Dolan and the bishops have become increasingly critical of Obama as policy differences over gay marriage and abortion rights have provided ammunition for fierce rhetorical blasts from many bishops and their allies, who have compared Obama to a totalitarian dictator, or worse.
Earlier this month, Baltimore Archbishop William P. Lori, an up-and-coming voice in the hierarchy who has led the campaign against the administration’s contraception policy, gave an interview that was widely viewed as indicating that a good Catholic could not vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, as Obama does.
At the same time, Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate has brought an outpouring of praise from several bishops. Some of them like Ryan’s proposals on cutting entitlements and taxes, despite the conflict that other bishops see between those policies and Catholic teaching.
Others, like Dolan, who was archbishop of Milwaukee before coming to New York in 2009, have close personal ties to Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman. Dolan has often taken a softer line on Ryan’s policies than other Catholic leaders, and his praise has grown as Ryan’s visibility has increased.
Dolan recently told a radio program that he is “happy” Ryan is on the GOP ticket and called him a “great public servant.”
“We go way back, Congressman Paul Ryan and I,” Dolan said. “I came to know and admire him immensely. And I would consider him a friend. He and his wife Janna and their three kids have been guests in my house; I’ve been a guest at their house. They’re remarkably upright, refreshing people.”
Ryan’s own bishop, Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, has also emerged as a strong defender of Ryan’s Catholic bona fides.
Morlino wrote a column this month expressing pride in Ryan’s “accomplishments as a native son, and a brother in the faith.” And on Tuesday he told a radio program that Ryan is an “excellent Catholic layman of the very highest integrity” who “understands the principles of Catholic social teaching” and applies them “very responsibly.”
There was at least one bit of good news for Catholic Democrats this week, however. Organizers of next month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, a major political rally for the religious right, announced that Cardinal Dolan had been invited to speak. But Zwilling said that wouldn’t happen.
“He has not received an invitation as far as we can tell,” Zwilling said. “In any event, he is not going.”
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