Cardinal Dolan to give benediction at Dem convention

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“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention,” USCCB spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement first obtained by Commonweal magazine. “As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican convention on Thursday of this week.

“It was made clear to the Democratic convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform or candidate,” the statement continued. "The cardinal consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese.”

Earlier this year, the White House took political heat over a contraception mandate, under which employers' insurers provide birth control to their employees without a co-pay, from critics who said it was a violation of religious liberty.

Under pressure, Obama announced an “accommodation” meant to allow exceptions to the mandate for Catholic hospitals and other religiously affiliated groups. Critics said that accommodation didn’t go far enough.

Dolan has been at odds with the Obama administration’s policy, calling it “a dramatic radical intrusion of government bureaucracy in the internal life” of the Catholic Church, and he has vowed to continue to fight the ruling.

But the USCCB has also clashed with some in the GOP this year, most prominently the party’s vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). It has criticized the budget Ryan authored for cutting food stamps and other assistance programs for the poor.

Ryan had previously said his Catholic faith helped shape the budget.