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.
“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