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 CNS Story:

GOP-PRAYERS Sep-5-2008 (430 words) With photo. xxxn

Catholic clergy offer prayers at Republican National Convention

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As members of the Republican Party sought the Catholic vote during its Sept. 1-4 Republican National Convention, two members of the Catholic clergy took center stage and offered blessings.

Jesuit Father Edward Reese, president of Brophy College Preparatory School in Phoenix, was personally invited by the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and his wife, Cindy, to offer a prayer at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 3. The McCains' sons, James and Jack, graduated from Brophy and Cindy McCain is a member of the school's board of regents.

Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., also offered a prayer Sept. 3, the same day Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee, gave a rousing speech that gave many Americans their first comprehensive exposure to her.

During his prayer, Father Reese called on God to "be present here so that your work may be ours." He then asked the Lord to bless John and Cindy McCain, and all of those called to public service and to "help us continue to pay attention to serve the underserved, wherever they may be. Give us the strength to fill the need for those who struggle, especially those in the Gulf (of Mexico) region."

Bishop Wenski -- who was invited to speak at the convention by the GOP Aug. 26 -- also reminded the audience to keep those impacted by Hurricane Gustav in their prayers, then prayed for God to help Americans avoid the complacency of the past.

"Lord, may those gathered here and all Americans use the opportunities our democracy gives us to shape a society more respectful of life, from conception to natural death, a society that promotes and defends the dignity of the family and marriage, " he said during his time at the podium.

He also prayed for "a society that fosters the rights of the human person, especially those of the poor, the migrant and the vulnerable, both at home and abroad. May your grace help us overcome all adversity."

In the past, it has not been unusual for a cardinal, archbishop or bishop from the city hosting a convention to lead delegates in prayer at some point during the nominating process.

St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John C. Nienstedt declined more than one invitation from the Republicans to be part of the convention, said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"We can't be partisan, so we've turned down all those opportunities," McGrath said.


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