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Mitt Romney's Mormonism not a problem for Catholics, Cardinal Timothy Dolan says

Published: Tuesday, April 10 2012 8:22 a.m. MDT

Archbishop Timothy Dolan speaks during a news conference in New York in 2009.

Bebeto Matthew

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It wasn't exactly an endorsement, but Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that Mitt Romney's membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a reason to oppose his election.

There may be other reasons to choose not to vote for Romney, Dolan added, but his faith isn't one of them.

Dolan said that during a meeting of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League a couple of months ago, he expressed the opinion that Catholics wouldn't have a problem voting for a Mormon in the White House.

"I said, 'Listen, everybody, we Catholics and we Jews have felt the sting of the other side, and now one of the ways we can cooperate is to see that religious practice, religious bigotry doesn't enter the campaign,’ ” Dolan said.

Which is not to say that Dolan thinks there should be no discussion of faith in politics.

"I think politics, just like business, just like education, just like the arts, just like culture, only benefits when religion, when morals, when faith has a place there," he said. "I think the public square in the United States is always enriched whenever people … are inspired by their deepest held convictions."

Meanwhile on ABC, pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church of Lake Forest, Calif., one of the 10 largest mega churches in the United States, told Jake Tapper on "This Week" that the "sticking point" for evangelicals with regards to Romney and Mormonism is the doctrine of the Trinity.

"Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, Protestant Christians, evangelical Christians and Pentecostal Christians all believe in the Trinity," Warren said. "That's the historic doctrine of the church, that God is three-in-one. Not three gods; one God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"Mormonism denies that," Warren continued. "That's the sticking point for a lot of Catholic Christians, evangelical Christians, Pentecostal Christians, because they don't believe that. Now, they'll use the same terminology, but they don't believe in the historic doctrine of the Trinity. People have tried to make it other issues, but that's really one of the fundamental issues."

Still, many evangelicals are looking for ways to slide gracefully into the Romney camp — issues with his Mormonism notwithstanding.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who has declared Latter-day Saints "non-Christian" and has made the case that the LDS Church should be considered "the fourth Abrahamic covenant," recently wrote in USA Today that there are five reasons why evangelical social conservatives will rally in support of Romney if he is the Republican candidate for president:

1."Approximately one-third of evangelicals have already been supporting Romney."

2."Favoring (Rick) Santorum doesn't necessarily translate into hostility for Romney, especially in a general election."

3."Many evangelicals argue that rallying behind Romney as a nominee will be easier if they feel they and their candidate (Santorum) had a fair shot."

4."Evangelical and conservative unease about Romney has not been primarily about his Mormon faith but about his earlier pro-choice and liberal social positions. Ironically, if Romney had been more Mormon, more in tune with his faith's views on these issues from the beginning of his political career, there would be far fewer doubts among evangelicals."

5."One should never underestimate President Obama's unique ability to rally people behind his opponent. Whatever lingering doubts some evangelicals may have about Romney, or discomfort about his Mormon faith, they pale compared with their fears of a second Obama administration."