New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the Scripture passage he chose to read at the inauguration of Donald Trump as president – Wisdom chapter 9, in which King Solomon prays for wisdom to lead Israel according to God’s will – was an easy one to make.
“I pray it all the time,” he told Catholic News Service and joked that “the Lord still hasn’t answered the prayer.”
Jokes aside, Cardinal Dolan said that Solomon’s prayer has been one offered to God for centuries.
In the prayer, Solomon acknowledges that God made humankind “to
govern the world in holiness and righteousness and to render judgment in
integrity of heart.” The king continues by asking God for wisdom, “the
consort at your throne, and do not reject me from among your children.”
Solomon also pleads with God to send wisdom “that she may be with me
and work with me, that I may know what is pleasing to you.” He asks that
his “deeds will be acceptable and I will judge your people justly and
be worthy of my father’s throne.”
As for his appearance on the podium at the start of the inaugural
ceremony with three other faith leaders, Cardinal Dolan explained that
he was “flattered” to be invited to participate by inauguration
The cardinal has one minute to read the passage. “That’s more than enough,” he said. “I’ve timed it.”
He also was asked to send his selection to the Trump team. “I don’t
know if that was for vetting purposes or not, which I think is
appropriate to do so,” he told CNS.
And in these divisive times in the country, Cardinal Dolan
acknowledged that he opened himself up to critics by agreeing to be part
of the ceremonies.
“I know they are [there] because they’ve written to me,” he said.
“And as I tell them, had Mrs [Hillary] Clinton won and invited me, I
would have been just as honoured.
“We pastors and religious leaders are in the sacred enterprise of
prayer. People ask us to pray with them and for them. That doesn’t mean
we’re for them or against them,” he added.
“That’s our sacred responsibility.”
The cardinal noted that he had met Trump twice.
The first time came
on October 14 in the midst of the presidential campaign when Trump and
his wife, Melania, made the six-block trip from Trump Tower to St
At the time, diocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling
said that Trump had requested the meeting weeks before it occurred.
The two met again at the 71st annual dinner of the Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation six days later.
For the record, Cardinal Dolan met Clinton a few months earlier and also at the dinner, according to Zwilling.
The inauguration of a new president can be a time of hope and renewal for the country, Cardinal Dolan said.
“Many people may have reservations of the president-elect and I
certainly do, as with any incoming president. But in the great American
tradition, we look at the time of an incoming president as a time of
hope … a way to give a man a chance and try to fulfil some of the
promises he made.”
Trump’s inauguration won’t be the first in which a Catholic cleric
participated. History shows that Mgr John Ryan, a pioneer of the
Church’s social justice advocacy who served a long term as director of
the US bishops’ social action department, offered a prayer at the
President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 inauguration.
Prelates who prayed at inaugurations include Cardinal Richard J
Cushing of Boston at the inauguration of President John F Kennedy in
1961; Cardinal Terrence J Cooke of New York, at both of President
Richard Nixon’s inaugurations in 1969 and 1973; and, most recently,
Archbishop John R Roach of St Paul and Minneapolis, who was US bishops’
conference president in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter took the oath
Cardinal Dolan said he attended ceremonies as a private citizen for
President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and President George HW Bush in 1989.