Cardinal Dolan’s Complaints Are Not Warranted

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Tomorrow morning, NBC-TV will air a pre-taped interview with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in which the prelate claims that the Catholic Church has been wrongly portrayed as being “anti-gay” because of official support for heterosexual marriage.

USA Today  reports:

“A top Roman Catholic cardinal says he regrets that the church is portrayed as ‘anti-gay’ for supporting traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

“Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, told NBC News that the church has been ‘out-marketed” on the issue by an array of people, including politicians.

” ‘We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay,’ Dolan said in an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. ‘And as much as we’d say, “Wait a minute, we’re pro marriage, we’re pro traditional marriage, we’re not anti anybody,” I don’t know.

” ‘When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle,’ he said. . . .

” ‘I think I’d be a Pollyanna to say that there doesn’t seem to be kind of a stampede to do this,’ Dolan told David Gregory of Meet the Press. ‘I regret that. I wish that were not the case for the states.’ “

Dolan’s comments are filled with many errors in characterization.  First, “the church” is not against same-gender marriage.  The church hierarchy is defending heterosexual-only.  We know that poll after poll keeps showing that Catholics support marriage equality–and “the church” is rightly defined as ALL the people of God, not just the hierarchy.

Second,  people, especially Catholics, are not being swayed by external forces to support marriage equality.  Catholics are supporting these measures not in spite of their faith, but because of their faith.  Catholic principles of justice, equality, human dignity, protection and support of all families are what are motivating them to support  marriage for lesbian and gay couples.   The more that the hierarchy continues to view this argument as a battle between forces inside and outside the church, the more that these leaders will miss the fact that the Holy Spirit is moving among the laity on this issue.

Third, it is not  because of opposition to marriage equality that people characterize Catholic leadership as anti-gay.  It is because they oppose a whole variety of equality issues–immigration, employment non-discrimination, adoption,  as well as marriage–that people view the hierarchy as anti-gay.  It’s because they deny sacraments to lesbian and gay people and their supporters, because they expel children of lesbian and gay people from Catholic schools, because they fire openly LGBT people from church employment, because they hold exorcisms when marriage equality is enacted, because they compare the gay equality movement to the Ku Klux Klan–and so many other actions and statements–that people perceive the church hierarchy as anti-gay.   And it’s because they miss every opportunity to do or say anything positive that people develop this characterization.

Just look at how people have responded to the few positive things that Pope Francis has said in regard to lesbian and gay people.  While he has not challenged church doctrine, he has found many ways of being affirmative, and people are responding in a wildly positive way.

Cardinal Dolan, and all the U.S. bishops, should stop blaming others and do a thorough examination of their own statements, behaviors, and attitudes in regard to LGBT people and issues.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


19 replies
  1. Rick Garcia
    Rick Garcia says:

    Contrary to Cardinal Dolan the Catholic Church is not being ‘caricatured’ as antigay. The Church is perceived as anti-gay NOT because it teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman but because its bishops have lied about gay people and our lives, have demonized us and have persecuted priests, Sisters and parishes that minister authentically to gay people and our families. In addition, some bishops have threatened and tried to intimidate Catholic legislators who support equality and justice for all.”

    There are people of good will who do not support same-sex marriage on religious grounds but they do not try to force their personal religious ideology on the nation nor do they attack lesbian and gay people and their families.

    The Catholic bishops have spent millions of dollars fighting hate crimes legislation and laws banning housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Most egregious the bishops have threatened to not support the immigration reform bill if it includes same-sex couples.

    The bishops consistently reduce gay people to their genitals and what they do or do not do with them and a number of bishops have supported and promoted dangers programs that seek to change gay people’s sexual orientation. The bishops have opposed any legislation or policy changes that would affirm gay peoples’ right to be treated equitably under the law.
    THAT is why the Church is perceived as anti-gay. It is not a caricature it is a sad reality

    • Martin Grochala
      Martin Grochala says:

      Amen to that! Both Rick and Frank write the truth in noting that the Catholic bishops have not been sitting innocently on the sidelines on this issue. They have – for centuries – imbedded the demonization of LGBT people into the fabric of our church. The people in the pews do see the truth and are embracing LGBT people in a way that highlights the shameful opposition by our bishops.

  2. Joe Geist
    Joe Geist says:

    The bishops need to stop talking on both ends of their mouths. Furthermore, their actions speak louder than their words. As Shakespeare would say, “me thinketh they protest too much.”

  3. Ryan Sattler
    Ryan Sattler says:

    Another great BONDINGS2.0. You allow the story to unfold with quotes, and untruths. Then for the record, you tell us “the rest of the story.” Reading BONDINGS2.0 is a great way to start your day.

  4. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    Well said, Frank. Thanks from us straight folks who love our LGBT sisters and brothers because they are our sisters and brothers, not because Hollywood and the media say we should or because it happens to be fashionable. Dolan continues to dig the hierarchy’s hold deeper and deeper.

  5. Maren
    Maren says:

    Yes, thank you for pointing out that what we are missing from most hierarchy is Positive comments of any kind. And that is why Pope Francis has given us a breath of fresh air, so consistent with Jesus and the marginalized that followed him & were so taken with His “good news’!!

  6. JAD
    JAD says:

    Yes I recall reading in the Cardinal’s blog: “The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction . . . while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God’s teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage.
    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects wealthy people, while prophetically teaching the at-times-uncomfortable virtue of justice and charity towards the poor.
    We are part of a Church where, yes, all are welcome, but, no, not a Church of anything goes…..”

  7. John C Calhoun
    John C Calhoun says:

    Very pertinent again is Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s comment in his paper “Sexual Relationships “Where Does Our Morality Come From” available on ‘’. His thesis: “1. There is no possibility whatsoever of a change in the teaching of the Catholic Church on the subject of homosexual acts unless and until there is first a change in its teaching on heterosexual acts; 2. There is a serious need for change in the Church’s teaching on heterosexual acts; 3. If and when this change occurs, it will inevitably have its effect on teaching on homosexual acts.” The change is already occurring and those not afraid to articulate it and carry on a broad discussion about the same will serve the Church well. “If teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change, the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must first change.”

  8. david
    david says:

    I am 66 y.o. and gay. The first thought that came to mind after reading Dolan’s comments is that he has not been on “the people’s side of the altar” in so long that he does not know or is in denial about what he and the hierarchy are projecting. After nearly 60 years, I could no longer abide the insults to my God-given sexual orientation. No matter what defense Dolan offers about the Church not being anti-gay, every statement he makes continues to have the nuance of “intrinsically disordered” at its foundation. Maybe one has to be the object of his marginalization to discern that. Even in those parishes that are “accepting,” attending a worship service where I am “one of kind,” where I do not see same sex couples in attendance and openly communicating their respect and commitment to each other, it does not feel like welcoming or inclusive. In a church where I could minister as long as it did not know I am gay but afterward, I could not, it is disingenuous to deny being anti-gay.

  9. jono113
    jono113 says:

    Perhaps as Dolan exits Stage Right as President of the bishops’ conference, we may hear less of him and more of Francis. Let us pray.

  10. Stan Lewis
    Stan Lewis says:

    Cardinal Dolan is highly hypocritical. He has set an example for persecution of LGBT people for many years. His pronouncements and actions have been unchristian and have contributed to the abuse of many of our citizens. As a catholic, I believe his actions have discredited the church, and he has a lot to answer for.

  11. Friends
    Friends says:

    The sad fact is that Dolan is a LIBERAL…compared to Paprocki…who holds public exorcisms to “Drive Satan” out of faithfully-bonded and loving same-sex couples. Major intervention against the hate-filled attitudes of these American bishops is needed by Pope Francis…and needed STAT!

  12. From The Heartland
    From The Heartland says:

    The RC church IS anti-gay. It fires gay organists just because their gay. It has fired teachers who disagree with the church’s anti-gay marriage stance. why I stay in the church is a question that some of my straight friends don’t understand. I’m out and fortunately my pastors (current and past) have never used that against me in my ministry (as an organist) but too many times it has been done. The Pope may say “who am I to judge?” but lots of other ordained priests and bishops are too quick to judge.


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