Obama, Romney take turns poking fun at each other at Al Smith dinner
Published: October 19, 2012
NEW YORK (CNS) -- As headliners for a glittering event that raised $5 million for Catholic health care programs in the Archdiocese of New York, President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney briefly suspended their vociferous campaign rhetoric to exchange humorous jibes Oct. 18 at the 67th annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. The host of the event, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, was seated on the four-tiered dais between the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. They faced more than 1,640 formally attired donors who filled the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and its two balconies. By tradition, speakers poke fun at themselves, one another and various prominent guests, without inflicting wounds. This does not preclude delivering a serious message with a smile. Cardinal Dolan was criticized for inviting Obama because of his administration's mandate requiring most Catholic employers, like other employers, to provide free contraceptive coverage for employees over the church's moral objections. The church considers the mandate, currently being challenged in federal court, a threat to religious freedom. But the cardinal managed to land a few direct punches that were met with appreciative applause. He said the annual dinner shows the United States and the Catholic Church at their best. "Here we are in an atmosphere of civility and humor hosted, fittingly, by a church that claims that joy is the infallible sign of God's presence," he said. "We are grateful to be people of faith and loyal Americans, loving a country which considers religious liberty our first and most cherished freedom, convinced that faith is not just limited to an hour of Sabbath worship, but affects everything we do or dare and dream."
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