast. The usual practice at political conventions, Sullivan notes, is to have a local bishop lead a prayer, “but the Romney-Ryan ticket … argued for a big name Catholic, and Dolan, astonishingly, said yes.”
Dolan, Sullivan continues, has national stature, and this makes the prayer a political and partisan act. In addition to leading the New York diocese, he is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Sullivan notes that Dolan has frequently praised Ryan, a practicing Catholic. However, Sullivan, likewise a Catholic, finds Ryan’s conservative economic ideology inconsistent with the church’s call to assist the poor. He takes Dolan to task for his association with Ryan, in addition to the archbishop’s opposition to marriage equality in his home state and elsewhere.
Dolan’s “most important issues are criminalizing abortion, stripping gay couples of any civil legal protection, and making sure that non-Catholic employees of Catholic hospitals and schools be denied access to insured contraception,” Sullivan writes. “That he is saying the benediction for a ticket that explicitly endorses a priority for the super-rich over the working poor and views illegal immigrants as beneath contempt also tells you a lot about Dolan’s priorities.”
The archbishop offered to appear at the Democratic convention as well but did not receive an invitation, the New York Post reports. A spokesman for President Obama’s campaign said a “high-ranking” Catholic will appear at the convention but declined to identify the person because arrangements were not final.
The Republican convention will be held Monday through Thursday in Tampa, Fla. The Democratic event will run from September 4 through 6 in Charlotte, N.C.