Cdl. Dolan Addresses (rather, Whitewashes) Al Smith Dinner Controversy

Cdl. Dolan Addresses Whitewashes Al Smith Dinner Controversy

by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant • September 29, 2016

NEW YORK – Thursday morning, Cdl. Timothy Dolan of New York appeared on Fox News to discuss the controversy surrounding his invitation of pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Democrat Hillary Clinton to the archdiocese’s annual fundraising dinner.

ChurchMilitant confirmed September 19 that Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be guests of honor at this year’s Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a $3,000-a-plate affair held annually at the Waldorf-Astoria that raises money for charity, and is spearheaded by the archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Dolan is president of the board.

After the “Fox & Friends” panel cited a poll showing 70 percent of Americans believe this election season has brought out the “worst in people,” Ainsley Earhardt asked, “How can you talk to family and friends about politics without getting into a bitter debate and keep it civil around the dinner table?”

In response, Cdl. Dolan said, “We do need some healing and we need some unity and reconciliation.” He went on to criticize Monday night’s presidential debate for failing to focus on the issues and instead lodging personal attacks.

“I don’t mind good, hearty, hot debate and controversy — as long as it’s not reduced to attacks on people,” he commented. “Nothing is worth damaging charity and civility.”

Dolan caused scandal in 2012 when he invited pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Democrat President Obama to be a guest of honor. Although thousands of faithful signed multiple petitions asking the cardinal to rescind the invitation, he went forward with the event, and during his closing speech at the dinner said nothing to challenge Obama’s pro-abortion stance.

President Obama with Cdl. Dolan at the 2012 Al Smith Foundation Dinner

Cardinal Dolan’s two predecessors — Cdl. John O’Connor and Edward Egan — had refused to invite previous Democratic nominees because of the scandal of their support for abortion.

[WRONG on Cardinal Egan – doing the same with Obama in 2008]


Thursday morning, Fox News commentator Steve Doocy remarked that both Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were “hilarious” at the 2012 Al Smith Dinner. After laughter, Dolan replied, “That, of course, is the purpose of the dinner.”

According to the cardinal, the annual fundraiser is meant to bring together politicians in “a real climate of amity.” “Except for the debates, it’s the only time in the political season that the two candidates come together — at the Al Smith Dinner, sponsored by the archdiocese of New York,” he explained.

“We’re supposed to build bridges,” he went on, “most of all between humanity and Divinity — but on that day, I kind of feel like a bridge, because I’ll be sitting between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”

In the Fall of 2012, Obama was suffering with the Catholic vote because of his war with the bishops over the HHS contraceptive mandate. A good photo op with what many see as the most important Catholic prelate in the U.S. Church would do much to restore his credibility with the Catholic populace.

The predicted photo op took place at the October fundraiser, and Obama went on three weeks later to win the election, securing more than 50 percent of the Catholic vote.

The consistent roster of pro-abortion Democrats at each year’s Al Smith Dinner is not surprising, considering a number of board members of the Al Smith Foundation are wealthy supporters of Democrat lawmakers, including the Foundation’s chairman Al Smith IV, former head of NBC Robert Wright, CEO of Mutual of America Thomas Moran, and New York Private Bank & Trust president Howard Milstein, among others. Federal Elections Commission records show they’ve donated thousands to various Democratic politicians, including some who’ve donated to Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Cardinal Dolan is among the American prelates who don’t enforce Canon 915, which mandates that pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage politicians must be denied Holy Communion. In his opinion, the law is optional, and should be left to the discretion of bishops in their dioceses to decide on a case-by-case basis. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases,'” he commented in 2014. “Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

His opinion contradicts that of the Vatican’s doctrinal chief in 2004, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, who sent a memo to the U.S. bishops clarifying that Canon 915 is mandatory, and bishops must deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who cause scandal by publicly supporting abortion, gay “marriage” and other positions that violate Church teaching.

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