After giving the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan will offer the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week.
Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has accepted the invitation to close the Democratic Convention with prayer on Sept. 6, according to a statement by cardinal spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
Dolan's appearance will not be political, but strictly for prayer. "It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, 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," Zwilling said.
The cardinal agreed to the request to offer prayer at the Democratic convention only after receiving clearance from Charlotte, N.C., Bishop Peter J. Jugis, because the convention is in his diocese and protocol calls for Bishop Jugis to have the say over whether a bishop from another diocese plays such a role.
Dolan was recently criticized for inviting Obama to the annual Al Smith Dinner, which will be held in October. The event is known for being non-partisan and where members of both parties can trade humor rather than attacks, and both Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have accepted invitations to speak.
The cardinal said he was trying to encourage civility and dialogue in the midst of the battle with the White House over the contraceptive mandate, which requires faith-based employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs at no cost to employees.
In a blog post, Dolan wrote that he received "stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama." "Those who started the dinner 67 years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them," he wrote.
In 1948, Philadelphia Cardinal Dennis J. Dougherty prayed with both parties' nominating conventions.
According to CNN, the Democratic Convention will also have a nun, who has been critical of the Republicans' federal budget, as a speaker next Wednesday. Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of a social justice group NETWORK, who helped lead a recent "nuns on the bus tour" against the federal budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate.