.- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has accepted an invitation to offer the closing prayer at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“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,” New York archdiocese spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said in an Aug. 28 statement.
As previously announced, Cardinal Dolan will also give the benediction at the close of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Cardinal Dolan accepted the invitation after consulting and gaining the consent of Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., since the convention will be taking place in his diocese.
In preparation for the Sept. 3-6 convention, the Diocese of Charlotte has posted two “larger-than-life” banners to publicize the Church’s beliefs about marriage, human life and religious freedom, the Catholic News Herald reported Aug. 25.
The banners are hanging on two buildings owned by the diocese and are within feet of where the convention will take place.
A six-foot by 10-foot banner proclaims, “Religious Liberty, The Soul of Democracy,” while a six-foot by 27-foot banner at another location reads, “Protect the Unborn, Defend Marriage, Safeguard Religious Liberty.”
Cardinal Dolan has been an outspoken critic of the federal contraception mandate issued by the Obama administration in January 2011. It requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
Numerous dioceses, non-profit organizations and Catholic-owned businesses have sued the administration, arguing that the mandate violates the First Amendment by forcing them to compromise their deeply held religious convictions.
President Obama has also consistently supported legalized abortion and is the first U.S. president to openly advocate a redefining marriage to include homosexual couples.