BOSTON, July 26, 2004 ( – A Paulist priest who regularly gives Kerry communion will give the opening blessing to the Democratic National Convention. The Democratic Party has been increasingly criticized by Catholic bishops for its aggressive support of abortion. Rev. John B. Ardis, director of the Paulist Center, will be giving an ‘invocation,’ to the delegates. Ardis has made himself a central figure in the public row over the reception of communion for publicly pro-abortion Catholics. Kerry and his wife, who live nearby, attend services at the Paulist Center in Boston. Ardis said that he had received the sanction to give Kerry communion from the archdiocese of Boston. interviewed Sean P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, at the national March for Life in Washington in January when he said that pro-abortion politicians should not “dare” to come forward for communion.

Spokesmen for the Kerry campaign said that O’Malley was not considered for invitation.

Boston College theologian, Stephen J. Pope, has said O’Malley would face increasing pressure to speak out on Kerry’s continuing defiance because Kerry is a Bostonian and because the Democratic National Convention is to be held in Boston. Now that the Convention is at his doorstep, O’Malley’s spokesman has said the Archbishop had planned to be out of town.

The Democratic National Convention has been a source of controversy with regards to the involvement of Catholic bishops and priests. In 2000, Cardinal Mahoney addressed the Convention criticizing the Democratic Party on the issue of abortion after being asked by organizers to leave the issue alone. The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin declined to address the DNC in 1996.  Read Boston Globe coverage:  ph