A Candidate for Most-Awkward Charity Dinner?

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August 9, 2012; Source: USA TODAY

President Barack Obama has been invited to a charity dinner by one of the Catholic organizations that is suing his administration. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archdiocese of New York, has publicly hammered Obama for supporting a requirement that employers include contraception in their health care plans. Dolan has also denounced the president’s support for marriage equality for same-sex couples. The invitation may be driven by tradition more so than anything else; New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told the New York Times that the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner (named after the former governor of New York) typically includes “the presidential candidates in the presidential election years in the spirit of nonpartisanship, good humor and good fellowship.”

But this spirit doesn’t seem to have reached some Catholics opposed to the president who, in a sign of just how little civility is left in American public life, want Dolan to revoke his invitation. A petition to un-invite the president is now circulating, but Zwilling says that both President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney RSVP’d to attend. So when this dinner happens on October 18th, you’ll likely have a Cardinal Dolan facing criticism from his base about the invitation, and you’ll have a president (if he indeed attends) trying to stay classy while sitting among the Catholic leadership that is suing his administration. –Mike Keefe-Feldman