Matt C. Abbott
August 9, 2012
How 'bout Chick-fil-A at Al Smith Dinner?; Catholic chaplain and military registry
By Matt C. Abbott

In response to the 2012 Al Smith Dinner controversy, an Archdiocese of New York official, Ed Mechmann, has posted a blog entry titled "Controversies and Dinners," asserting:
    ...Some people have been saying that inviting the president in some way undermines or contradicts the Church's public witness in defense of life and the family. There is no question that the president's political agenda and policy record are deplorable from a Catholic perspective — he is consistently anti-life and is ardent in his promotion and support of abortion, he is in favor of re-defining marriage, he opposes parental choice in education, his administration is a consistent enemy of religious freedom, and there is good reason to believe that he has dealt with our bishops in less than good faith.

    Give the consistency and strength with which our bishops — particularly Cardinal Dolan — have been proclaiming the Catholic view of public policy, it is hard to see how this one dinner could possibly lead anyone to believe that the Church is softening her defense of life, the family, and religious liberty. When everyone wakes up the morning after, the struggle will resume.... [To read the full list of excuses reasons for the presidential invitation, click here.]
(Sigh.) And the beat goes on.

Interestingly, as John-Henry Westen of points out:
    Mechmann's blog post makes several arguments covering much ground, but avoids what is perhaps the most salient point — namely, that there is already a precedent for refusing to invite pro-abortion presidential candidates.

    In 1996, New York Cardinal John O'Connor did not invite President Bill Clinton to the Al Smith Dinner, which according to archdiocesan sources who spoke to The New York Times anonymously, was due to the cardinal's 'annoyance' at Clinton's veto of the partial-birth abortion ban. Bob Dole was also not invited, it was said, so as to avoid partisan appearances.

    Also in 2004, New York Cardinal Edward Egan refused to invite presidential candidates John Kerry and George Bush. Archdiocesan spokesman Zwilling explained then that 'the issues in this year's campaign could provoke division and disagreement.'
Mechmann writes, "When everyone wakes up the morning after, the struggle will resume."

Ah, but dare I ask: Will the president respect us Catholics in the morning (after)?

You know the answer.

Gosh, at this point, the least the Al Smith Dinner officials can do is serve Chick-fil-A as the event's main meal, no? I think it would send a good message to both the president and Mitt Romney.

From Catholic Online:
    For several years, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods has supported chaplains serving U.S. military personnel around the world. In order to meet the needs of those serving, Aquinas and More created a unique program to bring civilians and servicemen together spiritually. The Military Registry has enabled Aquinas and More to send thousands of gifts, Bibles, rosaries, catechisms, patron saint medals, prayer books and other items to registered chaplains.

    Currently, any interested chaplain may set up a registry with Aquinas and More and then creates a list of items he needs for the soldiers in his care. Customers can visit the military registry online, select any number of items from the chaplain's list, and purchase them. Aquinas and More then packages and ships the items on their own at no cost to either the chaplain or the purchaser.

    'The end goal, of course, is to help in some small way to meet the spiritual needs of military personnel serving in harm's way, to help sustain their hope and faith in God, especially in difficult times,' said Ian Rutherford, president of Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

    This program is a true partnership to help these courageous chaplains who are often serving with the most limited resources in very tough conditions. 'We hope you will join us in this effort and tell others about this program so as many chaplains and military personnel as possible can benefit. God bless you for your support of our troops,' said Rutherford.

    Military chaplains can register online and citizens can visit the site for shopping at
© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at

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