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Catholics dine with the enemy

According to spokesman Joseph Zwilling of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New York, the annual Alfred E. Smith charity dinner is: “an evening to put politics aside and come together in a spirit of civility.”

If that is really an occasion to put politics aside, why is it that in every presidential election year so many politicians have been invited – along with so many who have, notably, NOT been invited?

Traditionally, both major party nominees are invited – as both President Obama and Gov. Romney have this year.

But the Washington Times reports that an online petition is urging Cardinal Dolan to withdraw his invitation to the president:

“‘If Cardinal John O’Connor didn’t invite pro-abort Bill Clinton in 1996, and if Cardinal Egan didn’t invite pro-abort John Kerry in 2004, then on what grounds could your Eminence find to invite Obama in 2012?’ the petition asks Cardinal Dolan. The opponents, who refer to the president’s invitation as ‘scandal,’ said Mr. Obama ‘has proven handily and has worked arduously since 2009 to act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.’

“As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,200 people had signed the petition at www.alsmithscandal.com.

“The New York archdiocese surprised some people with its invitation of the president, whose relationship with the Catholic Church has been strained, particularly by the administration’s mandate of contraception coverage this year in the new federal health-care law and the president’s support for same-sex marriage.

“Bishops have called the health-care mandate a threat to the church’s mission and to religious freedom.

“Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has received an invitation to this year’s dinner, which will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in October. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney reportedly have accepted the invitations, meaning it would be one of the rare occasions other than the presidential debates in which they appear on the same stage.

“The annual white-tie affair draws a wealthy audience and is a big fundraiser for Catholic charities.”

But the petition to Cardinal Dolan notes that President Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole were not invited in 1996 – and neither were Sen. Robert Kerry and George W. Bush in 2004.

Why, if these four were barred, is President Obama being invited?

The Times reported: “The Rev. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, a group based in New York, said it’s not appropriate for Mr. Obama to attend the dinner this year.

“‘I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the president’s policies vs. respecting his office,’ he said in a statement. ‘But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.’

“Cardinal Dolan has been critical of the Obama administration, saying the health-care mandate is ‘strangling’ the church’s mission. More than 40 religious organizations, including the New York archdiocese, are suing the administration in federal court to block the mandate.”

Think about that lawsuit.

And just imagine the effect when this legal action by the New York archdiocese reaches court.

What if one of the attorneys defending the administration mentions the irony of the same archdiocese of New York, which is suing the Obama administration, is also hosting the same Obama at a renowned annual dinner?