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Cardinal Dolan Closes RNC With Prayer

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan closed the Republican National Convention with a prayer Thursday. While some initially saw his appearance as a partisan move, Dolan will also have a role at next week's Democratic National Convention. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

The Republican National Convention closed with a prayer from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The Catholic leader caused a stir when he accepted an invitation to deliver a benediction for the Republicans. Some saw it as a partisan move, as Dolan has been fighting the president over mandating birth control coverage in health care plans.

Dolan's spokesman insisted that his trip to Tampa was not about politics. And the cardinal indicated his willingness to join the Democrats in Charlotte next week. An invitation later followed and Dolan announced this week that he would be praying at the Democratic National Convention as well.

In New York, at a blessing for construction workers, Dolan said he was honored to be coming to Tampa.

"I’m looking forward to it," he said. "I’ve been praying. I think I’ve been praying harder to pray better so I’ll be able to pray and life up hearts and minds. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to next Thursday as well with the Democrats."

Dolan's appearance at these conventions is a break from tradition. The local bishop is usually invited to give the closing benediction. In this case, though, both parties have tapped Dolan, the highest-ranking Catholic in America.

"It's not about politics," said Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for Obama. "It's about prayer and reflection and that is what Cardinal Dolan's attendance at the convention means and will mean."

Michelle Bauman, a reporter with Catholic News Agency, said that even though Dolan has clashed with President Obama, his attendance in Charlotte next week is a sign that he wants to keep the door open.

"He has spoken out numerous times against some of the decisions of the administration," Bauman said. "But he has also made it clear that he wants to engage the administration and that he wants to have a dialogue, even though he disagrees."

Dolan's spokesman has said he is attending the conventions as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party or candidate.

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