Let me share with you my remarks from yesterday evening’s 67th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.
It traditionally falls to the host of this enjoyable evening, the Archbishop of New York, to “call it a night.”
Thank you, everybody, for your gracious company this evening.
What a unique honor and joy to welcome and thank our two candidates, and Mrs. Romney.
Our two candidates claim that both your parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, are “big tents,” containing extraordinarily diverse, even contrary, opposite people and groups. Well, you don’t have a thing over the Catholic Church. We got both Biden and Ryan!
Governor Romney, thank you for being up here sitting next to me; although I must confess I was secretly hoping the Republican candidate would be Governor Christie, because I sure would have looked good sitting next to him!
Mr. President I trust you’ll be able to report to Mrs. Obama that I ate my vegetables and salad. If she had been “first lady” instead of Mamie Eisenhower when I was growing up in the 50’s, I wouldn’t be in this shape!
As you may know, I just returned from Rome a couple of hours ago, where I’m participating in the Synod of Bishops. Thanks to Mr. Mort Zuckerman’s jet, I will be able to return to Rome right after the dinner.
By the way, just before I left this morning, Pope Benedict XVI asked me to deliver a special personal message to both candidates. Mr. President, Governor Romney, do you know what the Holy Father asked me to tell you? . . . neither do I, because he said it in Latin.
Both candidates expressed shock that Mayor Bloomberg had a 16 ounce cup in front of him. Not to worry, Your Honor — I explained to them that it was not a sugar-laden soft drink, but a martini.
The mayor might want to challenge that remark, but, I’m sorry Mr. Mayor, Candy Crowley has already said she agrees with me.
Only the Al Smith dinner could bring together two men, of the same calling, who disagree on almost everything, both of whom think they are the world’s experts on everything, who don’t like even being in the same room together: Roger Ailes and Chris Matthews.
The Al Smith Dinner . . . in thanking all of you for your presence and support, might I suggest that this annual dinner actually shows America and the Church at their best?
Here we are: in an atmosphere of civility and humor, hosted by a Church which claims that “joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence;” men and women; young and old; of every ethnic and racial background;
Democrats, Republicans, and Independents;
Catholics, Christians, Jews, Latter-Day Saints, people of no particular creed;
people of wealth, yes, but some folks as well who barely get by;
guests from Westchester and the Bronx; Dutchess County and Staten Island;
Grateful to be people of faith and loyal Americans;
Loving a country which considers religious liberty our first and most cherished freedom, convinced that faith is not just limited to an hour of Sabbath worship, but affects everything we do and dream;
privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children, and who, as happy as I hope they are to be here with us tonight, would rather be home with Michelle, Ann, and their families.
All of us reverently recalling a man of deep Catholic faith and ringing patriotism, who had a tear in his Irish eyes for what we would call, the “uns;”
— the un-employed
— the un-insured
— the un-wanted
— the un-wed mother, and her innocent, fragile un-born baby in her womb;
— the un-documented
— the un-housed
— the un-healthy
— the un-fed
— the under-educated.
Government, Al Smith believed, should be on the side of these “uns,” but a government partnering with family, Church, parish, neighborhood, organizations and community, never intruding or opposing, since, when all is said and done, it’s in God we trust, not, ultimately, in government or politics.
Al Smith . . . the “happy warrior” on behalf of the “uns” who were so close to Jesus, or to the Native American Kateri Tekakwitha, and the “Angel to the Lepers of Hawaii,” Sister Mary Anne Cope, both women of New York whom this Sunday Pope Benedict will declare saints; so tenderly close to Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta who reminded us of the “five- finger gospel” — “As often as you do it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you do it for me!”
God bless the memory of Al Smith!
God Bless the “uns!”
God bless the Al Smith Foundation in this Archdiocese of New York which continues his solicitude for the “uns!”
God bless all of you for helping them this evening!
God bless our two candidates!
God bless America!
Thank God for this grand evening!