Our take: Traditionally, the Al Smith Dinner is supposed to be a break from the contentious campaign trail — a white-tie charity banquet held in the weeks before Election Day, hosted by the archbishop of New York and featuring speeches by the two presidential candidates on the condition that they lob nothing more than good-natured jibes. But abortion foes say it's better to cancel the event than for New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to have invited President Obama.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, a leading abortion opponent based in Staten Island, said Monday (Aug. 6) that "the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal. There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church," Pavone wrote in an email. "So no, I dont think the invitation is appropriate at this time."

The U.S. bishops as a body have become increasingly conservative and increasingly committed to opposing Obama because of his views on abortion and gay rights, as well as the contraception mandate.