.- Fr. John B. Ardis, the director of the Paulist Center in Boston, who gave the benediction at yesterday’s closing session of the Democratic National Convention, said his goal was to “bring the convention to a close in prayer” and to challenge “all of us to our responsibility as citizens,” reported the Boston Globe.
The Catholic priest’s acceptance to speak at the convention is somewhat controversial since several Catholic cardinals, such as Cardinals Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago and John J. O'Connor of New York, declined in the past to speak at Democratic conventions over the years because of the party's support for abortion rights.
Fr. Ardis told the Globe he personally opposes abortion, but he equally opposes capital punishment, the war in Iraq, and public policies he considers unjust toward the poor.
During yesterday’s benediction, however, he only alluded to the abortion issue with a call to "respect for life in all of its forms."
In preparation for his benediction, Fr. Ardis studied the invocation given by Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles at the 2000 Democratic convention that elected Al Gore as candidate four years ago. However, Cardinal Mahony, who was criticized by pro-lifers for attending the convention, openly mentioned the need to defend the life of the unborn.
The Paulist Center, which draws from 800 to 1,200 people for mass each weekend, says it is one of the earliest Catholic houses of worship to welcome divorced members. The congregation welcomes homosexuals and emphasizes “leadership for women.”
Before Easter, Fr. Ardis said he would welcome Kerry to Communion regardless of his support for abortion rights.