Catholic Church

Influential cardinal is bipartisan with prayer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 3:42am


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Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan will deliver the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention as well as this week's Republican meeting, in a sign of bipartisanship after Dolan had taken a role opposing the White House on policy matters.

The archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops last week accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention on Thursday in Tampa, Florida.

His office announced yesterday that he would do the same for the Democrats in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 6.

Political analysts see many Catholics as "swing voters".

"It was made clear to the Democratic convention organisers, as it was to the Republicans, that the cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform or candidate," Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York archdiocese, said.

Dolan has become an increasingly influential political figure in the United States and a champion for conservatives, especially since he challenged President Barack Obama in February over a federal health insurance provision that required Catholic institutions to cover birth control.

On Monday, Dolan said he wanted Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney to sign a "civility pledge".

In February, US bishops pressed Obama to exempt religious employers from a federal mandate that all health insurance plans offer free birth control. Obama agreed to modify it so religious employers would not have to pay for contraceptive coverage directly.