Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump looks at Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the national anthem as they attend the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner to benefit Catholic charities in New York, on October 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria

Cardinal Dolan confesses: Charity dinner with Trump and Clinton was tough

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump looks at Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the national anthem as they attend the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner to benefit Catholic charities in New York, on October 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks at Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the national anthem as they attend the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner to benefit Catholic charities in New York, on Oct. 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria

NEW YORK (RNS) The fallout from last week’s Al Smith Dinner is continuing, and not just for Donald Trump, whose cringe-worthy comedy at the traditional Catholic charity roast earned him the first boos in the history of the glitzy gala.

While some on the left were upset that the host, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, even allowed the Republican nominee a seat at the white-tie fundraiser, many on the right were angry -- as they have been in past election cycles -- that the archbishop also invited Hillary Clinton because she, like many previous Democratic nominees, supports abortion rights.

Now a potent voice among Catholic conservatives is arguing that “the Al Smith Dinner has become the Al Smith Embarrassment” and should be scrapped altogether.

“It’s time to give thanks for what it once did -- and then give it a decent burial,” George Weigel wrote in a column on Wednesday (Oct. 26) published at First Things, a conservative journal of religion and politics.

Weigel argued that not only will the famous political roast inevitably showcase a Democrat who supports abortion rights, but it evokes an era when Catholics were striving to show they belonged.

Today, he said, the event’s “seeming indifference to grave moral issues are an impediment” to genuine evangelization and the $6 million that the Al Smith extravaganza raises could easily be found elsewhere.

A day earlier, another conservative commentator also said “it’s time to question whether the Al Smith dinner should be abandoned.”

“The implicit message is that although we may differ on some superficial issues, deep down we’re all friends who agree on the really important issues,” wrote Phil Lawler, editor of the Catholic news site “Well, frankly, we aren’t.”

But the person whose opinion probably matters most isn’t having any of it.

“The event is great and nothing can ruin the event,” Dolan said Tuesday on his weekly radio program on The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM. “In my mind, it’s America and the church at their best.”

Dolan stressed, as he has before, that the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner, as it is formally known, not only raises money for an important cause but it shows how the church can bring foes together, even two as antagonistic as Trump and Clinton.

READ: Trump draws boos at Catholic charity event

The cardinal did concede that the Oct. 20 event “maybe let us down a bit” because the candidates were not as self-deprecating in their humor as the ground rules call for; the benefit, which has run for more than 70 years, is supposed to be about “light humor and political savvy” and aims to provide a brief respite near the end of an intense presidential contest.

The candidates’ routines this time, however, “really almost became a stump speech, they almost really became a partisan speech, and that’s not the best,” Dolan said.

The booing for Trump, who delivered his remarks first and was widely blasted for ripping Clinton without being terribly funny, was unprecedented, Dolan said. It put a damper on “the spirit of the evening.”

But he stressed that the event still rose above all that.

Behind the scenes, for example, the two candidates – who couldn’t bring themselves to shake hands at the third and final presidential debate a night earlier – were brought together by the cardinal during a brief pre-dinner prayer.

“They were both icy from the beginning, you could tell,” Dolan said. “They’re not on each other’s Christmas card list, I can tell you that. You could tell those two had a rather, I’d say, frigid relationship, more than icy.”

But after the prayer Trump turned to Clinton and said: “You are one tough, talented lady.”

Clinton, apparently surprised by praise from the man who had called her “a nasty woman” the night before, responded: “And you and I must work together no matter what happens in the election.”

Then on the dais at the dinner, the famously gregarious Dolan said he did his best to thaw things. And it seemed to work at least briefly when it suddenly dawned on him that both nominees are Protestants who have daughters (Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump) who married Jewish men.

“And they kind of had a pleasant discussion about this,” Dolan said. “So you try. But I don’t know how successful it was.”

The Al Smith Dinner is named after the first Catholic to head a major party ticket (Smith was trounced by Herbert Hoover in 1928, in large part due to anti-Catholicism) and the proceeds go to a charitable foundation that is also named after Smith.

In an election year, the archbishop of New York usually invites both presidential candidates for an evening of jokes and self-deprecating humor in honor of Smith, who was known as “the happy warrior.”


  1. The blame falls squarely on Clinton and Trump. They failed to behave civilly and responsibly.

  2. Trump behaved abominably, as he has done whenever he open his mouth. Clinton was responsible and did quite well. Further, Clinton is far more n tune with the best Catholic/Christian values than Trump. — Edd Doerr

  3. The blame falls plainly on Timothy Dolan. He is a sycophant, a bully and a coward. Unable to discern the inappropriateness of inviting Clinton due to her support for all forms of fetal homicide, he now puts the blame on Trump for bad conduct.
    Undoubtedly the good Cardinal regards the placement of his seat next to hers analogous to Christ’s hospitality for sinners and tax collectors. It isn’t. It is ecclesiastical hot air — another source of “climate change” in the Bergoglian era. It is nothing less than cowardly support for a woman who in former times would be rightly regarded as nothing less than a baby killer.
    Was Mr. Trump on his best behavior that night? No. Was Mrs. Clinton? Absolutely no. Was the Cardinal? Even less than the others. He is the cause of scandal yet again.

  4. You can go ahead and whine about having to be exposed to this conflict with a little more moral authority once you’ve done your part to separate the USCCB from being a paid client of the DNC. Until then – deal with it Your Eminence.

  5. What universe are you living in Edd? Abortion and the undermining of marriage is a “Catholic/Christian value”?? The serial overthrowing of middle eastern governments and the destabilization that entire region is “Catholic/Christian value”?? Hillary’s “dream” of a borderless world is a “Catholic/Christian value”?? A nation completely stripped of any public acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God, and the transcendent meaning of life is a “Catholic/Christian value”?? The laying up of astronomical amounts of debt to pay for absolutely worthless social programs – programs which in nearly all cases breed dependency and make the situation much worse – on the shoulders of this and all subsequent generations is a “Catholic/Christian value”?? Wake up my friend.

  6. “…some on the left were upset that the hos, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan…”

  7. My reference to values was to an overall picture. Clinton/Kaine are for freedom of conscience and religious liberty on abortion rights, while Trump/Pence are on the wrong side. Most Catholics agree with Clinton and Pence despite the church’s official stance. On the other issues Andrew mentions, Clinton/Pence are closer to the church’s social justice teaching than Trump and ex-Catholic Pence. — Edd Doerr

  8. No Eddoerr, you’re wrong. Hillary’s agenda is evil, you’d have known it had you done your research and watched the final debate.

    Hillary wants churches to change their “deep-seated cultural codes, RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, and structural biases” in order to give women unlimited access to abortion even at the point of a few hours before the child’s natural birth. So you see, Clinton is running not just as president but as God.

    Can you imagine what kind of Justices she will nominate to the Supreme Court, who will rule on life-and-gender issues not just abortion but also assisted suicide, transgender surgery, stem cell research, organ transplants, same sex “marriage,” marketing of baby parts and environmental regulations on private properties? “Catholic/Christian values?” – Really, Eddoerr? And are you willing to pay for them with your taxes?

    Remember, there will be a few vacancies in the Supreme Court that will have to be filled in the next few years. Scalia’s seat is still empty. Ginsburg is suffering from pancreatic cancer and may retire or die. Kennedy and Thomas are getting on in years and have dropped hints that they might retire instead of stay for life. The real power in this land of ours, at least for now, is not with the presidency but with the Supreme Court.

    Trump has compiled and made public a list of legal eagles whom he plans on nominating to the courts – Supreme and lesser ones – should he become president. Check it out. It’s a list of pro-life, conservative judges who will defend the Constitution and not legislate from the bench. If you don’t believe that Trump has turned pro-life, at least believe the judges.

    Hillary’s agenda is a known quantity of evil. With Trump’s, the good will have a fighting chance to prevail. I don’t know about you, but as a Cathollic, I’m voting Trump.

  9. Cardinal Dolan has become a joke. The dinner could continue if the guests that attended respected the teachings of the Catholic Church. That would eliminate most who attend now. The media and the politicos are anti- Catholic and one must wonder where Cardinal Dolan’s head is. He is now embrolled in a major scandal in his diocese that involves gay priests who have been stealing their parishes blind and the Cardinal has known about this for ages and does nothing about it. He is walking very close to the edge of the dam!

  10. Abortion and gay marriage is a mortal sin and it damns one to hell for eternity. Just because you elect to not belief this, does not make it so. The Bible and the Canon law of the Church forbid both under pain of damination!

  11. Trump is a bad person in the sense that we are all bad people because we have all made bad personal choices, but Hillary is an evil person because she seeks to codify her evil ideas and stomp on anyone who disagrees with her, as all Christians must because hers is an agenda of death and perversion.

  12. Hillary is not for religious freedom as she has publicly stated that religious beliefs “have to be changed”. Freedom of conscience is not freedom for the children who have their heads crushed by abortionists.

  13. Yes, there are some seriously problems with Dolan.

  14. G. Wiegel isn’t the only one to be critical:

    Jokes were made about the capitalist candidates but once laughter fills the room the expectation is that we embrace the wicked truth behind the joke – that there is no authentic choice and that democracy is purchased by the highest bidder – and begin to see it as justifiable and good; after all, you can’t upset the capitalists too much before seeing donations to your organizations and cathedral restorations cut.

    In 2013, Pope Francis said, “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!” A church that is poor does not have to compromise its prophetic witness to keep donors happy, nor worry about losing material goods as some possible punishment for denouncing the injustice built and reinforced by our economic and political power structures.

  15. Cardinal Dolan is a shame for the Church and an insult in the face of our Lord.
    Carry on, Cardinal, keep your lavish social dinners, then you will find that you are out of the Supper, along with Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards.

  16. He is a sycophant, a bully and a coward.”

    He is also deluded. Delusion: “A persistent false belief, held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a sign of a psychiatric condition.”

  17. Te Al Smith dinner is disgraceful and should have stopped giving the microphone to presidential candidates years ago.

  18. The big shame about Dolan is his indifference regarding clergy abuse of minors in both NY and Milwaukee.

  19. Wrong. Hillary has never said that religious beliefs “have to be changed.” What she has said is that government must not impose religious beliefs on citizens, as Trump, Pence, Dolan and many bishops do.

  20. Just because bishops say something is so does not make it so. In any event, most Catholics do not oppose free choice on abortion or gay marriage.

  21. Yeah, the truth can put a damper on things. But we are dealing with life and death issues both of body and soul here. Golly, can I wonder who C. Dolan is voting for?

  22. Yes, if you want unlimited immigration of even hostile foreigners, if you want unlimited abortions for free, if you like euthanasia, if you like the way your medical premiums are going up, if you like common core and the sexualization of the children, yes, if you don’t mind corruption and the deaths of opponents mysteriously happening then Killery is your gal.

  23. Mara319 is wrong. Clinton and Catholic Kaine do not seek to change anyone’s religious beliefs.What they want is religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all persons, and for government to stop trying to impose certain religious beliefs on everyone. Clinton and Kaine are on the side of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, unlike the despicable Trump and Pence.

  24. So you are in favor of intrinsic evils too? It matters not if ‘most catholics’ are in favor of evil there are still the sins that send souls to hell. Don’t believe in hell either? As V. Bishop Sheen said, “You will when you get there.”

  25. It’s good that they had a fundraiser. I wonder where the money is bound? People victimized by pedophile priests? Folks in need? Good options. Political activities? Attacks on American religious liberty? Really bad options.

    trump was such an ass he was booed, first time ever. Of course, he’s probably the first psychotic major party presidential candidate. Way to go, snacilbupeR.

  26. You know what it was that finally got my attention about this Trump fellow a few months ago? He actually SPOKE UP for middle eastern Christians!! At the very same moment when His Holiness was falling all over himself to invite Muslims into the walled Vatican City State (walled, by the way, when their ancestors were threatening to invade it) and whisper his asinine platitudes about peace, brotherhood and other variations on the Masonic “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” into their ears, Trump did what no other prominent American politician – LET ALONE CHURCHMAN – did and spoke up for these utterly forgotten and now raped, butchered, wandering, violated people. He spoke up and said something, spoke out in justice against these constant atrocities, when NO ONE else will, most especially Pope Francis.


  27. Edd, you need an intervention. Are you actually being serious?? Maybe you’re Episcopalian or ELCA or something.

    Hillary has said multiple times that the Church needs to change its teachings to suit the modern world. In other words, we need to adjust the Church’s God-revealed Truth to suit the modern world’s Satan-inspired lies!

    Engage in this thought exercise: when a person who has said the things she’s said about what the Church needs to do, AND THEN, she becomes President and starts issuing executive orders by the ream-full, what happens when she turns her attention to her promises about the Church changing its teachings? She figures out how to make it happen – people and Church organizations start getting sued, start receiving injunctions, start getting audited, start receiving visits from regulators and ultimately they start getting their property confiscated and start going to jail, and you might be able to figure out where they might take it from there. You want to be a part of that? Go ahead and vote for Hillary!

  28. If Dolan keeps up his shenanigans, he’ll be hoping against hope for some type of damper to tamp down the flames of hell! May God open Dolans eyes and ears to the truth and help him to repent before it is too late.

  29. edddoer, you are becoming silly. Everything you have said about Hillary has been disproved. Where do you go from here? Try the Bible.

  30. Don’t fret, Your Immense Eminence, we noticed how you leaned over and consoled poor Hillary each and every time Trump spoke the truth about her.

  31. I’m ashamed that there is a an Al Smith dinner at all.

  32. The biggest embarrassment in every sense of the word was the Cardinal. He set the stage for this. Shepherding souls in a sea of heresy and apostasy is job enough.

  33. The 1st Amendment guarantees in the Establishment Clause that I will not be subject to Sharia OR Canon Law. You may choose what you will.

  34. edddoerr, I notice that you give your own messages a thumbs-up. It looks more impressive if other people give your messages a thumbs-up.

  35. Once again, edddoerr is the only one to give his own message a thumbs-up. have you tried clicking the mouse over and over and over to see if you can get more than one?

  36. The first amendment does not allow for tax payer supported murder of pre-born infants.

  37. Planned Parenthood does receive federal money!! That is a fact.

  38. Yes, they receive Federal money, but not for abortion. I can’t tell if you are deliberately obtuse or simply have a disordered thought process. Your invocation of Canon law was what I was originally objecting to. The Reformation settled that question for most Christians.

    My recommendation is that you don’t marry someone of your own sex or get an abortion. That way you won’t have to put up with me in hell.

  39. You, no doubt you are a liberal and If Catholic, very lax. One gets this impression due to how ugly and mean your comments are to me and others. Plan Parenthood does benefit from tax dollars.

  40. I have acknowledged that Planned Parenthood receives tax dollars.

    “farleyzoober conservative5 • a day ago
    Yes, they receive Federal money, but not for abortion.”

    In fact, I am not a liberal. Nor am I a Catholic. My reference to the Reformation was perhaps not clear enough.

    Please provide an example of something ugly or mean I have said to you. Please provide an example of anything I have said to “others.”

  41. This horse manure needs to STOP, President Trump!!! President John Adams declared, when he signed the Treaty of Tripoli what’s the Musselmen or Muslims in 1793, that the United States is not a Christian country! That the Constitution of the United States of America and its Bill of Rights has nothing to do with the Christian Bible. That said, as an ex-Catholic and Satanist involved with The Satanic Temple, I need to ask what happened to the obvious separation of church and state? What needs to be done is all these religious groups that could be considered charity, I mean the pro-life groups, need to have their 501c4 tax exemptions REVOKED!! PAY YOUR TAXES OR STAY OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT!!!!

  42. “Fetal homicide”. Is that what it was called when the 16 year old woman in the New Jersey Catholic high school gave birth to her baby over the garbage pails so it could fall in properly??? The reason I ask is because in order to kill something has to be alive in the first place and actually born outside the womb!!!! Thomas Dolby ” She blinded me with SCIENCE!!! “

  43. Yes Cheryl. That is what it is. Homicide.
    “The reason I ask is because in order to kill something has to be alive in the first place and actually born outside the womb!!!!”
    Persons in your position need every excuse they can conjure.
    As for the unfortunate teenager you describe, she has been grievously disserved by all the “adults” around her. Her tragic choice was avoidable.

  44. It was Corliss Lamont, the unrepentant Stalinist and Humanist contributor (and whose money kept the magazine from going under in the 1960s or 1970s), who organized a celebration for the Red Army in 1945 and 1946 as Soviet troops were mass-raping German women in the occupied territories.

    Did you object to taking Lamont’s cash back then?

  45. Lamont eventually recognized that his earlier support for Stalin was mistaken. Read his autobiography.

  46. Was this was before or after the publication of Khrushchev’s “secret speech” in 1956? Khrushchev just confirmed what many anti-Communists have been saying about the USSR since the beginning.

    Lamont continued to be affiliated with the Soviet front group, National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, until it closed shop after the collapse of the USSR (and the indictment of the group’s executive director, the Rev. Alan Thompson, who was caught and then indicted for taking KGB money to keep the group afloat).

    Odd that Lamont believed that one could criticize organized religion and the policies of the U.S. government–which are certainly both fine–but never, ever Stalin or the USSR. You should read all the garbage he wrote from the 1920s to the 1950s.

  47. He was not booed constantly the reaction was shock that he was actually revealing truth behind the facade of humor. I’m surprised he failed to say “wow $6M that could buy a lot of pizza”!

  48. Stalin wasn’t the only one. Lamont also extolled the virtues of Mao Tse-Tung, Fidel Castro, and Ho Chi Minh. I’m surprised you don’t recall Lamont’s “Open Letter” to Joan Baez in the NY Times objecting to her concern with Vietnam’s boat people.

  49. So Dolan …get off your high horse and follow the Popes example and stand up for Christian values ….

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