“Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case,” O’Loughlin concluded.
Similarly, David Cruz-Uribe, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, wrote on the Vox Nova blog that Dolan’s decision “will only drag the Church further into a partisan divide and fuel the perception (true or not) that the Catholic Church wants to replace the Episcopalians as the Republican party on its knees.”
Conservative Catholics have, not surprisingly, welcomed Dolan’s appearance and hope it augurs well for Romney.
“I now predict that if Mitt Romney wins the White House in 2012 there will be a very healthy relationship between a Romney administration and the U.S. Bishops, led by a close working relationship between Cardinal Dolan and President Romney,” said Thomas Peters, who writes for CatholicVote.org, which has endorsed Romney and his Catholic running mate, Paul Ryan.
Romney disclosed the news of Dolan’s planned blessing on Wednesday (Aug. 22) during an interview on the conservative Catholic cable channel EWTN. He did so in the context of a discussion about his shared opposition with the bishops to the Obama administration’s controversial birth control mandate.
By tradition, the local bishop often delivers a prayer at the party convention meeting in his city, but it is highly unusual for another bishop — and the leader of the hierarchy — to fly in to deliver a benediction, as Dolan will do on Aug. 30, right after Romney is formally nominated.
Philadelphia’s Cardinal John Krol did so in 1972 when he was president of the bishops’ conference and went to Miami for the Republican convention that nominated Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. But that seems to be the only modern precedent.
Whether Dolan’s appearance will have any actual effect in swinging Catholic voters to Romney is unclear. Obama is holding a slim lead among Catholics at this point, and Catholics often ignore the hierarchy’s advice on political matters.
Dolan’s spokesman has sought to portray the cardinal’s appearance as purely nonpartisan: “It’s as a priest going to pray,” said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York.