Offering a benediction to close the Democratic National Convention last night, many wondered if Timothy Cardinal Dolan would raise the issue of religious freedom. He did.
Many wondered if he would pray for the unborn. He did.
Many wondered if he would pray for the sanctity of marriage. He did.
The DNC asked Cardinal Dolan to offer the benediction after he had been asked to offer the closing prayer at the RNC event. The invitation could be seen as a bit awkward as Dolan’s Archdiocese of New York is currently suing the Obama administration over the HHS contraceptive mandate.
But Cardinal Dolan didn’t seem awkward. That seems to be the thing with Cardinal Dolan. You ask for Cardinal Dolan, you get Cardinal Dolan. He doesn’t seem to shape himself to his setting.
But consider for a moment the bravery it takes to step to the podium in front of thousands and thousands of people who had just voted for a DNC platform that called for federal funding of abortion, supported a redefinition of marriage, and excluded (albeit temporarily) God from its official statement of beliefs.
But Cardinal Dolan wasn’t there to convince them of anything. In fact, he wasn’t even there to speak to them. He was there to speak with them. To God.
Everyone in the room knew what Cardinal Dolan meant when he thanked God for 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.
Dolan also prayed for the unborn saying, “We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.”
This was a beautiful prayer. And a brave prayer.
It was not an admonishment. It was Cardinal Dolan’s prayer for this country.
Here’s the full transcript:
With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:
Let us Pray.
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. 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.
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. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.
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. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.
We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.
And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.
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.