New York – Cardinal John O’Connor of the New York archdiocese reaffirmed his opposition to President Bill Clinton’s stand on abortion by refusing to invite the president to the popular Al Smith dinner.

Named in honor of the first Catholic governor of the State of New York, the Al Smith dinner has welcomed US presidents for the last 60 years. This year’s dinner is scheduled for October 17 at the Waldorf Astoria.

Observers say Cardinal O’Connor action is the most dramatic gesture to date in his effort to overturn Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban in the U.S. The veto has galvanized pro-life opposition to the Democratic president and has revealed Clinton’s pandering to the most extreme element of the pro-abortion lobby.

Cardinal O’Connor has been one of the most outspoken pro-life leaders among the U.S. Catholic clergy since coming to the New York archdiocese. He has not let up in his criticism of the presidential veto and has called for prayer, fasting and sacrifice among the faithful to help protect unborn children.

During a July mass to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Carding O’Connor described partial-birth abortion as “infanticide.” He also said the move marks a new low of partial-birth abortion in virtually beyond imagination,” the cardinal said.

Although some have criticized Cardinal O’Connor for entering into the political arena, others have praised his efforts as a bold and much-needed show of leadership on an urgent moral issue. The Vatican has been almost as strong in condemning Clinton’s action.