Al Smith Dinner

FEAST OF ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

Last week I was out in Anaheim for the annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. It was, as usual, a most uplifting and inspirational event.

In his rousing address to the thousands of delegates, representing 1.8 million knights, Dr. Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight, exhorted us to a renewed sense of faithful citizenship, encouraging us not to be shy about bringing the values of faith to the public square. This duty, he reminded us, came not just from the fact that we are Catholic, but also from the fact that we are loyal Americans.

He then went on to announce a promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics. Quoting a very recent study, he noted that over 80% of Americans are fed up with the negativity, judgmentalism, name-calling, and mudslinging of our election-year process, and eagerly want a campaign of respect, substance, amity — civility!

For seven decades, the Al Smith Dinner here in New York has been an acclaimed example of such civility in political life. As you may know, every four years, during the presidential election campaign, the Al Smith Dinner is the venue of history, as it is the only time outside of the presidential debates that the two presidential candidates come together, at the invitation of the Al Smith Foundation, through the archbishop of New York, for an evening of positive, upbeat, patriotic, enjoyable civil discourse.  This year, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accepted our invitation. I am grateful to them.

The evening has always had a special meaning, as it is named after Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic nominated, in 1928, as a candidate for president, who was viciously maligned because of his own Catholic faith.  Smith was known as The Happy Warrior, because while he fought fiercely for what he believed was right, he never sought to demonize those who opposed him.  And, the dinner named in his honor is truly life-affirming as it raises funds to help support mothers in need and their babies (both born and unborn) of any faith, or none at all.

The Al Smith Dinner has never been without controversy, since, as Carl Anderson reminded us, politics can inspire disdain and negativity as well as patriotism and civility.

This year is surely no exception: I am receiving stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama (and by the way, even some objecting to the invitation to Governor Romney).

The objections are somewhat heightened this year, since the Catholic community in the United States has rightly expressed vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license, and his approval of mandates which radically intruded upon Freedom of Religion. We bishops, including yours truly, have been unrelenting in our opposition to these issues, and will continue to be.

So, my correspondents ask, how can you justify inviting the President? Let me try to explain.

For one, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner is not an award, or the provision of a platform to expound views at odds with the Church. It is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.

Two, the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

Three, the teaching of the Church, so radiant in the Second Vatican Council, is that the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue. In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one. Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements. Thus did our present Holy Father graciously receive our current President of the United States.  And, in the current climate, we bishops have maintained that we are open to dialogue with the administration to try and resolve our differences.  What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

Finally, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values, particularly the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom. In fact, one could make the case that anyone attending the dinner, even the two candidates, would, by the vibrant solidarity of the evening, be reminded that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion, assemble on behalf of poor women and their babies, born and unborn, in a spirit of civility and respect.

Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So, I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?

No matter what you might think of this particular decision, might I ask your prayers for me and my brother bishops and priests who are faced with making these decisions, so that we will be wise and faithful shepherds as God calls us to be?

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

*Due to an overwhelming response to this blog post, the comment section is now closed.

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343 Responses to “Al Smith Dinner”

  1. Love him,

    Wish every good in all he does.

    Blessings

    Teresa

  2. Tim says:

    Your Eminence;

    Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on this subject. For my part, I do remain concerned that President Obama will take this opportunity to use it for his political gain, confusing at least some of the laity as to whether his policies are in accord with the Catholic teachings and create further division within the Church.

    On the other hand, we know that God can convert anyone (see Sts. Paul and Augustine), so if this event happens I will pray that He working through you can work the same miracle on BMO.

    God Bless. Tim

  3. JoAnn Ramos-Alarilla says:

    Excellency,

    I understand your intent but I think many of the flock will not see beyond the powerful media image of Obama and you “breaking bread”, interpret that as a signal all is well, and vote for him in November. That image, at a minimum, will be most confusing to many folks that do not follow the issues of life. You’ve been in dialogue with Obama before and after he passed the HHS Mandate. The president is not open to dialogue and only serves to continue to divide the faithful into “Pelosi/Biden” or “Ryan/Santorum” Catholic examples.

    Please please do not send a message that will only confuse the “flock”.

    Respectfully submitted,

    JoAnn Ramos-Alarilla

  4. Donna Ruth says:

    Your Emminence,

    Thank you for this, and, yes, I will pray.

    As you spoke by telephone with Bill Donohue regarding this issue, had you considered phoning leaders like Michael Voris of Church Mliitant TV, Judie Brown of Life League, and John-Henry Weston of Lifesite News to personally encourage them to understand you have weighed this carefully? Maybe you have already done so.

    These groups I imagine are part of the “piety police” to which Mr. Donohue so imprudently referred to in his TV interview. A call from you might take the edge off their stated vocal concerns – or even reverse their stances. After all, we all share the same deep concern: to see President Obama voted out of office.

  5. Susan Mary says:

    The invitation sends an unspoken message, especially to the many Catholics who are not well-formed in their faith, that it’s okay to vote for President Obama. It’s a scandal, and this must be rescinded!

  6. Vinny says:

    Your Eminence:

    Yes, I pledge to continue praying for you because of your teaching office. But think of WHO and WHAT that occupant in the White House is (liar through and through; wily, arrogant, etc.) and done for the Lord. He has used all the platforms that Catholic institutions, including the Al Smith Foundation, to say sweet things and give us lemons!

    I just hope that the Lord’s injunction to us and to you, ordained teacher of the faith, will ring loud and clear:

    Say yes when you mean yes. And no when you mean no! There is no maybe or I don’t have an opinion on him because of what he has done. He has appeared to be a “Christian” and did everything that is unChristian.

    God have mercy on you if you still allow your Office to be used by him! Thank you.

  7. Mary Greene says:

    Will you at least keep the cameras off? No pictures. No video. No audio. No press. Can you keep it private between you, Catholic Charities, the donors, the politicians, and whoever else is attending?

    Our worst fear is providing the picture-is-worth-a-thousand words moment to the President. When Pope Benedict met with Nancy Pelosi, he refused her the photo op she so wickedly wanted. When he met with Obama, the video and pictures were of a head-of-state meeting with a head-of-state. They are not telling each other jokes.

    Jesus dined with sinners PRIVATELY. You can too and still accomplish everything you want from the evening, even while mitigating the public scandal of smiling approval that is inevitable if the cameras are rolling.

  8. Mark says:

    Your Eminence;
    Thank you for your words. I would hope that at the dinner you will take the opportunity to share with the President the very strong opposition there has been with the invitation and especially the reasons for that opposition. I think if that is done and there is no photo op then something positive can come of this.

  9. E Knauf says:

    Your Eminence, with all due respect, this is not about “eating with sinners.” It’s about giving platform to those who publicly defy the Church – in effect, giving sanction and (real or) perceived support to them. You are correct – we are all sinners. We are NOT all public sinners who are publicly defying the Church in life-and-death matters such as abortion, so-called “same sex” marriage, and religious freedom. If it is your intention to send very mixed signals to the Faithful about the seriousness of these matters, you are certainly succeeding.

    The United States Conference is quite firm in its counsel in matters such as this one: those who defy the Church ought not be given honors or platform.

    Why is the Al Smith Dinner exempted from that counsel? As USCCB Chair, please clarify the guidance so that we can understand who can and cannot be given platform.

    Who could possibly be more in defiance of the Church than Barack Obama?

    I am praying for you, Your Eminence. And I am praying that you are humble enough to recognize when you’ve made a serious mistake.

  10. Brad Cooper says:

    Your Eminence,

    I love you and respect you dearly and truly appreciate your response on this difficult concern with the Al Smith Dinner and Barak Obama. Please rebuke the invitation. Jesus did eat with sinners but this is different. Jesus would not eat with an anti-christ and that is why Jesus asked Judas to leave the table, he was opposed to Christ’s mission and teachings, this is Barak Obama. He opposes the teachings of Mother Church and that is the definition of an anti-christ. To refer him on the same level as you and I is hurtful because I am a sinner but I also love Mother Church and all she teaches. Peace be with you always.

  11. Tommy R says:

    Fifteen years ago I dropped out of active prolife work for about 10 years. It was for variety of reasons, but first among them was a kind of burn out. I got tired of putting myself out there making all kinds sacrifices when people I love and care about (family members who call themselves pro-life) didn’t seem to care at all. They would vote pro-choice then look at me cross-eyed if I simply asked them why. I lost hope.

    If Obama walks away from the Al Smith dinner with a political score…I think I am just going to have a good cry…not for myself…but for the actual victims of Obamas free abortion program.

    No matter what may happen, I can’t see how this dinner thing can turn out to be anything other than a disaster for pro-lifers. How big a disaster remains to be seen. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the Shepard knows what he is doing. It’s already a scandal.

    Cardinal Dolan, I know it is tough to be the Cardinal Archbishop of NY, sometimes one makes the right call sometimes not. I hope you have great success showing the world how civil Catholics are these days. It’s an important endeavor. Perhaps you will have better luck than I had with my siblings. I fear not.

  12. Freda Muldoon says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan, Please see the following thoughtful comments about your explanation at:

    From ALL: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/cassidy/120816

    From the Personalist project: http://www.thepersonalistproject.org/comments/cardinal_dolan_disappoints

  13. Fr. Brendan P. Buckley says:

    Perhaps it is time to terminate this Al Smith affair altogether and find others means to support the charities. The Al Smith dinner is from a time when differences in the political process were of degree. This is no longer the case. It is a good moment to recognize that a major shift has taken place and the Church needs to respond to that shift w/o sacrificing it’s vision and values.

    Sincerely,

    Fr. Brendan P. Buckley, OFM Cap.

  14. jesme says:

    I’m a Protestant, myself. But I wanted to say, God bless you for your courageous stand for Christian truth. And for the kindly and winsome manner in which you take this stand. I absolutely agree with your decision. If we can’t at least be civil to those with whom we disagree, things will never get better. We may be opponents, but we mustn’t become enemies. So glad you think the same.

  15. wendy wilson says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan;
    Thank you for the wonderful and holy way you have explained to us what some of us need to be reminded of…Love. That it doesn’t stop at the door of the Church.
    God Bless you and all the Bishops. You are always in my prayers. wendy

  16. Sue Joan says:

    Dearest Cardinal Dolan, Of course your reasoning makes a lot of sense! I knew you were acting in the Spirit in your actions. I, in trying to help, have shared your article above with folks on my lists. Again, thank you for courageous standing up for Our Blessed Lord and what He taught. Many of us in your flock are very heartened by your courage and love! You inspire us sheep to continue to stand strong!

    In His love,
    Sue J

  17. Mary Anne says:

    +JMJ+
    With all due respect Cardinal Dolan, you cannot put a happy face on this !
    It is time for the Shepherds of Holy Mother Church to be holding more Holy Hours,
    more Holy Masses, more rosaries, more sacrifices and penance, more fasting. Calling
    on the faithful to be doing more of the same. The HHS Mandate is not going away. Obama is not a friend of the Catholic Church and neither are the so called Catholics in his administration. The average Catholic in the pew will certainly get the wrong message after this ‘dinner’ and see it as your approval of this administration. Make no doubt about that.

    I wonder what Bishop Sheen would have had to say about all of this, as he spoke so openly against Communism. He warned us then, and I am sure he would be warning us again.

    I am praying for all our bishops as the Lord gave stern warnings to the Shepherds in Ezechiel 34.

    Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for our Bishops, and for all your faithful, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

  18. Your Eminence,

    You might remember me. I emailed you once when you were still in Wisconsin about my coming into the Church after being a CEC priest.

    During my past ministry I longed to see the unity of the faith and all that it brings to us as citizens of heaven and of our beloved country. When the Lord helped me to see where that unity is and always has been I knew I must take that journey into the Church that is and will always be.

    I have considered myself a bridge builder when it comes to engaging others. Your action in this matter of inviting President Obama and the Republican candidate, Governor Romney is bridge building in the wisest sense. Thank you for taking the high road and inviting those whose eyes and hearts may be opened by what we do for those who are frailest and weakest among us.

    The honey of our faith is powerful and is more useful in our efforts to see a new springtime of faith.

    God love you and bless you and may the goodness to which we all aspire bear much fruit.

    Yours truly,

    Dennis

  19. J. R. Lewis says:

    Thank you! This is absolutely the right message!

    Gratefully,

    A young adult lay ecclesial minister!

  20. Peter says:

    Thank you for that heart felt humbling response your Eminence.
    I will keep you in my prayers in this very difficult ballancing act that you are being called to do.

  21. Sharlene says:

    May God bless you, Cardinal Dolan, as you uphold the most precious of Christian values: Love thine enemy. You are in our prayers for courage and discernment as you lead the Church and our country in faith. Remembering Jesus’ words of love for all God’s children, especially those trapped in sinful philosophies, may the Spirit lead you in all you do.

    God’s peace,

    Sharlene

  22. Dave Bjerklie says:

    Thank you Cardinal Dolan for the courage to live your Chriistian values of compassion and love in the face of the deep hatred towards Obama. The president is a human being like the res of us.

  23. Ana V Trudeau says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    Thank you for responding to the controversy.

    The Catholics who are offended at the invitation that has been extended to the President, in articulating their reasons, do not question your orthodoxy or commitment to defending the Church’s teachings in public contexts, or resolution to work toward preserving religious freedom in America.

    The focus is on those among the faithful who are uninformed and easily misled, as well non-Catholics and Americans in general, and what implications your decision will have on their choices at the voting booth, as well as their perception, in the future, of tensions between the Church and the government: will it be due concern or something less?

    We are living in critical times, history likes to repeat itself. We cannot afford to give off a greviously wrong impression. The brute reality is that it is in-itself an honor for the President to have received an invitation to attend the Al Smith Dinner. No award necessary.

    Political correctness has infiltrated the Catholic Church in America. The few pastors among parishes who are courageous and willing to deliver in their homilies, an exhortion against voting for a candidate that supports intrinisic evils, are now witnessing, as are the souls entrusted to their care, the very man who is object of those warnings and exhortations, being privileged, by an act of the Archdiocese of New York, to attend a famous Catholic fundraising dinner, where it is all clapping, smiles, and laughter, happily alongside the Cardinal who is leading the charge against him for gross and historic injustice.

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of goodwill.
    Ana

  24. Julio Gonzalez, M.D. says:

    Your Eminence,

    It is with the greatest sense of humility that I undertake the most painful task of voicing my staunch opposition to your invitation to President Obama to speak at the Al Smith Dinner in October. The invitation, although cloaked with friendship and a cooperative spirit, is nevertheless mired by the allowing the President to falsely appear as a defender of religious acceptance and tolerance, something he has recurrently demonstrated not to be.

    Firstly, I understand the Al Smith Dinner has traditionally represented an opportunity for the nation to view, in your words, “both our country and our Church at their best,” but this has generally not occurred in a milieu riddled by affirmative attacks from the statesman against the convictions the followers of the Church’s teachings hold so dear.

    I also commend and support the event as a venue for people of faith to gather “in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism…[aimed at helping]…those in need,” but such a lofty endeavor can only be undertaken if all those who are seated at the table share that conviction. Here, clearly, our President does not.

    Bishop Nolan, as you well know, our Holy Catholic Church has been the brunt of the most brazen Presidential attack on its legitimacy in over a century while thoughtlessly undermining the First Amendment rights and liberties of our fellow citizens to a level not seen since the decisions of the Warren Court. Few know better than you, Your Eminence, of the detrimental effects the President’s egregious actions will have on the rights of every person of worship in this country. Such enlightenment cannot then allow one to provide that same political foe a stage on equal footing with the one person who stands the greatest chance to counter this assault.

    Make no mistake, President Obama will not be attending this ceremony with the aim of promoting the air of civility you seek. Rather, he will attend for two reasons only. First to counteract the detrimental effects an unanswered appearance by Governor Romney will have to his campaign, and second, to benefit from the opportunity to be viewed as the benevolent statesman that had the courage to forgive those uncompromising and politically inept Catholics and work with them for the greater, humanitarian, and non-sectarian purpose of helping others and promoting social justice.

    Your Eminence, I understand that you are “encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners.” However, at the Al Smith Dinner, you will not be dining with a sinner, but rather with one who time and again has demonstrated his desire to restrict your abilities to serve Jesus in the manner in which you were called.

    Consequently, I most humbly and respectfully ask you, Bishop Nolan, to rescind the invitation to President Obama and deny him the opportunity to capitalize from the resoundingly supportive and favorably biased attention his visit will attract. If you feel uncomfortable with the prospect of having only one Presidential candidate on the floor that night, then our Church and our parishioners will be better served if you invited neither. Even this would deliver the message to the President of the resounding disapproval those with religious convictions and followers of our Most Blessed Catholic Church harbor to the confrontational and destructive positions he has taken towards our freedom to worship.

    Most respectfully and reverentially,

    Julio Gonzalez, M.D.
    Venice, Florida

  25. T. D. Warlow says:

    Even before I read Cardinal Dolan’s last commentary, I stated to others that nothing was ever accomplished by closing a door. If we are to strive to be Christ-like, then we must be able to love all as God’s children while we admonish their sins. I will continue to pray every day for our President that he and his family have a safe flight back to Chicago in January. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on him, a sinner.

  26. Sean says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    I respect and appreciate your quest for dialogue. And I am beyond disheartened– rather, I am ashamed– at many of the extreme views expressed in this comments section.

    Religion is indeed a guiding force in civic life, but respect for all viewpoints and love of thy neighbor is a guiding force in Catholicism, and all of Christianity. That so many fellow Catholics would be so quick to champion the former without embracing the latter strikes me as hollow in some capacity.

    Additionally, reducing the role of POTUS to just a small handful of core issues reduces the full weight of our moral duty as both Catholics and U.S. citizens. While I may disagree with the President on several issues, it cannot be denied that there are just as many, if not more, troubling stances taken by Governor Romney.

    Our world is a complex one. And any discussion that attempts to simplify that complexity does a disservice to both faith and intellect.

    I fully support your decision to invite both candidates.

    Peace be with you,
    Sean

  27. Sean C. says:

    I think that Cardinal Dolan is correct in his stance on this. And should President Obama attempt to use his speech at the Al Smith Dinner to promote causes abhorrent to believers (which would a break with tradition), it will rebound on him quite horribly.

  28. William Meyer says:

    Your Eminence, I do appreciate your position, but cannot support it. In the wake of the dinner, you will find the media making much of the Church’s “support” of Obama, simply because he was there. You will find the Obama campaign making hay with photos from the event. You will protest that no approval was implied, and you will be ignored by the media. The damage will have been done.

    I shall pray for us all.

  29. G Murray says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    Your last paragraph was the first thought that came to mind when I heard of the invitation. The president is a lost soul, in need of forgiveness and repentance. May God bless you and may the Holy Spirit use you to have a profound effect upon this man.

  30. Mary Holm says:

    Your Excellency,

    Your gesture to both candidates is refreshing and I am delighted.

    Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of us all.

    I pray it is a most fruitful endeavor!

    Mary Holm

  31. Camille Kazmierczak says:

    I totally agree with Julie Ann Courville comments……..and Anthony Swanson comments……

  32. Carol Brinkley says:

    I respectfully disagree with your explanation as to why you invited President Obama to the dinner. After all is said and done, ‘The Social Hour’ was more important then protecting religious rights. Dear Cardinal, if you do not consider President Obama an enemy the Church, then why are you sueing him? Hope it was a good party.

  33. Teri says:

    I have trust in you whom I know has prayerfully come to this conclusion. Prayers will be answered, one way or another. Your loving and gentle spirit is a very wonderful example for us and I thank you.
    At the same time, if it is ok, I am going to pray that Jesus is sitting next to you:)

  34. Jane says:

    Thank you Cardinal Dolan for your courage in living out the teachings of Jesus Christ and reminding us that our duty as Christians is to foster peace and not polarise those with whom we disagree. It’s a tough call so may the Holy Spirit always guide your decisions according to His will.

    As for sending ‘mixed signals that may confuse the flock’, if they can be swayed by this dinner while ignoring the big picture of the HHS mandate debacle, then surely their votes were flimsy at best. At the end of the day, our Bishops have to follow the will of the Father and not the will of the people, and we are behind you 100%.. We will be praying for you.

  35. Theresa says:

    I feel so disappointed in the Archbishop. I feel like he lead us out to pasture and then let the wolf in. I think that inviting Obama will make Catholics think that voting him back into office is fine. I am VERY disappointed. I had a feeling he would make reference to Jesus eating with sinners as a justification for this public act but I challenge him to look instead at Matthew 10:14.

  36. Martha says:

    Your Eminence,

    Thank you for your beautiful blog, and I will be praying for you.
    I think many people misunderstand the fact that both candidates will be there. I cannot say i was not shocked when I heard that President Obama was invited, but I believe that your intentions are good, our Holy Father Trusts you, therefore I trust you.
    Let God’s will be done now, and in November.

    God Bless you Cardinal!
    please pray for me :)

    “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” Matthew 6:34

  37. Clara Schoppe says:

    I am one of those who were scandalized by the invitation, and who wrote you about that.
    Thank you for your kind explanation in your blog.
    I am now ashamed that my faith was so weak that I would see your invitation as a betrayal. I am just like the ones who turned their backs on Jesus when He didn’t meet their expectations, when He wanted so much more for them than they wanted for themselves. This controversy, and my own reaction to it has taught me how little Faith I really have and how much I need to stay close to my pastor and my bishop and not try to go ahead of them. I thank God that I, at least, have little Faith, rather than no Faith.

  38. You did well Cardinal, you need apologize for nothing.

  39. Walt Mateja, Ph.D. says:

    Your Eminence, I am one of those who are deeply concerned on this issue. I understand your position, but respectfully have a suggestion which might serve to help those of us who are negatively impacted by this.
    Consider issuing strong press release stating in no uncertain terms that the invitation does NOT indicate support of eithr candidate and that the Church strongly disagrees with the President’s position on contraception and ESPECIALLY Abortion.
    Stress that the invitation is merely extended as a means of raising funds and the Church is grateful to both candidates for their support of our overall efforts.

  40. Therese says:

    Great response. I totally “get it” and understand. Thanks for all you are doing for the Church. You are in my prayers.

  41. JoAnne says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,
    I am from St. Louis, close to your own neighborhood! We have been asked to pray and offer sacrifice for the continuation of our religious freedom. We pray EVERY morning after Mass for this very thing! St. Louis has been very active with Fortnight and other initiatives, trying to beseech heaven itself to help us maintain our religious freedom and protect the unborn. We have been asked to continue our efforts up to the election and continuing if President Obama gets reelected. Your dinner engagement with the President seems like cold water in the face to us and all of these efforts! When I imagine you dining and laughing with the individual we are trying so hard to counteract, I feel, at least, confused and surprised by your actions! What are we Catholics in the trenches doing all this for? You seem to be very willing to gamble the negative social and spiritual ramifications, which is already taking place, for one night of “merriment”! Everyone makes mistakes in prudence sometimes, only Christ was perfect, and it is a beautiful sign of humility to admit when we were wrong! I think many will wonder, as I do, how you would not act as Jesus did, and challenge sinners, not cajole and back slap with them! Jesus spoke and acted always to touch the hearts of the sinners, to draw them closer through tough love, not idle (roasting) laughter.

    We are trying to work and pray that President Obama will remove the mandate and our religious freedom will be respected. We are trying to defeat a mandate which has the monumental possibility of destroying more human life than we care to imagine! Definitely meet with Obama! Don’t avoid the man. Challenge him as Christ would and explain to him face to face our beliefs! With the zeal I have seen from you on other occasions, and with the tough love of Jesus Christ, demonstrate love AND firmness in our Catholic beliefs! Challenge him to watch ONE real abortion and he may not need any further convincing from you that human life is sacred! Please rescind the invitation to the dinner, but to sit there and pretend for even ONE evening that nothing is wrong with his position is NOT what Jesus would do.

    I am an active member of my Catholic church and I love my faith. I have raised a large family and members have explored vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I take my faith very seriously and I hope I will always rise to defend her! What would I say to my children if I met President Obama under the guise of a casual “party” or a “roast”? Only as Christ, to hopefully awaken his conscience could I meet with him, and it would NOT be a party! My own children would understand this, why can’t you?

  42. Diane says:

    As a practicing Catholic I find the invitation of Obama to the Al Smith dinner an affront to every Catholic who is opposed to this presidents stance on issues of great concern to Cathoics. Although not an award it does give a false impression to many Catholics who otherwise see it as support for Obama and his anti-Catholic policies. I am one of them.

  43. Diane says:

    As a practicing Catholic I find the invitation of Obama to the Al Smith dinner an affront to every Catholic who is opposed to this presidents stance on issues of great concern to Catholics. Although not an award it does give a false impression to many Catholics who otherwise see it as support for Obama and his anti-Catholic policies. I am one of them.