Over the past week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has been hammered by liberals for accepting an invitation to give benediction at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Now that he will close both conventions, they look even more foolish. Here’s a sample of what Dolan’s critics have said.
Andrew Sullivan called Dolan “The Republican Party Cardinal.” The Boston Herald’s Margery Eagan called him an “opportunist.” Mike D’Antonio at the Huffington Post accused Dolan of “leading the bishops in a partisan direction.” John Gehring of Faith & Public Life said he was “baptizing the Republican nominee.” Mike O’Loughlin at America accused him of “being a shill for the GOP.” The National Catholic Reporter said Dolan was “playing a dangerous game.” Sarah Posner at Salon said Dolan’s acceptance “solidifies a partisan partnership between the GOP and the Bishops.” Niall O’Dowd at the Irish Voice said his presence “is a dog whistle to all Catholics out there to support the GOP candidates.” And the Los Angeles Times editorialized that Dolan has “placed his imprimatur” on the Republican strategy.
The fundamental difference between Cardinal Dolan and these critics comes down to one thing: he is a man of principle and they don’t know how to spell the word. He invited President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, knowing he would receive flak from some on the right. Then he agreed to speak at the RNC, knowing he would be blasted by some on the left. Now he has accepted an invitation to speak at the DNC and none of his critics—on both the left and the right—can figure him out.
What this shows is that Cardinal Dolan is able to rise above the politics of the moment. But to those who view the world exclusively through the lens of power, this is completely unintelligible.