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White House doesn’t ‘see a problem’ with Cardinal Dolan prayer at GOP convention

As debate continues about whether Dolan’s appearance in Tampa next week is appropriate, the White House abstains from criticism.

In an election year when tension runs high between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the White House Thursday avoided any criticism of one of the best-known American prelates: Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York, who will deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention next week.

At the regular briefing for reporters at the White House Thursday, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked if he felt ???it???s appropriate that (Dolan) be speaking at the Republican Convention, or do you have any feelings on how it might affect the working relationship with the Cardinal or the association he represents moving forward????

The president???s top spokesman did not take the bait and simply said: ???I think there???s a tradition of religious leaders giving prayers or invocations at conventions. I don???t see a problem with that.???

Carney???s ???punting??? on the question comes at a time that the archbishop of New York, who has met several times with President Obama at the White House, has grown outspoken in his opposition to the administration???s mandate of contraception coverage in Catholic institutions. In addition, Cardinal Dolan has been the subject of an online petition calling on him to withdraw his invitation to Obama to attend the annual Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York.

???If Cardinal John O???Connor didn???t invite pro-abort Bill Clinton in 1996 and if Cardinal Egan didn???t invite pro-abort John Kerry in 2004, then on what grounds could Your Eminence find to invite Obama in 2012???? the petition asks Cardinal Dolan.

Liberal Catholics, in turn, have been weighing in against Dolan???s convention appearance. On the website of America Magazine, the weekly published by the Jesuits, Michael O???Loughlin recently wrote: ???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.???

But Carney ducked the controversy altogether.

NOTE: The first Catholic priest to address a national party convention was none other than Father Charles E. Coughlin of Royal Oak, Michigan. The year was 1932 and it was the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Known as the ???radio priest??? because he was one of the most-listened to radio personalities of the time, Father Coughlin drew wild cheers from Democrats when he endorsed the Democratic nominee and declared the election was ???Roosevelt or ruin.??? Coughlin later broke with FDR and grew so controversial over broadcasts that appeared to be excusing Hitler???s Germany in the 1930???s that most stations would no longer carry him. In 1942, Detroit???s Cardinal Mooney forbade Coughlin from publishing his ???Social Justice??? newspaper for apparently pro-Axis leanings. Coughlin remained a priest and died in 1979 at age 88.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as ???the man who knows everyone in Washington??? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what???s going on in the nation???s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ???Gizzi on Politics??? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ???Gizzi???s America,??? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John???s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com