Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan famously played peacemaker between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton back in October, sitting between the then-bitter rivals at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, and also privately praying with them that same night.
Now, Dolan is slated to take on a very different role: encouraging Americans — as well as president-elect Trump — when he is one of six faith leaders to take the stage at Friday’s inauguration; he will read from the Book of Wisdom, chapter 9, a text attributed to King Solomon that focuses on wisdom involving Solomon’s leadership of Israel.
The prayer opens by acknowledging God’s power in creating mankind, then continues on to ask for guidance while expressing the king’s deep love for the Almighty.
“Give me Wisdom, the consort at your throne, and do not reject me from among your children. For I am your servant, the child of your maidservant, a man weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws,” reads verses four and five, with verse six continuing, “Indeed, though one be perfect among mortals, if Wisdom, who comes from you, be lacking, that one will count for nothing.”
From there, Solomon goes on to acknowledge that God has chosen him to be king, and to ask for wisdom in carrying out his role, as he pledges to do so “justly.” You can read all 18 verses of the Book of Wisdom, chapter 9 here.
There are two notable elements surrounding this reading. First, the text focuses on wisdom and leadership and is, thus, appropriate for the inauguration of a new president. Second, it’s accepted by the Catholic Church, but is generally rejected by Protestants and is considered to be apocryphal by many of these folks.
Either way, Dolan said he believes the message is an important one in light of the occasion.
The Catholic leader, who will have a minute to read the prayer, also told Catholic News Service that he knows some people aren’t happy with his decision to participate in Trump’s inauguration, though he said he also would have agreed to do the same had Clinton won, calling prayer a responsibility he has as a faith leader.
“We pastors and religious leaders are in the sacred enterprise of prayer. People ask us to pray with them and for them,” he told the outlet. “That doesn’t mean we’re for them or against them. That’s our sacred responsibility.”
Dolan continued, “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 fulfill some of the promises he made.”
As Faithwire previously reported, the Catholic cardinal will be joined by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Pastor Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center, the Rev. Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
As Time noted, Rodriguez will offer words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, proclaiming, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And Hier will offer up a prayer that touches on “modern themes,” NPR reported.
“It will be a short prayer, but it will reflect on the 21st century,” the rabbi said.
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