I’ll have to be honest about my skepticism when it was announced that Cardinal Dolan would subject himself to rubbing shoulders with the party that officially includes abortion and same sex ‘marriage’ in their platform. Then word came down that this party had also excluded the word ‘God’. What a shocking and shameful day for the United States of America! That they rammed mention of our God-given rights back into their platform after the righteous indignation of the People, was not much salve for the wound that lay open from the initial omission of His holy Name.
While I adhere to the practice of showing respect to all of our Church leaders, I am also sensitive to a perception of endorsement of that which is not in line with Church teaching. The scandal that can result from an implied endorsement weighs heavy on my sensibilities. That sometimes shepherds make human, misguided choices (as we all do) is a part of the human condition and serves to remind us that they are not the foundation of the Church, Jesus is!
In the interest of full disclosure, I will go on record that I did not tune into the convention so this morning was my first opportunity to view video of Cardinal Dolan’s Benediction. The entire text was also available. Having seen the context of his words dispelled any fears that I had previously felt. His prayer was so powerful and unmistakably Catholic, that my heart soared as I heard each new phrase! Not only did he cover all of our differences with the secular world, he did so with an undeniable strength of conviction! The points that resonated with me were many but I will share a few excerpts with you.
He began in the same way that he addressed the first convention. And then became brilliantly pro-life – from conception to natural death…
…Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us…
We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.
Next he touched on liberty – including religious liberty…
We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love.
He went on…
We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.
In closing, he punctuated God’s role in our lives as Americans…
And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.
For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”
So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.
My skepticism turned to pure joy! What a great thing that I was so wrong! I am humbled to acknowledge that this was a very powerful moment. While it is unclear whether or not all media outlets stayed tuned to hear this masterful Benediction, I am certain that these were just the right words at just the right time for those in attendance. The text and video will live on, giving ample opportunity for review. All I have left to say at this moment is – AMEN!