A Father’s Day Reflection

Along with so many other people of faith – and of no particular religion at all – we Catholic pastors and citizens persevere, on this Father’s Day, in our prayers and efforts to defend the timeless definition of marriage as the loving, faithful union between one man and one woman leading to a family.

At the conclusion of tomorrow’s 10:15 Sunday Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, I’ll ask for prayers that this noble endeavor, at the heart of nature’s understanding of the common good, and historically protected by our country’s normative principles, will succeed.

We appreciate and encourage the legitimate concern of some of our thoughtful elected officials to make sure religious freedom is always guaranteed, but still in principle will oppose any radical bill to redefine the very essence of marriage.

While one searches the Constitution in vain to find any “right” of two people of the same sex to marry, one immediately locates the right of people of faith not to have intrusive government interfere with the free exercise of religion as the first of the Bill of Rights.

One has to wonder why the proponents of this radical re-definition, who claim overwhelming popular support, would not consider, for example, a referendum to determine the people’s will on such a drastic departure from traditional values?

Please let me once again resist the caricature that we are “anti-gay.” Our strong convictions are not anti anybody, but simply pro marriage. We would just as vigorously defend marriage from a demand by a heterosexual, or anybody else, to redefine the very nature of marriage to accommodate a relationship beyond that of one man and one woman.

We celebrate Father’s Day. The sacred word “father” implies “mother.” The terms “father and mother” presume “husband and wife,” and imply “children.”

These words are so basic that they’re the first ones a baby says; so foundational that they’re among the first words of the Creator recorded in the Bible.

Government presumes to redefine these sacred words at the peril of the common good.

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68 Responses to “A Father’s Day Reflection”

  1. Barbara B. says:

    Nancy is exactly right. There are plenty of blogs where many of you will find like minds, why not go there? Some of the posts are extremely offensive and just plain untrue.

  2. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    No Barbara, they won’t go to websites with like minds as long as their organized letter writing campaign to this one is on.

    If these letters from CINO’s (Catholics in Name Only) don’t show the Archbishop the damage that was done the last 50-60 years through the lack of true Catholic teaching in our schols and our pulpits – nothing will.

    Catholic education in this nation is in shambles. Anyone who has been following this thread and the postings from the “Catholic Buts” (I’m born and raised Catholic BUT) can see that.

    Our Lady must shed rivers of tears.

  3. seefish says:

    “In a world that often falls short when it comes to doing the right thing, blessing the love of two adult people should be an easy decision to make. ”
    — this statement shows the central mistake made by so many in understanding this issue.
    ‘gay rights’ is not about love. it is about ‘gay sex’. It is about anal and oral sex and mutual masturbation with members of the same sex to be more specific.

    Anal and oral sex and masturbation are sins, even when between married heterosexuals, The church is not showing a double standard in this assessment.

    Marriage laws exist so that the state has the ability to declare certain sexual relationships to be illegal. It is illegal for adult children to marry parents, brother to marry sisters , It is illegal to have more then one spouse, it is illegal to marry a Dog or a goat.

    The second reason for those laws is to support the raising of children in a healthy environment, including one where they learn healthy lessons about sexuality.

    How can a relationship , which is based on mutual masturbation and sodomy teach children healthy gender relationships?

    These relationships are not condoned by law for the same reason sex with Dog’s is not condone by law. They are by their very nature unhealthy.

    All laws have built within them , an assumption of morality. Of the existence of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and more over ‘rights’.

    You cannot have a right to do what is wrong. Homosexual sex is wrong. Adultery, wrong, masturbation wrong. These are teachings that have not changed since the time of apostles and Jesus himself would have been fully in agreement, make no mistake on that!

    It is in fact very unloving to encourage someone to commit sin , through words or law.
    Legalizing ‘gay’ marriage would therefore be a very unloving action.

    The church must always act out of love. Bravo good bishop. peace.

  4. seefish says:

    “The Catholic Church, or any church, will never be required to marry any couple that it doesn’t wish to marry” — This is NOT the goal of the homosexual lobby.
    They will stop at nothing other then absolute acceptance of the ‘lifestyle’ they choose.
    In Canada we have had Roman Catholic priest arrested for ‘hate speech’ simply for reading the catholicism of the catholic church’s teaching on homosexuality publicly.
    It is the intention of these groups to force the church to shut it’s public ministries and to be totally silent in the public form , if she refuses to agree that what they call a ‘lifestyle’ is not both legitimate and holy. They have no ‘tolerance’ for what they consider to be ‘intolerant’.

  5. seefish says:

    @ Edmund — your post is conflicted and confusing.
    What , in the good bishops post to suppose to address?
    Do you support the legalization of ‘homosexual’ marriage, which encourage masturbation,
    anal and oral sex? Do you pro-port that such actions are to be considered moral?

    I would propose to you that anyone who finds themselves tempted to homosexual actions but does not act on those temptations is no more gay or homosexual then someone who finds themselves tempted to steal is a thief, or someone who finds themselves tempted to adultery is cheating on their wife?
    Temptation is not a sin. Even sins can always be forgiven, but what cannot be forgiven is to call what is sin holy and what is holy sin ( this is blasphemy to the holy spirit). This sin cannot be forgiven because it cannot be repented of.

    That is why gay marriage can never be supported legally by catholics, because it is hateful thing towards those tempted with homosexual desires to ‘normalize’ their sins and make it much more difficult for them to ever escape them.

  6. John says:

    The Most Revered Archbishop of New York,

    I am a gay person raised in the Holy Roman Catholic Church with two devout, Catholic parents. As a raised-Catholic, I recognize the enormous contributions of the Church to social welfare and to the dignity of the poor and needy, the disheartened, and the sick. That is why it is so painful for me to see the Church and His Excellency continue the corruption of the Church’s moral authority which has caused permanent, irreversible damage to the Roman Catholic Church in the eyes of many Americans, particularly Catholic Americans. People are leaving the Church at what, to His Excellency, should be alarming rates, not because they have been corrupted or bedeviled by a modern society but because they have weighed the intense ethical upbringing of their Catholic childhoods against the Church today, and are forced to come to many conclusions, including, as I have, that the Roman Catholic Church in a Quixotic and illogical way denies basic human dignity to gay men and women, even as other inspired religious groups recognize enough love in their Communion for everyone.

    My father and I were able to celebrate an intimate Father’s Day, because we have managed, through a painful process of reconciliation which took years, to look beyond Church teaching into each other’s souls as men of morality and love. But the Church gives us a template which casts a part of myself which I neither asked for nor control (I know this, because through the larger call of the Church I went under repulsion therapy to attempt to rid myself of my “gay”-ness) and casts that aspect of my humanity, through the Catechism, political activism, and teaching, as not only evil but “disordered.” I found your Father’s Day message, although good-intentioned, to be nothing short of wicked to the Catholic families with gay members which cannot celebrate Father’s Day because the Church has torn them apart.
    In an age where, through divorce, heterosexuals – not homosexuals – have brought the institution of marriage to its heels – what is the sense in denying the entry of a persecuted group to a legal and spiritual framework within which they may express the very values of love, fidelity, and family which the Church seeks to support and preserve? Instead of building stable families in supportive environments, does God wish gays to become Priests, cave psychologically under the ridiculous concept of celibacy, and begin to molest children at as many Parishes as the Church ordains?

    Gay people are asking for basic human dignity, which includes a recognition of the validity of the love demonstrated by so many gay women and men in committed relationships, and the American people are going to give it to them. If I am married, in a stable home with steady income and a nurturing environment, my husband and I might decide to adopt many of the thousands of children around the world in desperate need of a home. If we do I guarantee you that I will be a more loving Father to my children than you are being today. My children will grow up with the moral and ethical system, grounded in love and respecting the dignity of all peoples, which the Catholic Church has painfully failed to reach. If God is love, why does he not love me?

  7. Tom Baum says:

    You commented to, “Catholics, by a large majority, support same-sex marriage.”

    By saying, “This statement is not true since The Catholic Church does not support same-sex marriage and in order to be Catholic, one must be in communion with The Catholic Church. One cannot be autonomous and in communion, simultaneously.”

    This may be off topic but would you consider Jesus not to be a Jew since He wasn’t in lock step with the Jewish religious leaders of His day?

    Aren’t we suppose to follow God?

    Didn’t Jesus say that He would “send the Holy Spirit to guide…”, He didn’t say theologians or Bishops or Priests but the Holy Spirit and He did not say that He was just going to send the Holy Spirit to the “higher-ups”, did He?

    None of us can tell anyone else how they should follow God, that should be between them and God, your way can be good for you but that doesn’t mean that it is good for others, as the present Pope has said, “It is the duty of a Catholic to follow their conscience”, even if he hadn’t said this, it was Jesus Who extended the invitation to “Come follow Me”, not the Church, not the bible, not Peter or any successors but to follow Jesus.

  8. William Mannion says:

    The statement that the homosexual agenda is to recruit the youth is a canard which has no evidence to support it. Unfortunately, there is more than adequate evidence of priests molesting youths yet the leadership of the Catholic Church continues to drag its feet on disclosing what was known and what action was taken.

    As a lifelong Catholic, I remain convinced that marriage equality should be legal. Archbishop Dolan’s statements are those of one individual and are not infallible. If Catholics did not speak up and question the leadership of the Church, many wrongs would be continued. I am not suggesting the leadership is always wrong, or even wrong the majority of the time; however, after significant study and prayerful reflection, it is clear to me that the Church leadership is wrong on the issue of marriage equality.

    It is notable that the pro-equality individuals are just asking for the right to the civil institution of marriage; a number of the anti-equality individuals are posting hateful statements which are untrue. Love the neighbor?

  9. Steve S says:

    I am ashamed to be a Catholic more than ever, I went to catholic school all my life from pre-school to high school and Catholicism is about inclusion and not exclusion, we were taught to love and be compassionate – I do not see it in this issue, where is it? Where is love? Where is equality to all and not some? Who are we to dictate whom to love and spend the rest of our lives together.

  10. Christopher Lamparello says:

    Nancy, most, if not all of the people of any given religious faith, Catholics included, do not agree with everything that their church teaches. I have always been proud of the Catholic laity’s dedication to social justice; that should extend to same-sex couples, as well. The church is free to express its ideals, but I can assure you that they are only ideals. We all fall short of those ideals, including the very leaders of the church.

    If you were to eliminate every Catholic who does not agree with, or does not practice, everything that the church teaches, the churches would be empty. When someone enters into a Catholic church, they should be welcomed as human beings, not as saints, because none of us are.

    Gays and lesbians have always been a part of the Catholic church, and an active, vibrant part at that. The time has come for marriage equality.

  11. Steven says:

    Dear Governor Cuomo,
    Let me first express that I respect your office, and I also respect you as a brother. I do not know your thoughts, and I do not know why you do what you do. I also do not know the stress and responsibility that comes with being a man responsible for a State and many citizens. I do, however, know loss. I have suffered a great loss in this life. I know sin as well. I realize God is truly all I have in this world and all I need. I also realize I do not live as I should, and I need God every day to guide me along the right path. A relationship with God is what I desire most. I imagine you now have an inclination as you read this; you are forming a picture of me. I cannot stop you or your staffer from doing so. I am a Christian. By God’s grace I have been saved. Jesus Christ died on a cross to save me, and you. You can discount what I say, taking the approach that you, as a politician, make your decisions based on the law. The First Amendment and other principles of law and governance direct you to lead a diverse populace based on purely secular grounds. Though this is untrue, since you as a leader are free to act according to your conscience so long as you obey the Rule of Law? So how does it violate the Rule of Law to oppose “Gay Marriage”?
    I really would like to know ultimately what you stand for? Honestly, I googled your name and looked at Wikipedia. I am being honest, I know that is not a great research technique, but it is what I did. It said you are Catholic. Is this true? If so, what does it mean to you to be Catholic? Does it impact how you govern New York? Is men marrying men and women marrying women in accordance with your understanding of Scripture? Is it a positive example for this country? Should children be raised by a mother and a father? Should children grow up in a society where leaders sanction men marrying men and women marrying women? Are you unwilling to make a political decision based on your convictions, or are your convictions opposite Scripture? Is there no relevance to the difference of our sexes? Why must I go into a men’s restroom instead of a women’s restroom? Why is my anatomy what it is and her’s what it is? Is there no point in this? You, I imagine, view marriage as a right for all. But is it a denial of equality to uphold marriage between men and women only? Is there no relevance in the sexes anymore to you? Do you deny the differences? Do you deny what you see? Do you deny how you were created to join with a women? Do you read Scripture? Do you even care? Do you approve when a man burns with lust for another man? Do you approve when a women burns in lust for another women? Do you approve when both act on their lusts for one another? And if you disapprove, why do you seek to sanction such conduct with marriage? Is marriage sacred to you? Do you know what Jesus said about marriage? I understand the Supreme Court has ruled consensual sexual activity among adults protected (TX v. Johnson), but why do you seek to go further. What do you gain? I could change everything I write easily by typing different keys. I could be loved by so many if I just say: “Marriage is a right for all. If two adults love each other, they have a right to be married and have their marriage recognized by the law, incurring all the benefits of such recognition. You cannot force your personal opinions on others. You can have them but you cannot discriminate.” It would be so easy. I would be progressive. I would not be thought of as an ignorant man that seeks to discriminate. But it is in fact harder for me, because I am no longer lukewarm.
    God is love. I want you and every person to do what God desires. I cannot deny what God has placed in my heart by his word. I judge no man or woman. I do not. I have engaged in enough sin to last a lifetime, and I know I cannot stop sinning. The sin of homosexuality is no worse than my sins, not at all. I have a log in my eye. I do not deny it. I am not seeking to condemn you, I seek only to call you to God. By God’s grace I have been saved. By God’s grace I am becoming more Christlike each day. Do you seek after him? He wants you to! No matter how great of a governor you are, no matter how much worldly knowledge you have, no matter how much you accomplish, no matter, no matter, it will not last forever. We all have a very brief period of time on earth. If we live to be 100, what have we gained if we have turned from God? It is so hard to live as such. I admit, I must do better. I pray for you Sir. Pray for me also. We will pray for each other and God will hear us.
    Since marriage is a union between a man and woman, it is not discrimination to prevent men from marrying men and women from marrying women. You Sir may change the meaning of the word in this State, but you cannot change God’s word. God was is and always will be. If you choose not even to attempt to live by God’s word – as demonstrated by your thoughtful, calculated actions in seeking to legalize “gay marriage,” than be a hypocrite no more.
    GOD Bless America and New York.

  12. Tom Baum says:

    Barbara B wrote, “Nancy is exactly right. There are plenty of blogs where many of you will find like minds, why not go there? Some of the posts are extremely offensive and just plain untrue.”

    I thought that blogs were for exchanging ideas and speaking what one believes/knows, not for a bunch of “yes-men”, as it were.

    If you remember, Jesus had some “discussions” with the religious leaders of His day, did He not?

    As someone else on this site pointed out they have let some differing opinions on the subject be let thru and I think that that is good, of course, it appears that the remarks I attempted to put up earlier were not allowed.

  13. Toby Grace says:

    Having read through this thread today, when the issue of marriage equality is forefront in Albany, I note the comments of those in support of equality are largely fact-based and logical, while those opposed rely on tenuous “belief” amorphous tradition and once-popular stereotypes. The Archbishop writes he can find no “right” for same-sex marriage in the constitution. Neither is there mentioned a “right” to opposite sex marriage so that point is nugatory. A number of posters call upon the name of Jesus and his teachings. In fact Jesus made no mention of homosexuality. One would think that if it as such a terrible thing, he’d have at least mentioned it once. Nancy D. refers to gay sex as demeaning. Demeaning to whom? No one is suggesting she engage in such behavior so she is not being demeaned. Those whose inclination is in that direction are being satisfied, not demeaned. Conversely, to be denied their (our) true nature would be intensely demeaning. The comment above about recruiting your children is too absurd and blatantly ignorant to bother refuting. Now let me get to the main point of my argument – I am neither a Catholic nor a Christian so WHY ON EARTH should I be governed by your theology as a matter of law? Run your own lives according to your beliefs by all means but do not expect those beliefs to be the law of the land. The religion I practice welcomes same-sex couples and blesses their unions. Where is my religious liberty if Catholic norms are to be imposed by law? In closing, I wonder if the Archbishop actually reads these comments. I hope so. Perhaps he will understand that a vague expression of “love” is a very poor substitute for equality in civil rights.

  14. Alison says:

    Thank you for such a courageous post Archbishop Dolan!

  15. Steven says:

    @ Toby Grace says:
    June 23, 2011 at 11:32 am
    Dear Toby, You should read the Gospel of Matthew, particularly Chapter 19. You should also read Romans, particularly Chapter 1. I fully admit, I need to do much better reading God’s word, so I do not claim to be an expert that is able to quickly provide all references to discount your assertion, but these Chapters came to my mind when I read what you wrote.
    In regard to your legal point, I would like to make the following points. They are very simple because I do not want to get embroiled in a long-winded constitutional law argument, though I think the free exercise clause supports my argument and the establishment clause does not destroy it.
    A Christian voter has the right to vote. A Christian can vote into office a Christian politician. The Christian politician has a right to vote based or her or his convictions. A Christian voter has the right to ask and try to persuade the Christian politician to vote a certain way. A law is not unconstitutional because it is based on someone’s faith; in fact, that is part of the political/legislative process. If you think a law is wrong or should be held unconstitutional because it is based on someone’s faith, consider your own statement. “The religion I practice welcomes same-sex couples and blesses their unions.” Have you just broken your own rule, or are you willing to disavow the relationship between “your religion” and “gay marriage”?
    More importantly, you referred to: “[A] vague expression of ‘love’ is a very poor substitute for equality in civil rights.” God’s love is not vague or a poor substitute for anything. It is all and everything we need. God gave his own Son while we were still sinners as a sacrifice to save us. Jesus was the Lamb of God. We have all sinned against God. His response to our wickedness was to give his own Son to save us. Do you give what you love most to the man that has wronged you? Can you? God is holy. He knows all. He is everywhere. He is all powerful. Can you fathom standing before him in judgment? He gave you life. He gave you everything good in this world. He gave to you without requirement to do so. He chose YOU to be born. He could have created anyone or anything, but he chose to create YOU. He gave his own Son to save you, and you turn against him. And yet he waits patiently to welcome you back. The grace of God is great beyond our human capacity to fathom. I pray you cry out to God. He will hear you. And yes, he loves you very much!
    @John says:
    June 22, 2011 at 11:17 am
    Dear John,
    God loves you! What you experience I will not belittle with some weak attempt to say I understand. I do not carry your burden or live a single day in your life? Though, you are not alone. We can help each other still in prayer. My burden feels heavy too, though different, and others who talk to me, I do not want to listen to them because I know their burden is not the same as mine. We must turn away from our human nature. God loves us but he hates sin.
    Paul was a man of God and still he had a thorn in his flesh.
    2 Corinthians 7:10
    Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    The thorn was not removed from Paul’s flesh while on Earth, for it was serving a purpose. If God wanted it removed it would be removed instantly but there was something more to it, which Paul accepted and maybe even more to it than he realized. But the joy of heaven, if we keep the faith, if we run toward Jesus, how great the reward will be when God removes all our thorns. Unfortunately, I have more than just one, so I can’t wait!
    I do not for one second think I am better than anyone who posted anything. That I deal with more, know more or suffer more. To the contrary, I am scared to think that I am the worst of our lot, very upsetting to God often (but his grace is sufficient and overcomes), and the most stiffed-necked despite countless blessings. But what I do know, and all I need to know is this: I need God; Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savoir; and the Holy Spirit helps me in every way to sing out to God in everything I do even though I have a voice worse than the most terrible American Idol wannabe. If that makes me a fool amongst intellectuals and today’s progressive, successful person, I hope tomorrow I will be stupider than I was today.
    God Bless You All.

  16. Will says:

    To those who, like me, have left the church (because, you know, adulthood) we should stop making a case–for those still in but with whom we disagree–regarding what the church “should” be or “should” become. Much better to wash one’s hands of its many self-serving social positions and move on. If there is a God, he is a much more complex being (one hopes) than the bizarre, prudish entity the Church has harvested from the holy books. If there isn’t, well, this is all a bit moot, isn’t it? In any case, if we live life granting dignity to others and divest ourselves of unwarranted fear, my guess is we’ll all arrive at the edge of the beyond with clear consciences.

    Happy belated Father’s day, fathers (and glad tidings, implied mothers).

  17. GG says:

    “Gay people are asking for basic human dignity, which includes a recognition of the validity of the love demonstrated by so many gay women and men in committed relationships” (by John)

    Apologies for my poor english.

    Recognition BY WHOM? I am married and, in principle, I need NO recognition by the state. I could not care less about this. There are just two reasons for asking the state to recognize marriage, namely:

    1) economic benefits for children
    2) rights in case of divorce.

    As for point 1), in my country being married is in fact a problem: people who do not marry have HIGHER incomes from the state for their children. In fact, many couples do not marry or pretend to divorce exactly for this reason. As for item 2), a private but formal agreement has more or less the same effects.

    Therefore, in my view, it is time for catholics to ask the state NOT to recognize their marriage, which is a sacrament and needs no other recognition. We do not need any piece of paper. Let gay people, or anybody else wanting them, have the papers: they are useless. In fact, in countries in which gay “marriage” is acknowledged, the number of gay couples interested in it is astonishingly small. We are then talking about a symbol: well, let them use the symbol, and let us behave in a completely different way, as christian ever did.

    This would be in my view a strong signal in front of these sad, but just symbolic, facts.

  18. Patrick Sullivan says:

    Most Reverend Archbishop Dolan:
    It is time that we face reality; the Catholic church does not rule America. We can set the rules for our church but we can not dictate morals for citizens who are not members of our church.
    Our elected legislators in Albany did not rule that Catholics must bless homosexual marriages. Nor did they say that we must open our cathedrals for their ceremonies.
    Albany is not America’s Vatican and you are not our Pope.
    Please let us focus on the problems within our church and let God deal with those outside of the Church.