Jesuit priest: Dolan tries to be the Catholic Billy Graham
Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s appearance at both the Republican and Democratic conventions is a sign Catholics have an important place in the U.S. political process and shows Dolan can raise above partisan politics, according to a professor at a Catholic university.
“I think this is just a terrific sign about the importance of Catholics in American public life these days,” said Stephen Schenk, a professor at The Catholic University of America and a national co-chair of “Catholics for Obama.”
On Tuesday, Dolan accepted an invitation from the Democratic National Convention, which runs Sept. 4-6, to give the final benediction in Charlotte, N.C., after President Barack Obama accepts his party’s nomination.
The cardinal is also scheduled to pray at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accepts his party’s nomination.
While tradition suggests a local bishop, priest or religious would represent Catholicism at each party’s convention, Dolan’s decision to go to Tampa and Charlotte reinforces the notion of him as the face of Catholicism in America, said Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
“Clearly, Cardinal Dolan is seen by the bishops as the spokesman for the U.S. bishops in this country. In a sense, he’s trying to be the Catholic Billy Graham,” he said.
Reese told NCR that Dolan’s praying with both parties projects the same “being above partisan politics” image Graham has broadcast for decades. [more]