Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

And Rick Warren won't be hosting the Al Smith dinner, either

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Aug 27, 2012

Do you remember the presidential debate that Rick Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church in California, hosted in 2008? The famous Evangelical leader had planned a similar event this year. But now he has withdrawn his invitations to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Warren explains that “it would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only to have the name-calling return the next day."

(There may be another factor: President Obama reportedly refused to participate in the megachurch-sponsored campaign forum.)

One can’t help noticing the contrast between the views expressed by Rick Warren and those offered by Cardinal Timothy Dolan to explain why he will not rescind an invitation for President Obama. The Evangelical pastor decries the sham civility of an evening’s debate; the cardinal touts the Al Smith dinner as “an acclaimed example of such civility in political life.”

It’s no secret that I was dismayed by Cardinal Dolan’s decision to give President Obama a valuable “photo op” in the midst of a contentious campaign. But if the cardinal’s judgment is questionable, Rick Warren’s statement is astounding. Is it a bad thing to plan an evening of civil debate in the midst of an otherwise nasty campaign? Would he prefer several weeks of uninterrupted mud-slinging?

Cardinal Dolan seems to think that a night of light-hearted repartee—a time-out from the heat of the campaign, at least theoretically—could improve the tenor of campaign rhetoric. He may be wrong; I think he is. But give the cardinal credit. He’s trying to light a candle, and I’m afraid Rick Warren is doing the other thing.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our July expenses ($34,059 to go):
$35,000.00 $941.00
97% 3%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: pauper servus et humilis - Sep. 01, 2012 9:13 PM ET USA

    Mmmmm. Picure Cardinal Dolan on one side and Bill Donohue on the other. Perhaps such a sandwich might do a soul some good compared to that of Biden and Pfleger? ... oohh that Mother Angelica could be fully cured and sit facing him... Ago tibi gratias pro universis beneficiis tuis, etiam ignotis... Yes, even the unknown ones...

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 30, 2012 3:19 PM ET USA

    Keep in mind, that whatever gets accomplished by Cardinal Dolan will be, in fact, the work of God.

  • Posted by: Defender - Aug. 28, 2012 12:35 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Dolan can't even keep his own house in order, why should anyone believe that he can do better on the national stage?

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 27, 2012 5:42 PM ET USA

    The question of the floor is not whether civility is "the order of the day" (we are still civilized thank God) but how far does ANY man have to go before, as they say, one "breaks fellowship...," put Scripturally, when one shuns or excommunicates a man? Can a politician, whether he claims to be protestant or Catholic, simply contradict and betray promises one after another indefinitely and still be honored with any kind of platform, or even fellowship with other serious Christians?

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30
In the Aftermath of Obergefell June 30
The political outlook after Obergefell June 29
Good news/bad news on the Vatican PR overhaul June 29

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15
Cardinal Kasper: Pope never approved my proposal CWN - June 4