October 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Controversy has surrounded President Obama’s scheduled attendance alongside Mitt Romney at this week’s Al Smith fundraising dinner, hosted by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, ever since the president’s invitation to the dinner was announced this past July.
But while the cardinal has publicly defended the decision to invite the president, the New York Post is quoting an anonymous source “close to Dolan” saying, “the cardinal himself wonders whether he made the right decision.” The source added, “He knows the president wants this for one reason, and that’s the photo.”
In August, the cardinal defended his invitation to President Obama in a blog post on the archdiocese’s website, saying, “In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, 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.”
Critics of the invite, however, pointed out that Obama won’t just be dining with the cardinal. He will be given a platform to speak from, and opportunities to be photographed with the prelate that conservatives fear he can use to his advantage during his campaign.
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While the Al Smith dinner has historically been a jovial and light-hearted non-partisan occasion, this year it comes on the heels of the announcement of the Obama administration’s HHS birth control mandate, which has been denounced by pro-life leaders, including the country’s Catholic bishops, as an unprecedented attack on religious freedom. The president and his administration are currently defendants in more than a dozen lawsuits over the HHS mandate.
Dolan himself has taken a major leadership role in fighting the HHS mandate, as well as promoting the pro-life cause. But critics say they worry that images of the president laughing with the cardinal will be used to create the impression that the president is a friend of the Catholic Church.
Obama, in addition to supporting the HHS mandate, has been an ardent defender of abortion without restrictions, and has also come out against the Defense of Marriage Act, of which the nation’s Catholic bishops were in united support.
The Catholic vote has historically been an important one for presidential candidates, and any confusion about the president’s relationship with the Church while he is running would likely be to the president’s advantage.
LifeSiteNews contacted the archdiocese for comment regarding the New York Post’s anonymous source, but did not hear back by the time this article went to press.
Contact info for respectful communications to the archdiocese:
Office of the Cardinal
Diocese of New York
1011 First Ave
NY, NY 10022