Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will deliver the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week.
Dolan, who has become embroiled in controversy over his handling of sex abuse in the church, will lead a final prayer after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney officially accepts his party’s nomination. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, has insisted that Dolan’s participation in the Republican Convention was not an endorsement and Dolan “would be willing to accept a similar offer from the Democratic Party as well.”
The USCCB has been highly critical of the birth control mandates in the new health care law, claiming they violate Catholic organization’s religious freedom. The USCCB is current suing the Obama administration over the mandate. The organization has also been highly critical of Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), saying that his proposed budget plan was “unjustified and wrong” because it would harm struggling families and people living in poverty.
But despite the USCCB’s criticism of Ryan’s budget, Dolan has said he admires the Wisconsin congressman “immensely” and “would consider him a friend.”
Dolan has received criticism this year for his handling of sex abuse cases. Earlier this year, it was revealed that he authorized paying accused priests to leave the church while he served as the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Dolan has also fought against proposals to ease the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases, giving victims a chance to file lawsuits against the church despite how long ago the alleged crime occurred.
Nearly 700 people filed suits against Catholic clergy alleging sexual abuse in the United States last year, according to an audit released this year. Most of those incidents occurred between 1960 and 1984.
“The Church must do all she can never to let abuse happen again,” Dolan said in April. “And we must all continue to work with full resolve toward the healing and reconciliation of the victims/survivors.”
[Ed. note: Cardinal Dolan has no relation to the author of this piece.]