Monday, September 22, 2014

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Dolan's DNC prayer mentions life, marriage, social justice

090612-cardinal-dolan-speechDNC, RNC convention prayers have key similarities, differences

CHARLOTTE — Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave the benediction at the end of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Thursday night.

A week earlier, Cardinal Dolan also gave the closing prayer at the close of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and he had offered to do the same for the Democrats to avoid any appearance of partisanship.

 

The prayers he gave were different in both length and structure, but they contained some common themes.

His prayer to the RNC ran 544 words. His prayer to the DNC was longer, at exactly 700 words. But both sets of remarks opened basically the same way:

"With a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love," he began in Charlotte. "Let us pray."

At the RNC, Cardinal Dolan then prayed, "Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus, we beg Your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home."

At the DNC, he began, "Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in Your Son Jesus Christ, we thank You for showering Your blessings on this our beloved nation."

In his RNC prayer, the cardinal almost immediately touched on the primary issue that ties the Republican Party to the Catholic Church: protection of the right to life.

"We ask Your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see You at the end of this life," he prayed.

He did not shy away from those issues in his prayer to the DNC, which earlier this week adopted a party platform that included stronger wording in support of abortion. Very similar pro-life language was in his prayer to the Democrats, but he built up to it gradually:

"Bless all here present and all across this great land who work hard for the day when a greater portion of Your justice and a more ample measure of Your care for the poor and suffering may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society's greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and the neediest among us.

"We beseech You, Almighty God, to shed Your grace on this noble experiment in the ordered liberty which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed on us by You: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus do we praise You for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it – life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask Your benediction on those who are waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected."

The next segment of Cardinal Dolan's DNC prayer asked for protection of those in the closing stages of life:

"Strengthen our sick and our elders, waiting to see Your holy face at life's end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile," he prayed.

He also thanked God for those willing to defend the nation, and he asked protection for those in harm's way, as well as commending those who have died in protecting America to God's "eternal care."

Cardinal Dolan also included language in his DNC prayer that might be considered a challenge to the Democratic Party's support for same-sex "marriage" in its 2012 party platform. Catholics believe that marriage was created by God, defined in natural law, as the union between one man and one woman.

"Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature's God," he prayed. "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 have given us for the nurturing of life and community."

His language to the RNC on that issue was different, and it included a reference to the Ten Commandments:

"Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living You first inscribed in our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone," he prayed. "May You mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self-control, our liberty in law."

He asked a blessing of wisdom for all public officials, and included in both prayers to the Democratic incumbents and the Republican challengers – using virtually identical language in both.

While both prayers contained requests for the political leadership to help the sick, the poor and the afflicted, Cardinal Dolan's prayer to the RNC referenced specific recent calamities:

"We lift up to Your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms and drought and fire," he prayed.

Echoing the call by the U.S. bishops and other social justice advocates for immigration reform, Cardinal Dolan prayed "for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank You for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which You so richly blessed this nation," he said to Republicans.

To Democrats, he prayed, "May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries."

Lastly, Cardinal Dolan's conclusion for the DNC benediction was almost twice as long as his closing for the RNC:

"And finally Lord, we beseech Your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening and all those in every land who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg You to remember as we pledge to remember those who are not free, those who suffer for freedom's cause, those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick or alone, those who are persecuted for their religious convictions and those still ravaged by war.

"And most of all, God Almighty, we thank You for the great gift of our country, for we are indeed one nation under God, and in God we trust – so, dear God, bless America, You who reign forever and ever. Amen," he prayed.

At the RNC, Cardinal Dolan prayed, "We beseech Your blessing on all who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who seek to conduct their lives in freedom. Most of all, Almighty God, we thank You for the great gift of our beloved country. For we are indeed 'one nation under God.' And 'in God we trust.' Dear God, bless America, You who live and reign, forever and ever. Amen."

DNC Prayer

A draft text of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's speech was posted online, but it varied slightly upon delivery. His draft can be found online here.

Below is a transcription of what Cardinal Dolan said:

With a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love.

Let us pray. (Sign of the Cross)

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in Your Son Jesus Christ, we thank You for showering Your blessings on this our beloved nation.

Bless all here present and all across this great land who work hard for the day when a greater portion of Your justice and a more ample measure of Your care for the poor and suffering may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society's greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and the neediest among us.

We beseech You, Almighty God, to shed Your grace on this noble experiment in the ordered liberty which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed on us by You: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus do we praise You for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it – life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask Your benediction on those who are waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.

Strengthen our sick and our elders, waiting to see Your holy face at life's end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank You for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms.

Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty – the first, most cherished freedom, bequeathed upon us at our founding.

May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope and love. Make us ever grateful who for over two centuries have given their lives in freedom's defense. We commend their noble souls to Your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of Your mighty arm on our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank You for granting us the life and liberty by which we can pursue happiness. 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 have given us for the nurturing of life and community.

May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.

We praise and thank You for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. O God of wisdom, justice and might, we ask Your guidance for those who govern us, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress and the Supreme Court and all those, including Gov. Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve You by serving our country, and help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.

With Your grace may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.

And finally, Lord, we beseech Your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening and all those in every land who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg You to remember as we pledge to remember those who are not free, those who suffer for freedom's cause, those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick or alone, those who are persecuted for their religious convictions and those still ravaged by war. And most of all, God Almighty, we thank You for the great gift of our country, for we are indeed one nation under God, and in God we trust. So, dear God, bless America, You who reign forever and ever. Amen.

— Stephen Guilfoyle, correspondent

 Read more and view Cardinal Timothy Dolan's prayer to the RNC here