I hate to sink the levity of the Democratic National Convention, because it was an uplifting revival and all, but in the words of this fellow on Twitter, the finale was "kind of like tossing a turd into a punchbowl."
Democrats selected Cardinal Timothy Dolan—president of the brazenly right-wing United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is essentially the American Vatican—to deliver a closing prayer, an opportunity that he used to oppose contraception and marriage equality.
"We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected," Dolan told the Time Warner Cable Arena immediately after Obama's speech, adding that the crowd seek "the courage to defend... life." (The full text is here.) He went on to take a thinly veiled swipe at same-sex marriage: "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've given us for the nurturing of life and community."
The DNC was wonderful, but this was seriously fucked up. Dolan's "prayer" was the opposite of everything this convention was purportedly about.
It's not like Dolan slipped this in. It's not as though he pulled something over on the Democrats. The DNC organizers had to know full well what Dolan believes and what he might say when they invited him (his speech tonight was similar to one he gave at the RNC).
Running the US bishops since 2010, Dolan has howled at the president for supporting same-sex marriage. Dolan threw a fit to demand that all businesses could deny women's health-care coverage for contraception. Under Dolan, the bishops have steered the church's efforts to overturn same-sex marriage in Washington State. While the list could go on and on, under Dolan, the US bishops and Vatican are also forcing US sisters and nuns to drop their focus on the poor and "feminist themes" and instead adopt anti-gay, anti-choice politicking.
Dolan represents—and his speech was an example of—the same divisive, hateful rhetoric that Dems claimed to denounce all week. And, yeah, you could say they're just pandering to a moderate Catholic middle. But, by that thinking, you could also say those other speeches were just pandering to gays and women. But that's all speculation. Here's what's not: The Democrats brought a bigot to give a bigoted speech at their convention. They could have picked someone just as religious and far more virtuous.
As long as the Catholic Church in America is run by a divisive politician like Dolan, he doesn't deserve a platform to claim moral authority. And God knows, in 2012, the Democrats should be the last people to give it to him.