New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan (Photo: AP)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan is doing the right thing speaking at both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican one.

His decision came after a storm of criticism about him appearing only at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and not at the Democratic one in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There was also news of a secret meeting between Mitt Romney and Dolan at Dolan’s office in New York which took many observers by surprise.

Why a secret meeting? Why not acknowledge out front that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York was meeting one of the two men who will be president come January next year?

Clearly Dolan, by far the most powerful figure in the American Catholic Church, was displaying a partisan approach that went down badly with many American Catholics.

On social justice issues such as immigration and caring for the poor, the church is far closer to the Democratic party.

On doctrinal issues such as abortion and church affairs, they are closer to the GOP.

The Catholic faithful are probably split in a similar manner with the more conservative wing leaning towards the Republicans and cultural Catholics siding with Democrats.

So the New York archdiocese and Dolan went ahead and finally did the decent thing and acknowledged both parts of their divided faithful.

In a statement on Thursday, the New York Archdiocese stated:

“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention. As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday of this week.

The news of the Democratic convention gig also came after the New York Times revealed that Romney had secretly met with Dolan last month.

“The two had a private meeting, previously undisclosed, at the chancery in New York, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said Peter G. Flaherty, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign on religious issues.

Secret meetings and offering benedictions to one side and not the other should not be the style of the Catholic Church and its undisputed leader.

Dolan has already displayed animosity to Obama and sued him over his health care law. He has made plain his disdain for this president and his policies.

On the other side, he positively gushed in a recent radio interview about GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan who hails from his home state of Wisconsin.

It has become obvious for some time that Cardinal Dolan loves his media image and pumps it up at every opportunity.

He positively preens in the spotlight which is harmless enough, but putting the Catholic Church squarely on the side of the Republicans was a major mistake.

It does not seem that long ago that Protestant churches mounted a savage campaign against Catholic John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Many of those churches never fully recovered from the backlash to that onslaught.

This is a deeply divided society right now, even at the level of the US Bishops where some have criticized VP candidate Paul Ryan for targeting his budget cuts at the poor.

Cardinal Dolan should have really known better than to totally align himself with one side.

Luckily he has seen the light.