Cardinal Dolan’s Endgame


My most recent column, “In Defense of Cardinal Dolan,” generated quite a bit of feedback. Some readers were convinced that it reflected a sense of false hope born of naiveté; others thought they detected a rather large dose of satire. For the record, one of these assessments is correct, but I’ll leave it to you to decide which one.

The bottom line is this; the gravely serious charges ascribed to the Cardinal’s detractors as described in that column are no longer a matter of speculation; that is, apart from one very important, as yet unknown, detail; one that has the potential for turning this entire affair on its head. (Sorry for baiting, but you’ll have to keep reading to discover it.)

What is most important now is that we come to terms with Cardinal Dolan’s decision.

Ed Mechmann of the Archdiocese of New York touched on the crux of the matter when he blogged, “The politicians who speak at the [Al Smith] dinner are not being given any honor.”

Can he be serious?

I’d really like to see a copy of the formal invitation that was sent to Barack Obama in the name of the Cardinal Archbishop. If I was a betting man, I’d be willing to wager that it reads something like this:

“His Eminence is pleased to request the honor of your presence…”

“Oh, but in that case,” an apologist might object, “the Cardinal is the one being honored!”

I’m not sure which concept is more disgusting, but in any event, consider a page on the Al Smith Foundation website listing past “luminous guest speakers [that]have stepped from the world stage to honor and entertain Annual Dinner audiences with their light humor and political savvy.”

There it is again, honor. So, maybe it’s true. Maybe the Cardinal will be honored (not to mention, entertained) by that “luminous” enemy of the Church, Barack Obama.

Either way, among the previous luminaries listed on the Al Smith website is the “Honorable Barack Obama;” one of the speakers at the dinner in 2008.

And now here we are, one HHS mandate, four years and some 5 million innocent human beings later and one wonders, is Cardinal Dolan still comfortable applying the title “honorable” to Barack Obama? If not, why did he invite him?

More to the point is the fact that dining with Cardinal Dolan as his invited guest, whenever it may be, (like Chick-fil-A, for instance) is an honor. Heck, a high-five from a Prince of the Church would be an honor! The only people who don’t recognize that fact (Obama undoubtedly one of them) are those who have no concept of what it means to say that our bishops are the Successors to the Apostles that were handpicked by Christ.

The sad fact of the matter is that many in the sacred hierarchy suffer from just such an identity crisis themselves; their behavior indicating that they see themselves more as political operatives and consensus builders than Fathers who are called sanctify, teach and govern with the authority of Christ the King.

Does that apply to Cardinal Dolan? Ask me the day after the Al Smith Dinner and I’ll let you know.

As of this moment, everyone who gives a hoot about the Church has every reason to be concerned that a terrible scandal is in the offing. Naturally, faithful Catholics, after responding so generously to the Fortnight for Freedom, feel betrayed.

Can anyone be surprised by the outrage being expressed by those who fully expect to see, just weeks before the election, images of Barack Obama – an unapologetic enemy of Christianity who is Hell bent (literally) on propagating intrinsic evil – clinking wineglasses and laughing it up with the nation’s highest profile prelate?

I certainly don’t; in fact, you can count me among the outraged. The actual scandal, however, has yet to take place and there is still a chance (however small) that Cardinal Dolan is simply laying the groundwork for a new shot heard ‘round the world at a time when we desperately need one.

Naïve satirist that I am, I cannot help but hope and pray that there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, and if I could write the script, the end will look something like this:

The ever smug Barack Obama will walk into the Al Smith Dinner on October 18th bearing the kind of condescending smirk that only a liberal can muster; certain that he is about to plunge yet another knife into the heart of the Church thanks to the graciousness of his trusting host.

But what the wolf is about to discover is that this shepherd is no ordinary dove; rather, he’s wise as a serpent and he’s ready to strike. It’s a set-up; an opportunity for Cardinal Dolan to set things right in a way that will make crystal clear the fact that the Church, and our nation, is doing battle not just against bad ideas, but against evil itself.

At long last, the two-faced scoundrel from Pennsylvania Avenue will receive at least some of the just reward he deserves for making the mistake of treating Cardinal Dolan like a buffoon some nine months earlier when he looked the prelate square in the eye and lied about his high regard for the Church and his unwillingness to attack her via mandate.

Obama’s punishment? The one liars deplore most: listening to the truth.

As the fine dining concludes and the time for hilarity draws near, the unsuspecting Obama will be the picture of a man victorious, believing the photo-op coupe de grace is already his. But what he doesn’t yet realize is that he brought a knife to the wrong kind of fight. You see, the Cardinal Archbishop – the man who solemnly pledged before the Almighty to defend the flock unto martyrdom is wielding the sword of truth – and there’s no escaping its razor-sharp edge.

Oh, sure, Obama will do his level best to grin through the humiliation of having to listen to the Gospel of Life as Cardinal Dolan, with neither malice nor fear, does precisely what he’s been ordained to do; namely, to preach the Word of God to both heathen and believer alike, especially in times of trouble.

But, try as he might to avoid it, the watchful eye of the media will capture in the face of Barack Obama the unmistakable glare of a man who hates the Lord and the Church He founded.

Game, set, match – Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Now don’t get me wrong, even if this happens the sun will rise the following morning on our enemies just as it will on us, and rest assured their hatred will be multiplied tenfold, but so what? At least for one night the children of the Church in the United States will go to sleep confident that their shepherd has a backbone as sturdy as his crozier, and what’s more, he’s on duty; watching over the flock.

Do I think any of this is likely?

No, of course not, but then again, neither do I think it impossible. And so, we will pray.



About Author

Catholic News Agency columnist, author and speaker w/ particular focus on applying the hermeneutic of continuity to Vatican Council II.

  • alv11718

    Fear not. Let us remember the scandal that Jesus Himself caused because He ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners– and even more so, let us remember Jesus’ reply:

    And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)

  • noelfitz

    Mr Verracchio,

    thank you for this article, illustrated with a rather slim Cardinal Dolan. In it are you truthful or being satirical?

    Previously when Romney was a liberal Republican did he gain $50 million in dealing in the fetus disposal business (Stericycle)?

    In liberal Massachusetts is the health care, initiated by Romney, more abortion friendly than Obamacare ?

    Is the flip-flop on abortion sincere or will there be another flip-flop?

    The bottom line for Romney seems to be getting money. Similarly to drug dealers, Mafia bosses, African dictators and crooked politicians does he use secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Cayman Islands and Bermuda to hide money? He refuses to reveal his tax returns, why is this?

    Is he ashamed of amassing hundreds of millions, much of this from firing American workers?

    Would the non-Christian Romney make a better President than the Christian Obama?

  • florin

    Aug. 15th: PLEASE CALL FOR A MORATORIUM!! Card. Dolan may not mean his invitation to honor Obama to be an endorsement of him and his policies but it will be seen that way by many. I know that God can bring good out of evil but satan can bring evil out of good intentions. Obama has betrayed Card. Dolan’s trust before and he can now use the Cardinal’s invitation to prove to wavering Catholics that they can vote for him because he has made things right with the Cardinal and with the Church. Keep in mind that during the dinner and the party and the drinking, babies will be being slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers. One can put aside politics but the slaughter will not be put aside – unless Cardinal Dolan ask Obama to CALL FOR A MORATORIUM ON THE KILLING! Obama can issue an executive order to stop the killing during the time of the dinner. There is a story about the Germans and the Americans calling for a moratorium on Christmas eve during the war so each side could enjoy a brief peace to honor the Prince of Peace. Let those babies scheduled for death in the womb be given a reprieve…Cardinal Dolan: it’s surely worth a try! Please! May God give you wisdom and courage to act according to His will and in defense of the unborn.

  • florin

    Aug. 15th: I don’t doubt Card. Dolan’s motives but he has been used by Obama before and Card. Dolan does want to be politically correct. When asked why he continued to allow Cuomo to receive the Eucharist despite the fact that he lives openly with his mistress and supports abortion and same sex marriage, the Cardinal said he does not believe in refusing the Eucharist to anyone because to do so would be to ‘politicize’ the Eucharist. Really? St. Paul must be wrong then when he speaks of guidelines for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ worthily? To offer the Eucharist to those who PUBLICLY sin and cause scandal is to affirm those persons in their sin and to deny them the possibility of conversion of heart. Would Card. Dolan offer the Eucharist to those who would promote pedophilia? As for Obama, Obama has made a fool out of the Cardinal before and will do so again as he poses smilingly for photos with the Cardinal and will convince wavering Catholics that he has made things right with the Cardinal and the Church. So much is said about the ‘mandate’ – which deals with financial aspects of abortion but let’s talk about the millions and millions of babies being slaughtered in the wombs of their mother -all those who will be killed while the Cardinal is partying with the one who is ordering that the killing continue. Would the Cardinal have invited Herod to be an honored speaker at a dinner while orders to slaughter the Holy Innocents was being carried out? I just do not understand this…if the Cardinal wants to ‘convert’ Obama then let him do as Pope Benedict did with Nancy Pelosi…meet privately with him, away from the cameras …Pope Benedict wisely refused to give Nancy Pelosi the opportunity to use their meeting as a photo-op…Cardinal Dolan should learn from the Holy Father and do the same. I met an elderly woman who had an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on one lapel and a picture of Obama on the other (before the last election) – I explained to her that O.L. of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn while Obama is the most rabid anti-life, pro-abortion President in history. She refused to believe this because she said that she believed Obama when he said he was not pro-abortion. Perception is everything and while God can bring good out of evil, satan can bring evil out of the Cardinal’s good intention of sitting down to dinner and a party with Obama. Does the Cardinal really want to risk the lives of unborn babies? His life is not at risk – theirs are! And if Obama wins 4 more years because he is able to convince wavering Catholics that he’s made things right with the Cardinal, then more babies will die at his command and more persecution for the Church. Please Cardinal Dolan, ask Obama to DECLARE A MORATORIUM on the killing of unborn babies during your party and dinner together. Ask publicly for this…and we will await Obama’s response. You have nothing to lose except the lives of millions and millions of unborn human babies.

  • goral

    Yes! non-Christian Romney would be better than christian Obama. We’re not choosing a pope, Noelfitz, but a leader of a nation. Romney, while lacking some attributes, has the right stuff to govern.
    Obama never did have anything to offer except his Marxist class warfare politics.
    His Christianity is that of Hugo Chavez and Sandanista variety.

    I’m a bit surprised that in four years you haven’t detected that. B. Hussein Obama needs to exit the stage.
    He won’t go back to Kenya, so maybe you could find a host country for him in christian Europe.

  • noelfitz

    Well said! Thanks for your post.

    Possibly more Catholics will vote for Obama than for Romney. The Hispanic/Latino Catholic vote will favor Obama. It would be a pity if the bishops seemed to suggest Catholicism was for wealthy, selfish, Caucasian middle classes of European origin. The immigrant, the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the oppressed should be our concern.

    Babies were being aborted in Massachusetts before Obamacare. Romney’s health reforms did not protect unborn babies in Massachusetts. The US under Reagan and the Bushes did not abolish abortion.

    You wrote: “There is a story about the Germans and the Americans calling for a moratorium on Christmas eve during the war so each side could enjoy a brief peace to honor the Prince of Peace.” Are you thinking about the Christmas Day moratorium in 1914, when German, British and French troops fraternized, to the disgust of the High Commands, who considered it treason? Sorry for being pedantic.

    I was interested to read “Obama never did have anything to offer except his Marxist class warfare politics.” This is interesting as I had not realized this was so. Is this the accepted view in America?

  • florin

    Noelfitz…are you implying that to vote for Romney signifies racism because he is white?? Or to disinvite Obama would be racism?? I don’t play those games when the lives of millions of unborn babies are at stake.The immigrants, the poor, the sick were all unborn babies…and no one- no one is more oppressed than the unborn baby…the poor and the sick and the marginalized have those who fight for them (including myself – do you?) and they always have the opportunity to better themselves. The baby in the womb will not have that opportunity if he is killed. Our concern is for all…I worked with Mother Teresa in India and she felt that if we kill the innocent unborn baby in the womb, what would we not do? The nonsense that we who stand for the defense of the life of the baby in the womb but for no other life is a malicious lie and we are not talking about what happened before..nor are we talking about politics, we are talking about the life of millions and millions of unborn babies and, let’s not forgets the billions of lives that those babies would have generated. As far as the moratorium I spoke of…you seem to want to tear apart anything that speaks of life or of peace…I was talking about groups of men on both sides who wanted a time out from war to celebrate Mass or have a religious service…they were Christians…stop trying to bring things down – and frankly, at this point I don’t care if Obama is a Muslim or a Marxist..all I know is that he does not want babies who survive abortion to be cared for but wants them left to die alone…why? He said that if he admits that a baby who survives an abortion is human then he would have to admit that the baby in the womb moments before the abortion is also human…and that would cause problems. It’s time for the killing to stop…if you have a problem with that or if you think it’s fine for someone to party with a man who continues to order the mass slaughter of the innocent, then that is your right…by the way you do not know that more Catholics would vote for Obama this year and you certainly do not know that the Hispanic/Latino vote will go to Obama…I know many Hispanics and they are not voting for Obama because of his stand on gay marriage and because they are learning that most abortions are being performed on black and Latino women and that Margaret Sanger’s intent from the beginning was to eliminate ‘undesirables’…as more and more Catholic Hispanics learn the truth, they are turning from Obama…but that is a side issue…if Cardinal Dolan calls for a moratorium on the killing during their dinner, that will speak volumes about the sacredness of each and every human life.

  • noelfitz

    thank you so much for your long and considered reply to me.

    You raise many valid questions. I consider debate is important and I would like to have more discussions in CL.

    It is not an important issue whether a vote for Obama is racist or not. People vote for various reasons and some may be racists others not.

    You call for a moratorium on abortion, I would prefer its complete cessation.

    But I am not too sure about the relative positions of Obama and Romney on abortion.

    In liberal Massachusetts Romney appeared to support abortion, now he seems anti-abortion. But will he flip-flop again?

    To me he seems to see the bottom-line as accumulating wealth for himself and his wealthy friends. This wealth he seems to hide in Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Bermuda etc. and refuses to reveal his tax returns.

    I read:
    Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate cements Romney’s own 180-degree turnabout on abortion. Ten years ago, as a candidate for governor, Romney promised to “protect the right of a woman to choose,” and pledged not to change “our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts.” (


    Running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney had declared himself a supporter of a woman’s right to choose on abortion, and claimed he would do more for gay rights than Kennedy (

  • florin

    Noelfitz…if you are not sure about the relative positions of Romney and Obama on abortion, then you should follow them more closely. Obama has evolved on same sex marriage from against it to for it. Romney has evolved from a pro-choice position in a radical blue state to a pro-life position, solidified by his choice of a consistent pro-life Catholic, Paul Ryan. You say Romney ‘seems’ to see the bottom line as accumulating wealth for himself and his wealthy friends – you spread Obama’s talking points with a ‘seems to be’..shame on you. More people are coming for to speak about how Mitt Romney helped them and their family quietly, not dramatically. You say Romney ‘appeared’ to support abortion and now he ‘seems’ to be anti-abortion-again, you spread Obama’s talking points for him so that wavering Catholics will see that Mr Romney ‘appears/seems’ to be no different from Obama. However Mr. Romney ‘seems/appears’ to be in your opinion, there is no doubt about where Obama stands in his agenda of death for the pre-born and post-born human babies; or in his agenda of persecution of the Church and her teachings; or in his agenda of legalizing everywhere same-sex marriage; or in his agenda of forcing the Church to pay for contraception, sterilizations; abortifacitient drugs, etc. In the face of Obama’s many agendas, Cardinal George has declared that we are facing a real persecution and that he will close down all Catholic institutions and go to jail rather than comply with Obama’s agendas. No need to do that; just refuse to comply and let Obama send his troops out to arrest all our Cardinals and Bishops and Priests and faithful Christians who stand against him. And of course I want to see a cessation of all abortions…how bizarre to think otherwise. But here and now let’s at least have a moratorium – that would send a powerful messagge to the anti life people. We have tried politically correct approaches, dialogue, etc. and it has not worked. Human babies are still being slaughtered – the hidden, silent holocaust goes on! Martin Luther King in his letter from the Birmingham jail said we need more dramatic action…he asked if negotiation is the better path but replied that direct ACTION is dramatize the issue that can no longer be ignored. The issue is not being ignored but a call for a moratorium while Obama is partying with Catholics would raise the awareness of the death agenda to new levels. Generations of human beings have already been exterminated. It’s time to stop the killing!!

  • noelfitz

    thank you for your recent contribution.
    You advise me to study the relative positions of Romney and Obama more carefully. This is good advice. So I am trying to find out what Romney has done, as actions may speak louder than words.

    As governor of Massachusetts he presided over the reduction of funding for higher education, cutting state aid for cities and towns and used federal grants extensively.

    He signed into law the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, which provided near-universal health insurance access via state-level subsidies The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney’s governorship. Romney developed a warm relationship with Ted Kennedy which facilitated his health reforms, which were his greatest achievement in Massachusetts.

    In 2005, Romney changed from an “unequivocal” pro-choice position on abortion, on which he had campaigned when seeking the governorship, to a pro-life position. You might like to refer to to learn about Romney’s pro-choice position.

    Also you might like to look at

    Romney was pro-choice and pro-gay rights as governor of Massachusetts, can you trust one who has flip-flopped so blatantly?

    If you consider Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security important should you vote for Romney? If you think middle income earners and the poor should pay higher taxes that the super-wealthy them Romney may be the better choice.

  • goral

    “I was interested to read “Obama never did have anything to offer except his Marxist class warfare politics.” This is interesting as I had not realized this was so. Is this the accepted view in America?”

    It is the accepted view by people like me.
    It is not the accepted view by people of your political bent, Noelfitz.

  • noelfitz

    many thanks for your post. Pope Benedict XVI has fought hard to combat relativism, as did Blessed John Henry Newman. That truth exists is part of Catholic teaching

    Everyone’s truth is not equally valid. Objective truth does exist, thus your claim that “Obama never did have anything to offer except his Marxist class warfare politics” is either true or false. It is important to determine if your claim is valid.

  • florin

    Aug. 17th Noelfitz…I’ve noticed for some time now that you go to websites not to overtly defend Obama but to go after those who oppose him. sorry, your tactics don’t work with me. Spread Obama’s themes elsewhere…Obama’s past and present actions and words are adamently against life and against freedom of religion and against the free market…I have looked into Romney’s past and present, not just politically, but his personal life and character and he stands leagues above Obama…I will not waste time responding to your attempts to infiltrate Christian websites to promote your boy Obama in subtle and not so subtle ways…

  • florin

    Noelfitz…you are really in line with Obama’s agenda to take from those who have worked hard all their lives and have been successful in order to give to those who have no desire to work but have their hands out to grab all they can from those who have worked hard…redistribution of wealth…great idea. Let’s see where the jobs fall when there’s no one else to create them…as for Romney, he’s a better man than you are trying to create opportunity for everyone who wants to work hard…while Obama pleads with blacks and Latinos to go on welfare and food stamps…so they will never be challenged to reach their potential and become a threat to the system he wants to create…follow Obama if you will, but stop trying to lure others into his camp…

  • noelfitz

    many thanks for your two replies to me. I am grateful to you for entering into discussion with me. However I am particularly grateful to Mary who allowed my posts to be included in CL, even though not all participants here would agree with me. I think it is healthy to hear various view and to have debates, so we may clarify our thinking and learn from each other.

    I agree that discussion groups should be monitored, so that personal attacks on people are avoided, but sincere discussions may be fostered.

    As a Catholic I abhor killing, and hence I am strongly against abortion. Nowadays using scans one can see children in the womb and it is perfectly clear that humans exist prior to birth.

    Catholics should be in favor of helping the poor. When we give to the poor we give to Jesus. Paul was advised to remember the poor ( “They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do” Gal 2:10). I make no apology for supporting helping those in need.

    You wrote “as for Romney, he’s a better man than you are”. You possibly are correct.