New York’s influential Cardinal Timothy Dolan is facing criticism for socializing with Barack Obama at a time when the Catholic Church is being persecuted by – and bringing lawsuits against – the president’s administration.

Amid some 50 Catholic lawsuits and 50 other religious lawsuits against Obama and his signature health-care legislation, this past week Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed Obama and his challenger, former Gov. Mitt Romney, to the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner. It’s a longtime charitable event where presidential candidates humorously campaign while speaking in honor of the first Catholic presidential candidate.

This year, many Catholics criticized Cardinal Dolan for inviting Obama because they claim it sends a mixed message, especially while the Archdiocese of New York is simultaneously suing the Obama administration. Critics believe that voters who don’t research Obama’s aggressive abortion record coupled with his attacks on the Catholic Church and other pro-life institutions will interpret Dolan’s hospitality as approval for Obama.

Their fears were partly realized at the dinner when Dolan praised both Obama and Romney as men of honor and faith: “I’m privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children, and who, as happy as I hope they are to be here with us tonight, would rather be home with Michelle, Ann, and their families.”

Dolan also celebrated the “two Catholic” vice presidential candidates as if the Democratic incumbent Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican opponent, Rep. Paul Ryan, are both faithful to God, church and country, but as WND reported, only Ryan qualifies.

Prior to the dinner, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said, “I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the president’s policies versus respecting his office. But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal. There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a church.”

Priests for Life is suing the Obama administration too.

At the dinner, Romney complemented his respect for Catholics with zingers at Obama.

For example, he said, “Your kind hospitality tonight gives me a chance to convey my deep and long-held respect for the Catholic Church. I have special admiration for the apostle St. Peter, to whom it is said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church.’ The story’s all the more inspiring when you consider that he had so many skeptics and scoffers at the time who were heard to say, ‘If you’ve got a church, you didn’t build that.'”

Obama made fun of his own underwhelming performance in the first presidential debate, targeting one of several publicly anti-Catholic Catholics at the dinner for his punch line: “I particularly want to apologize to [TV host] Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg. This time around, I gave him a stroke.”

Video of the speeches can still be seen on C-SPAN’s website.

Too little too late?

Cardinal Dolan and his fellow Catholic bishops have tremendous power to teach and motivate 77.7 million Catholics, some 25 percent of the U.S. population.

Since Dolan was elected president of the USCCB, secular media have dubbed him “the American pope.” The USCCB is the “official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the USA [and a] canonical entity governing the church, and a public policy arm.”

There is, however, only one Vicar of Christ, and the USCCB has no jurisdiction over the faithful. Official doctrine is available to the world in the Catholic Catechism, and when the USCCB makes statements contrary to Catholic teaching, it neither speaks for the Church nor all bishops.

Against the Church’s rightful condemnation of Marxism, for example, the USCCB lobbied Congress for “universal” government health care, and we got Obamacare.

As explained in my previous article, “America’s salvation depends on Catholics,” Obama has ordered the Catholic Church, other organizations and individual citizens to pay for health insurance policies that cover abortions. Singles and families who can’t afford health insurance will be taxed per person and left without health care. That’s Obama’s plan for helping the poor – tax them. Obamacare empowers the government to deny health care to anyone, especially disabled persons and the elderly. It takes $716 billion from Medicare, and those without Part B supplemental insurance will pay new fines starting in 2013.

Companies who refuse to pay for abortion insurance – even religious institutions – will be fined $100 per day per employee. It also established Obama’s “Ready Reserve Corps,” an unconstitutional “emergency” military/police force to manage health-care “access” domestically and internationally at the cost of $5 million per year from 2010 to 2014.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli alerts Catholic students

In April, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, also a 2013 candidate for governor, spoke to students at Christendom College about the need for faithful Catholics to be active beyond voting.

Cuccinelli is the Catholic who filed the first lawsuit against Obamacare, and he explained, “Every single thing the government does to expand its power comes directly at the expense of your liberty. Everything. … Once they have told you what you can do, they have thus told you what you can’t, and your freedom is reduced.”

On Obamacare, he stressed, “There will be more denials of choice in how you live your life and how you die, because your liberty has been taken from you in that piece of legislation. And government does it all over the place. It’s connected everywhere. This is the mistake our bishops have made for 50-plus years. The Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying governments everywhere, including the federal government, to do more and to do more and to do more. And they never understood that there was always a cost – until the cost was higher than they were willing to pay. It’s the first one they ever noticed. … Everything they asked the government to do came at the cost of a little bit more liberty, your liberty, and they’ve been dragging it in.”

To whom should Catholics go?

As the Catholic Church teaches, all human persons will answer to God during their final judgment. In this life, Catholics are subject to the pope in matters of faith and morals (Matthew 16:18-19). And in the United States, bishops have jurisdiction over the Catholics in their dioceses, so it’s their duty to correct Catholics known for obstinately living in a state of mortal sin, especially if they harm society by defying non-negotiable doctrines on the human rights to life, liberty and matrimony as it was established by God.

Corrective measures include the bishops’ duty to ban offenders from Holy Communion, as Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., banned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Since her bishop did his duty, Sebelius is formally banned worldwide from Communion.

The purpose of this ban is to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege; to bring the sinner back to the state of grace; and to prevent the sinner from misleading the public.

Thus, St. Paul said, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

For decades abortion zealots such as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senators John Kerry and Dick Durbin, plus Biden have gone undisciplined by their bishops. As a result, Durbin is one of several “Catholics for Obama” officially listed by the Obama/Biden re-election campaign. Moreover, Biden has advanced Obama’s Marxist agenda in the U.S., Islamist agendas abroad, widespread abortions and “gay marriage.”

In the 2008 election year, Bishop Joseph Martino formally banned Biden from Holy Communion in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa. And prior to the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate where Biden lied about being a “practicing Catholic,” Daniel Cole of The Gazette interviewed Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who announced Biden is banned from Communion in his diocese. These bans are supposed to stand until the sinner confesses and is absolved. If the offender is a public personality, he/she also must publicly repent.

In 2004, Cardinal Raymond Burke, then-archbishop of St. Louis, was one of a few bishops who banned presidential candidate John Kerry from Holy Communion. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura or chief justice of the Vatican supreme court.

Cardinal Burke is the world’s leading authority on canon law, and after some accused him of “politicizing the Eucharist,” he replied, “It is not a question of politicizing the Eucharist. It is a question of showing the right respect for the Eucharist and also safeguarding individuals from committing sacrilege. And so we have to refuse Holy Communion to public officials who persist in supporting legislation contrary to the natural moral law, after they have been duly admonished.”

Burke verified that all Eucharistic ministers – priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers – are required to withhold the Eucharist from Catholics known to be in the state of mortal sin.

He said, “The discipline does not open a way to give Holy Communion to those in public and grave sin by failing to admonish them. The bishop and his priests have the gravest obligation to admonish them. If not, they will answer before God.”

Meanwhile, many lay men and women have arisen to inform and activate Catholics. Among the most prominent is Stand Up for Religious Freedom, which is led by Eric Scheidler and has united priests, lawmakers and lay people in nationwide protests against the perils of Obamacare. WND covered the June 8 Washington lineup with vocal lawmakers. More rallies took place on Oct. 20.

Adriana Gonzalez, a homeschooling mother of seven, and her husband Dr. Manuel Gonzalez, a busy internist in Florida, started a national phenomenon with Catholics Called to Witness.

Mrs. Gonzalez told WND she was concerned because there’s “a disconnect” between Catholics knowing our God-given rights and “what a lot of us are doing in the public arena: the political arena and the voting booth.”

The couple made “Test of Fire,” a video featured by Lou Dobbs on Fox Business Channel, Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends and it runs often on the global Catholic network EWTN. It also earned enthusiastic support from non-Catholic celebrities Glenn Beck, Kirk Cameron and Mike Huckabee.

On Sept. 10, Cameron urged his fans to watch it and wrote, “We who say we love God and our neighbors are called to fight for what is good and true, love and obey God, protect our families and defend the weak and innocent. I’m not Catholic, but my hat is off to whoever produced this powerful video.”

With permission from Catholics Called to Witness, Huckabee narrated a version of this video for non-Catholic Christians, due for release before Election Day.

Mrs. Gonzalez never expected “Test of Fire” to go viral. Nearly 2.2 million people have watched the original Catholic version on YouTube and she explained, “The video idea came as a whim; it wasn’t strategy, we did no marketing.” Now several variations, including a Spanish version, are on YouTube for people to share.

“Test of Fire” can be seen below:

Father John Trigilio, president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and a popular EWTN host, spoke to WND about Biden and CCC’s free Voting Guide App.

On Biden’s debate claim that he won’t “impose” his Catholic beliefs on others, Fr. Trigilio said, “I really take offense at that. It’s disingenuous because if that were the case, then we shouldn’t outlaw racial segregation or slavery. We’re not imposing morality, we’re defending morality. Segregation is immoral, slavery is immoral.

“We’ve got a lot of good faithful Catholics, they know right from wrong, they’ve got a pretty good conscience, but it’s not properly formed all the way,” said Fr. Trigilio, so the goal of the CCC app is to give people the timeless moral principles for voting.

In conclusion, the Catholic priest known as Father Pontifex, an urban poet, calls everyone – not just Catholics – to vote for freedom in his video “We Hold These Truths,” filmed at St. Thomas More Parish in Obama’s hometown of Chicago:

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