Is Obama’s Invitation to the Al Smith Dinner Causing Catholics to Lose Faith?

Shortly after American Life League’s “Open Letter to Cardinal Dolan” began reaching grassroots Americans, we received a disturbing and exceedingly sad e-mail from a Catholic named Nancy. She wrote:

How can we write the cardinal about the Obama invitation? If this is some underhanded work by our cardinal, I have finally lost all faith and trust in him and my Church. I can’t handle anymore. I’ve seen the Church do nothing for months unless it’s quietly done, but “quiet” doesn’t work.

We immediately responded to Nancy. In fact, as I read her words, the tears welled in my eyes because I realized that the confusion created by the Al Smith Dinner invitation to President Obama was going to have a tragic effect on many of my fellow Catholics. But I am a person of optimism and so, with the help of our staff, we wrote to her, saying: “Your dilemma, which is heartbreaking for you, your soul, and Christ, reflects the reality of scandal and how it affects the faithful. But dear friend, the love Christ has for you even during these troubling times has not changed and He embraces you now more than ever. Please, do not give up on the Church, but rather see the human frailty of a man like Cardinal Dolan and pray for him.”

The fact of the matter is that even though this is but one such message, the ramifications of the Obama invitation fiasco will be felt in more ways than we can know. When American Life League’s Defend the Faith spokesman, Michael Hichborn, commented on this very situation a few days ago, he said, “It is unthinkable for a Catholic charity to invite the man [President Obama] seeking the destruction of religious freedom in America to a fundraising event. This sends the wrong message to pew-sitting Catholics, who are anxiously looking to our bishops to stand up and fight against this clear enemy of the Church who will be joining them for dinner.”

Since Cardinal Dolan is the president of the Al Smith foundation, it is completely within his ability to cancel the invitation and move on. By choosing to do this, the confusion would be eliminated.

Just two weeks ago, in a letter to Congress, another prince of the Church, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote this regarding the draconian Obama contraceptive mandate: “Through this mandate, the [Obama] Administration is promoting an approach to religious freedom that is more grudging and arbitrary than any yet seen in federal law.”

And that’s the rub. Either it is true that Obama continues his crusade to marginalize the Church and use Catholics for his own benefit—including the Obama campaign’s “Catholics for Obama”—or it is not. But you cannot have it both ways. The leadership of the Church in America cannot complain about the Obama contraceptive mandate on Monday and dine with Obama on Tuesday. If they do, Catholics like our friend Nancy become confused, disheartened, and disconnected from the Church and the incredible blessings the Church and her magisterium provide.

Can any banquet—tradition or no tradition—be worth the loss of even one soul?

If you are pondering this and your answer is no, then please act today. Respectfully beseech Cardinal Timothy Dolan to withdraw his invitation to Obama and instead feed the poor of his grand city of New York.

You may contact Cardinal Dolan’s office directly at 212-371-1000 weekdays prior to 12 noon (EST). Cardinal Dolan’s secretary is Kathleen. Or you can e-mail your concerns to the communications director of the archdiocese, Mr. Joseph Zwilling, at [email protected]
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You may also write to the cardinal at:

His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022