Instead of having him drop by the first ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning, the President’s advisers kept him at home. The prayer breakfast, which was to feature a rosary, Mass, and a speech by Avery Cardinal Dulles, sold more than 900 tickets in less than a month.
The event, including the Mass, was held at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, a block from St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Washington’s Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, who ten days ago met privately with Sen. John Kerry, would not allow organizers to use the cathedral out of concern that the event would be too “conservative,” according to a source inside the Washington Diocese.
Sen. Kerry’s presidential campaign had attempted to get Kerry invited, but organizers did not extend an invitation.
The breakfast was organized by a nonprofit group, set up, in part, by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.
“This is the first year the event was held, and there was some concern about committing the President to an event that didn’t have a track record of success,” says a White House insider. “The decision to decline the invitation had nothing to do with politics. We understand that Catholics are a critical part of the Republican base. Maybe we got bad advice.”
That’s not the way many Catholics see it. Instead, there continue to be rumblings that the White House and its Catholic surrogates fail to reach out in even small ways to Roman Catholic groups.
“You look at states like Ohio and Pennsylvania,” says a longtime Catholic activist in Washington, “and you wonder, who is speaking to the Irish Catholic, the Italian Catholic, the ethnic Catholic? It sure isn’t this White House and it sure isn’t the people they have trying to do Catholic outreach.”
Word in some Catholic circles is that in-fighting among those who direct Catholic outreach for Republicans may have doomed what could have been a high profile appearance for the President among Catholics just blocks away from the White House. Instead, the President is slated to speak at the national convention for the Knights of Columbus.
“Why can’t the President do two Catholic events in the same year?” wonders the Catholic activist.p> WRINKLE PROOF
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