Offering a benediction to close the Democratic National Convention, Cardinal Timothy Dolan largely stuck to a similar script as he did when praying in front of Republicans at their convention last week, with two notable exceptions.
"We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected," Dolan, who as the Archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out strongly against abortion, said at the DNC.
And making what seemed to be a allusion to same-sex marriage, which President Barack Obama and the DNC have endorsed, Dolan said: "Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community."
While Dolan prayed for the "sacred and inalienable gift of life" at the Republican National Convention, he did not ask specifically for protection for the unborn. At the RNC, he said, "We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life."
Dolan mentioned morality at the RNC, but not remaking "institutions [God] has given us." At the RNC, he said, "May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God, and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making."
Dolan, who spoke for 700 words at the DNC and 544 at the RNC, also prayed for Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan by name at the DNC, in addition to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. At the RNC, he prayed for the Republican candidates by name and prayed for Obama and Biden when he mentioned the "president and vice-president."
Dolan also prayed for religious freedom at both conventions.
The phrase applies broadly to the constitutional freedom of religion, but it also relates more specifically to a fight Dolan and Catholic bishops have led against the Obama administration. The Archdiocese of New York is one of dozens of Catholic organizations suing federal government because of a portion of his health care overhaul that requires employers, including Catholic schools and hospitals but not houses of worship, to provide free contraception as part of employee health plans.
While it's customary for local Catholic bishops to speak at political conventions, it's rare to have someone of Dolan's stature come from out of town to speak. The most recent exception was in 1972, when Philadelphia Cardinal John Krol was president of the Catholic bishops' conference and flew to Miami to pray at the Republican convention the year Richard Nixon was nominated.
Dolan was first invited to speak at the RNC and accepted an invitation to the DNC afterwards. Through his spokesman, he has said that both benedictions were not endorsements or meant to be political. In a tweet on Thursday, Dolan said he would be in Charlotte "as a pastor. Not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate."
The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and senior pastor of Lamb's Church in New York City, also offered an invocation to before main events on Thursday evening. In his remarks, he prayed for God to "guide this great nation" and "help us all, Republicans, independents, and Democrats, never to tire in the work of justice and mercy." Salguero also prayed for God to "help us always to be mindful of the most vulnerable among us: the child, the widow, the orphan and the stranger."
Cardinal Dolan's Benediction at Democratic National Convention 2012
With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:
Let us Pray.
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.
We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.
We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.
We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.
We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.
And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.
And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.
For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”
So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.
Cardinal Dolan's Benediction at the Republican National Convention 2012
With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, let us pray:
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home. We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life. Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.
We lift up to your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms and drought and fire. We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.
Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us, and on those who would govern us: the president and vice-president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.
Almighty God, who gives us the sacred and inalienable gift of life, we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty. Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom. Make us truly free, by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love; prudently, and with justice; courageously, and in a spirit of moderation. Enkindle in our hearts a new sense of responsibility for freedom’s cause. And make us ever-grateful for all those who, for more than two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform.
May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God, and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making. Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed in our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone. May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self-control, our liberty in law.
We pray for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which you so richly blessed this nation.
We beseech your blessing on all who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who seek to conduct their lives in freedom.
Most of all, Almighty God, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.
For we are indeed “one nation under God.”
And “in God we trust.”
Dear God bless America. You who live and reign, forever and ever,