Cardinal Timothy Dolan has accepted an invitation to give the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week, which will also feature a nun in a speaking role.
Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also will give the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday.
When he accepted that invitation, Dolan said his appearance would be prayerful, not political, a sentiment reiterated by his spokesman in announcing his appearance at the DNC.
"It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate," cardinal spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.
A nun who has been critical of the Republicans' federal budget will also have a speaking role at the Democratic convention, a source with the President Barack Obama's re-election campaign said Tuesday.
Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of a social justice group NETWORK, who helped lead a recent "nuns on the bus tour" against Rep. Paul Ryan's federal budget, will speak, the source said.
Ryan is presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's running mate.
Stephanie Niedringhaus, a spokeswoman at NETWORK, said that Campbell would speak next Wednesday and that she was out of the country and unavailable for comment.
The Vatican has been critical of American nuns recently, alleging that they have not focused enough on hot-button social issues and that they have given a platform for radical feminism at conferences.
Typically, a local bishop would speak at a convention like this. Zwilling said that Dolan "consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the Cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese."
Dolan's diocese is one of many in the midst of a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers to pay for contraceptives coverage for their employees. While churches and select other religious organizations are exempt, not all religiously affiliated groups are, and that has riled many religious groups that oppose contraceptives on religious grounds.