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Dear Cardinal Dolan, Just Say No!

We are now 30 days away from the October 18 Al Smith Dinner. The opportunity for Cardinal Dolan to disinvite president Obama is fading quickly, and many are left wondering why it has not come to pass that the invitation has been withdrawn. 

Currently, the official website for the dinner lists Obama as a keynote speaker. This is ironic when one considers this description of the history of the event: “For over sixty years, luminous guest speakers have stepped from the world stage to honor and entertain Annual Dinner audiences with their light humor and political savvy.” 

How can a man so committed to killing the preborn and trashing religious freedom have anything remotely amusing to say? 

In off-election years celebrities like Bob Hope, Tom Brokaw, Bob Newhart, and Beverly Sills have been featured speakers at the dinner. This begs the question: Is it time to change the election-year cycle tradition and stick with genuinely entertaining folks instead of political opportunists and culture of death aficionados?

Apparently even the secretary of state for the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is aware of the challenges American Catholic leaders such as Cardinal Dolan confront every day as they attempt to navigate a course through the culture of death. Bertone recently warned a group of newly appointed bishops from America and Canada about the temptation of falling prey to human respect. During his address he said, “If people criticize us because we are not faithfully living our vocation and our mission, certainly we must examine ourselves and change. . . . But if we are criticized because we aren’t living according to the criteria of the world and the fashion of the moment, we must remain firm in our fidelity to the Gospel and to the authentic teaching of the church.”

That sentiment is the precise reason why we have sought from Cardinal Dolan a public cancellation of his invitation to President Obama. The “criteria of the world” are such that the cardinal is expected to do what has been a tradition within the context of the Al Smith affair, but others before him have not, refusing to be cowed into observing the status quo. Cardinal John O’Connor did not have William Jefferson Clinton at the 1996 dinner because of his pro-abortion position. Cardinal Edward Egan asked John Kerry not to attend the 2004 event for the same reason.

Recently Cardinal Dolan spoke of the crisis Catholics confront in America because of the ominous threats to religious freedom. According to EWTN News, “He voiced concern that ‘the promotion and protection of religious liberty is becoming caricatured as some narrow, hyper-defensive, far-right, self-serving cause.’”

The cardinal is absolutely correct, but does he not realize that the architect of this distortion being drawn so carefully by the press is none other than President Barack Obama? How can Dolan feel comfortable even being in the same arena with this man, let alone at a dinner table with him?

It is Obama, not a surrogate, who consistently defends his birth control mandate, saying it would not be “fair” to women if their Catholic employers did not provide a means to have their birth control paid for—even though doing so is a violation of Catholic teaching.

It is Obama, not a surrogate, who tells audiences that he supports Planned Parenthood and its plethora of “services”—many of which result in the deaths of preborn children.

We believe that Cardinal Dolan is in a tight spot and that his opportunity to make President Obama uncomfortable with his personal choice to commit himself to killing the innocent is dwindling. It is our sincere hope that the cardinal will, even if at the last moment, choose the integrity of Christ and His Church over the appearances of congeniality.

All we ask Cardinal Timothy Dolan is that he exemplify—by rescinding the invitation to Obama—the message that he has already given us: “We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it.”

Please, Your Eminence, do not bring scandal to dinner.

No Dinner for Obama!