| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 28 Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy
Dolan will deliver the closing prayer at the Democratic National
Convention as well as this week's Republican meeting, in a sign
of bipartisanship after Dolan had taken a role opposing the
White House on policy matters.
Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, last week accepted an invitation
to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National
Convention on Thursday in Tampa, Florida.
His office announced on Tuesday he would do the same for the
Democrats in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sept. 6.
Political analysts see many Catholics as "swing voters" who
can be swayed to vote for either party, making Dolan welcome at
"It was made clear to the Democratic convention organizers,
as it was to the Republicans, that the cardinal was coming
solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party,
platform or candidate," Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New
York archdiocese, said in a statement.
Dolan has become an increasingly influential political
figure in the United States and a champion for conservatives,
especially since he challenged President Barack Obama in
February over a federal health insurance provision that required
Catholic institutions such as universities and hospitals to
cover birth control.
On Monday Dolan said he wanted Obama and Mitt Romney, who
will get the Republican presidential nomination at the party's
convention, to sign a "civility pledge" to ensure they would not
make personal attacks during the campaign and instead
concentrate on substantive issues.
In February U.S. bishops, led by Dolan, had pressed Obama to
exempt religious employers from a federal mandate that all
health insurance plans offer free birth control.
Obama agreed to modify the mandate so religious employers
would not have to pay for contraceptive coverage directly. That
satisfied some Catholic groups but the bishops wanted the
mandate repealed entirely.
Energized by the battle, Catholic bishops announced their
intention to rally Americans against a long list of government
measures they said intruded on religious liberty.
After a conference meeting a year ago, Dolan declared
religious freedom "is now increasingly and in unprecedented ways
under assault in America."