By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, America’s most prominent Catholic official, defended on Wednesday the decision to invite President Barack Obama to a major Catholic dinner in the face of criticism from conservatives, saying the event is an opportunity for “friendship, civility and patriotism” amid a heated political campaign.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has accepted an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner, an annual Catholic fundraiser in New York with a rich history. Since Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy spoke at the event in 1960, it has been a regular stop for presidents and presidential candidates of both major parties.
Some conservative Catholic groups had asked Dolan – the archbishop of New York and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - to reconsider the Obama invitation in light of what they say are attacks on religious freedom by the administration.
“As faithful Catholics, we cannot set aside our deeply-held differences and put in any place of honor those who continuously attack the tenets of our faith, and even our very ability to practice that faith,” wrote President Father Shenan J. Boquet of Human Life International.
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Now that one of the Republican Party’s least ideological men (Mitt Romney) has christened one of the GOP’s most ideological men (Paul Ryan) as his running mate, Ayn Rand is back in the news.
Ryan, who used to give away Rand’s novel "Atlas Shrugged" for Christmas, once described this Russian-born preacher of heroic individualism as "the reason I got into public service.” “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism," he told the pro-Rand Atlas Society in 2005, "than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works."
By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
CNN: Mohammed retakes top spot in English baby names
Mohammed reclaimed its place as the most popular name for baby boys born in England and Wales in 2011 – convincingly ahead of Harry, in second place, according to data released by the government this week.
CNN: Romney-Ryan ticket makes U.S. religious history
In selecting Paul Ryan for his running mate, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has made modern political history: a major party ticket with no Protestant Christian.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.