Some Afterthoughts

Almost two weeks ago — hauntingly, on the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, whom King Herod would behead because the saint dared to defend the God-given truth about marriage — our state sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage.  Is there anything left to say?


For one, thanks to those courageous millions who valiantly fought this unfortunate project of social engineering.  You can hold your heads high.  Sanely, civilly, thoughtfully, vigorously . . . you did not cave-in.  The forces on the other side were a Goliath indeed — with tons of money, “glitterati” from entertainment circles, political powerbrokers, and the media — but you proved a worthy David.

You will understand my special word of gratitude to people of faith — evangelicals, Mennonites, Jews, Moslem, Catholics, Amish, and so many more, led often by African-American and Latino believers — who simply believe that marriage is a given, at the very foundation of civilization, which the state has the duty to defend and protect, not to mutate.

My brother bishops of New York were particularly prophetic.  When I arrived here a little over two-years ago, they told me realistically that we faced a looming battle over the defense of marriage.  They advised me that the odds were not in our favor, and that some experts were even suggesting that we give-in and not put up a fight.

But they were also resolute in their conviction that such would have been a dereliction of duty.  As Blessed John Paul II often commented, the Church is “counter-cultural,” like Jesus, often at odds with what passes as chic, enlightened, and progressive.  In their writings, sermons, personal lobbying, interviews, and our common statements — backed up by indefatigable efforts by our New York State Catholic Conference, bolstered by ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation, and, especially, supported by countless thousands of our faithful Catholic people (one legislator told me he received 47,000 e-mails against the measure from the Catholic Advocacy Network) — the bishops were on the frontiers.  We have been bloodied, and bruised, and, yes, for the moment, we have been defeated.  But, we’re used to that.  So was the Founder of our Church.

Two, the Church neither has nor wants political “clout.”   As Cardinal John O’Connor commented, “The only ‘clout’ the Church really has is God’s Truth, the assurance of His grace, and the simple yet sincere conviction of our people.”  Blessed John Paul II again reminds us that “The Church never imposes, she only proposes.”  And as our current Holy Father has often observed, all the Church wants is its freedom to serve humanity by bringing the light of the gospel to the world.

But, three, we do worry indeed about this freedom of religion.  Editorials already call for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty, with crusaders calling for people of faith to be coerced to acceptance of this redefinition.  If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.

Four, the real forces of “intolerance” were unmasked here.  The caricature, of course, is that those defending traditional marriage were the right-wing bigots and bullies.  However, as one out-of-state journalist, who was following the debate closely, commented to me, “From my read of the columns, blogs, and rhetoric, it’s not your side that’s lobbing the grenades.”  A Catholic who wrote to criticize me for my defense of marriage still conceded, “But I must confess that I am sickened by the amount of anti-Catholic venom that has surfaced in this debate.”  As one respected columnist has observed, the problem is not homophobia but theophobia — a hatred by some of God, faith, religion, and the Church.

Five, though, if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay.  But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, “Yes:  I love you.  Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being.  I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message.  If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.

Point six, the Church has always stood-up for marriage — one man and one woman, united in lifelong and faithful love, leading to new life in children – whenever and wherever it was in danger.  Veterans my age and over can remember sixty years ago when we fought widespread, no-fault divorce, convinced it would lead to a cheapening of the marriage bond and harm our kids (as, of course, scholarly studies now report has, indeed, happened).  Recall how the Church resisted the “contraceptive mentality,” fearing it would rupture the sacred bond between love and the procreation of children.  Then, remember how the Church sounded the alarm over rising rates of promiscuity, adultery, pre-marital sex, and cohabitation prior to or instead of marriage.  And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity.  If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called “nonmonogamy.” Apparently, “nonmonogamy” is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!

Let me say it again. None of this is anti-anybody, but simply pro marriage.

(By the way, as Professor Robert George at Princeton University eloquently points out, in warning about promiscuity, divorce, cohabitation instead of marriage, adultery, and “same-sex marriage,” the Church is hardly some shrill, bitter, reactionary, naysaying prude, but actually prophetically right-on-target.  Recent studies by people such as Myron Magnet and Kay Hymowitz show that the weakening of stable marriage and families is the cause of most social and cultural woes, especially burdensome on poor women and children.)

Finally, last point, for us in the Church, not much changes.  We continue to hold fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality.  Yes, we have a big catechetical challenge, in that we have to admit that quite a few people no longer hold to this timeless moral truth.  (Although I still believe most people do; thus the fear of a referendum on the issue by those who still claim this is a “grassroots movement” sweeping the nation.)  Yes, we do have our work cut out for us, as even some Catholics, and, scandalously, even political leaders who claim to be Catholic, tell us the Church is “out of it,” and has no claim on truth.

So, we try our best to witness to the truth, encouraging our married couples and their kids to be loving, radiant, “lights to the world.”  We acknowledge that, as St. Augustine taught, if something is wrong, even if everybody else is doing it, it’s still wrong; and, if something is right, even if nobody else is doing it anymore, it’s still right.  Like St. Thomas More, we’re willing to take the heat and even lose our head from following a conscience properly formed by God’s revelation and the teaching of His Church, even if it is politically incorrect, and clashes with the King’s demands to re-define marriage.

176 Responses to “Some Afterthoughts”

  1. Brad Miner says:

    Believing with the other commenters that you did the right thing, I must add this caveat: Until renegade Catholics such as Andrew Cuomo are refused Communion, it will seem to too many Catholics that holding the positions he holds and, because of his “bully pulpit,” aggressively opposing Church teaching really has no consequence. And it would be one thing if one were right is thinking, Well, Mr. Cuomo will one day bring his very public sins before the ultimate Judge, one might put aside concern for the Body of Christ and just pray for Mr. Cuomo’s soul. But the scandal of his actions (and he’s just the latest public Catholic to give such scandal) is like a virus that infects others. If the governor may have a mistress, support abortion and same-sex marriage, and still receive Communion, too many others will come to accept that the bar has been lowered for everybody.

  2. Anselmo says:

    If the church were truly for marriage then it would be supportive of marraige for all God’s children. Jesus himself never said anything about homosexuality and many of the books attributed to Paul are in doubt on who actually wrote them.

    Besides the Church is protected by the First Amendment and by the provisions in the bill recently passed by the State. Please provide proof where any church of any stripe in America has been sued for not performing or recognizing same sex marriages.

  3. Jessica says:

    You are correct Bishop Dolan when you say not much changes in the Catholic Church. The popes still preach that the Jews killed Jesus and until 1945 were still killing Jews for killing Jesus. Catholics believing the bible is the inherent word of your god also believe in slavery, because that is all over your bible. Some Catholics probably still believe that the moon emits its own source of light even though you do finally believe that the earth is flat and does revolve around the sun. Catholics also believe that only Catholics are going to heaven and everyone else is going to hell.

    You also believe that legal marriage rights are the same as holy matrimony wedding rites. You also believe that only the people you agree with, approve of, accept, respect, tolerate and understand should have any rights in America. You believe women who abort fetuses should be killed because you do not agree with their right to reproductive right.

    You also believe in the Final Leviticus Sodom & Gomorrah Solution to the Homosexual Problem, as not much has changed in the Catholic Church in 2011 years. You believe that anyone who you don’t approve of, who you declare heretic, should be arrested, stoned to death and set on fire.

    Yes you are right, Bishop Dolan, not much has changed since Catholics killed Jews in the first century of the common era and now want to kill gays in the 2011 year of the common era.Of course all done in Jesus’ name.

  4. Steve R says:

    ” If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.”

    Proofs, please. And from the US.

    The vague sky is falling fears don’t really cut it. Often timis they’re gossip or there are other things involved. As far as one man, ine woman, I guess you haven’t looked at the divorce rate in this country.

    Also, it would be much better for the Church to put its own house in order after giving itself such a black eye with the priest abuse scandal; a house cleaning comparable to the Counter-Reformation. Better to stand on a real moral high ground after the cleansing than to be standing on a pebble in Death Valley now.

  5. Jake Kach Khan says:

    Sir, no matter how many words you write, the essence of your blog is that you are intolerant of others who do not share your antiquated views. Marriage. like evolution, will take us to places not yet experienced. It moves forward to include all people, whether you like it or not.
    Why don’t you work towards the equality of all peoples of the world, not just the ones you pick to support your bigotry? Good luck: with your churches views, you will all become relics of the past.

  6. Nicodemos says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    Please don’t confuse your failure to convince New Yorkers of the validity of your position with ‘theophobia’. Many Christian faith communities (as well as Jewish) support marriage equality. One of the benefits of civil society is its comprehension of difference. If some see your rhetoric as gay-hating and transfer that hatred to the community you represent, you might want to reflect on the unintended consequences of the words you’re choosing and change them.

    Be well during what seems to be a difficult time for you and take comfort in the words of St. John of the Cross: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”


  7. Brian Cook says:

    Unfortunately, your excellency, there are are many issues.

    There are an awful lot of self-styled defenders of marriage who do throw grenades all around. I’ve seen a lot of expose’s on the ‘net detailing just how virulently hateful and cruel and dishonest they really are.

    One reason why same-sex marriages are compared to interracial marriages is that there are still quite a few people out there who claim to be simple defenders of timeless truths of racial integrity or “human biodiversity”. They see themselves as Davids fighting mongrel Goliaths. I don’t know if any public Catholic voice has ever directly address that fact. I’ve tried to ring the steeple bell over right-wing extremism in other forums, but almost always hooted down as if I was a persecutor. Being politically incorrect or counter-cultural is not the same as being a courageous Christian–it rarely is.

    Also, I still hope that you can address the specific criticisms that commenters have brought before you, such as the apparent lack of continuity in human culture regarding marriage. They point out how marriage has been viewed differently in human cultures, such as the custom of handing over women as property.

    The Catholic Church is routinely accused of social engineering. That Church is accused of keeping people in poverty and disease and ignorance. The Church is accused of silencing all disagreement. The Church is accused of encouraging elimination and suicide. The Church is accused of propping up propaganda.

    The reason why I’ve posted these comments is that I truly want to help you. That is the same reason for mailing a couple of printed letters. I truly hope that you do well in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

  8. Soo says:

    Because of the Church’s position on gay marriage (and a few other issues) I am no longer Catholic, nor will I raise my children in the Church. I firmly believe in my bones that the Church’s separatist position is nothing Jesus would want. I find this a terrible tragedy, and I have to wonder, just how many people are actually joining the Church because of its position on the gay marriage issue? I wonder because I know a heck of a lot who have left.

  9. Ken says:

    Lying to your followers to keep them in a constant state of fear has been the modus operandi of the Catholic Church for centuries. Just keep in mind that less impressionable people are also watching and listening to you very closely and will hold you accountable for the lies you tell in public – you know – like when you’re engaging in tax-free political activity. Your suggestion that people will be “hauled into court” for their beliefs is absurd fear mongering. I do have to wonder though, where in the Constitution does one find the language guaranteeing the right to live in a country free from anything and everything that is inconsistent with one’s religious beliefs? I’ve searched and searched and couldn’t find so much as a hint at that concept.

  10. Larry says:

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Your Excellence. I have been waiting forty years for such a ringing, “tell-it-like-it-is” statement from the American hierarchy. You have not only described the problem, you have identified the root of the chaos: contraception. The time has come to point out one critical fact: the teaching against contraception is not a precept of the Catholic Church, as is, say, the requirement to attend mass on Sundays. It is in fact the universal and eternal moral law of God, binding on all human beings the world over at all times in humanity’s history. As such, it is not only dangerous to a person’s soul, but is deadly to the future of the human race itself, as shown within communities where contraception is widely practiced. All over the western world, birth rates have dropped below the self-sustenance levels, causing perilous demographic swings. The stability of marriage is shattered. Increasingly, children who make it safely out of the womb are being betrayed by parents unfaithful to their vows. Now we have to consider taking things to the next level. Do you not believe, Your Excellence, that the time may have come to invoke ecclesial penalties against Catholics who have publicly advanced, and continue to advance the immoral agenda? Powerful words are needed, but are they in themselves enough?

  11. Mark says:

    “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Civil marriage is Caesar’s. The sacrament of matrimony is God’s. It is valid only when invoked between a baptized man and a baptized woman, in the presence of two witnesses and the spouses’ proper ordinary or pastor or his delegate. Caesar has no say in this.

    What arguably could devalue the natural union of man and woman more than the fact that, in all 50 states, through no-fault divorces, any heterosexual spouse can walk away from the other, basically by filing an affidavit alleging that the marital bond is “irretrievably broken”?

    To parents of a gay child, the idea that a group of men can claim to know the mind of God so perfectly that they can proclaim with unyielding certainty that God deems a significant portion of creation “disordered” is absurd.

  12. Christian Cooper says:

    Your analysis that “the church proposes, not imposes,” is factually incorrect. Your church, as ever, is free to preach what it likes. However, in seeking to use *government* to block same-sex marriage, you seek to impose your religious values on others. That is unacceptable, and a grave moral sin.

  13. Dorothy Amorella says:

    Unfortunately, those ‘supporters’ you spoke of, the evangelicals, the mennonites, jews, muslims, amish, have all compromised the true meaning of marriage by their acceptance of divorce (with remarriage) and in some cases adultery and/or polygamy. And I do not think you have to apologize to anyone for seeming to be ‘anti-gay’. The truth is always going to ‘offend’ those not living in conformity with it. True freedom is living in conformity to the Truth and everything else is slavery.

  14. David Hart says:

    Regarding marriage equality, the Archbishop is entitled to his opinion. I(n spite of apparent eloquence, the Archbishop has yet to voice a cogent argument that advances the notion that marriage equality has any negative effects on traditional marriage. That is certainly not the experience in Massachusetts. Now, after the fact, he would offer the slippery slope as a rationale? Ultimately, we are supposed to oppose marriage equality because Archbishop Dolan doesn’t like it which is intellectual mediocrity per so.

    To suggest that the Church does not have political clout is so profoundly disingenuous as to be laughable. In an odd way Archbishop Dolan has confirmed something that many of us already know. The Church should not be involved in politics. If nothing else that enterprise is antithetical to the US Constitution.

    Even more disingenuous is to suggest that opposing equality isn’t “anti” anything. Yet NOM, largely financed by organizations affiliated with the Church, has opposed marriage equality with the meme that gays are a threat to children. That is sheer bigotry which neither the Church nor Archbishop Dolan have opposed. Where is the Archbishop’s essay rebuking Robert George for claiming that Kevin Jennings threatens the “innocence” of children? I think that we all know what that means.

    I don’t know if Dolan speaks for NOM or if NOM speaks for Dolan. However, if either prefers not to be associated with bigotry I have a simple suggestion; Stop doing bigoted things.

  15. Rich says:

    Marriage is not the foundation of civilization, civility is.

    I don’t believe the legislation coerces any religious organization to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. So, please show a little tolerance, lead by example and ease up on the slippery-slope arguments.

  16. John Deuel says:

    Your Excellency,

    It saddens me to see that you continue your campaign of misinformation regarding this issue.

    As you are aware, claiming that monogamous heterosexual marriage is a “timeless truth” denies the accounts of King David’s 6 wives, King Solomon’s 700 wives, his son Rehoboam’s 18 wives, everybody’s concubines and numerous other examples of polygamy in the Bible. More importantly, it denies much more modern and reliable history where marriage, blessed by the Roman Catholic Church, has been principally a property transaction and/or a political treaty (see Western Civilization up until the late 1800s). Monogamous heterosexual marriages based on love are recent *innovations* of western society and are still not the norm in many cultures and civilizations. Marriage has been, until recently, about breeding farms and property contracts.

    Like you, I believe marriage is one of the most amazing gifts God has given us. I shudder to think of how long it has taken humanity to realize that the unconditionally loving, committed partnership that we now call marriage is indeed the crucible for our greatest selflessness. Sadly, too often is the term marriage used to describe the temporary agreement two modern people make to stay together until one or the other decides to leave. Too often is this a matter of mere months later.

    I believe in the sanctity of marriage and its role in the stability of society and in bringing the love of God further into our world. I believe that God blesses the healthy, loving marriages of gay people. To deny this is dishonest and the fact that you must deliberately mislead people to convince them that you are right is proof.

    People do not hate God. They rightfully despise the acts of evil done in God’s name. They rail against the institutions that propose those acts of evil. Centuries passed between the evils of the Crusades and Pope John Paul II finally asking for forgiveness. People decried the incorrect actions of the Church then, and we do it again now. We should do it politely and without resorting to ad hominem, but not everyone can remain calm, cool and collected in the face of such wrong.

    Lastly, I suspect that you know people like me and my husband of 20 years. Like most bishops, you travel widely in your diocese and have experienced the obvious fruits of the Spirit manifest in two souls knit as one, be they gay or straight. You have seen us preach the gospel. You have seen us quietly ministering to the needs of our neighbors. You have seen us drawing strength from the blessings of our relationships. This is the strength needed to clothe the naked, tend the sick and visit the prisons. Someday, soon, I hope you are able to find the strength to give honest witness to this. It will cost you greatly in this world, but your treasure is not here in this world, is it? I hope that your other commenters respond to you will respect and love, and I hope you read all of the comments and prayerfully reflect on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I shall hold you in my prayers. In Love,

  17. Patrick says:

    1. Your David and Goliath metaphor cannot be serious, can it? The RCC is the David here??? With trillions of dollars and millions of followers and thousands of paid prelates? You have the analogy BACKWARDS.

    2. You are wrong – It is not the State’s duty to protect and defend your religion’s views of a social, civil institution like marriage. It is the State’s duty to protect and defend the rights of its citizens. Thousands of those citizens who love each other will now marry each other. MYOB.

    3. I cannot believe that you are comparing yourself to GOD in your fifth paragraph. Where is your humility??? Moreover, you are comparing yourself to God when he was innocently “bloodied, bruised and beaten.” Shameful. And probably sinful to boot!

    4. Your statement about political clout is laughable. You must think that we are the most naive, uneducated and ill-read Catholics that God ever blew breath into.

    5. The parade of horribles that you envision will not occur. Have faith.

    6. Theophobia? You are really determined to cloak yourself in the mantle of the victim here, aren’t you? Seriously? Theophobia? I don’t think we need a nationwide capaign to protect the rights of the millions of theists in this country.

    7. Your apology is hollow. And offensive, since you are determined to continue in your efforts vis-a-vis gay people. No apology is necessary. I assure you that no one wants to hear these words from you.

    8. “Poor women and children”???? I don’t know which is worse – that this is your FOURTH attempt in one post to take on some “victim imagery” to your advantage or that this sad and unsophisticated attempt to conflate 2 separate issues is so transaparent and beneath a person of reason. Ted and Steve marrying is “burdensome on poor women and children???????” No one believes that.

    Praying for you,


  18. Louis says:

    The state has an interest in protecting opposite-sex relationships and their normative status,not in preventing their consensual dissolution.There is no state interest whatsoever in accommodating same-sex sexual relationships.

    Divorce should remain legal and same-sex \marriage\ should not.

    (I am not religious).

  19. Michael says:

    It’s hard to take seriously the claim that the church is the victim of “theophobia” here, when at least 88% of Americans believe in God, and 86% of Americans belong to an organized religion, according to the Pew Forum on Religious and Political Life.

    Would that we lousy <12% of nontheist Americans had enough power to keep religion out of government, but we don't. So when a state's citizens and politicians decide to extend civil rights to gays, you can't blame it on the 12%, but rather some portion of the 88% that came to the realization that they don't need to impose their own religious beliefs on others.

  20. candide001 says:

    It’s a good thing most American Catholics have the wisdom and depth of soul to reject your absurd and demeaning teachings about homosexuality. It’s your Church that is intrinsically disordered, not the sexuality of gays and lesbians. Instead of indulging in irrational fear-mongering you need to try to pray away your antigay bigotry. Love the Catholic, but hate the Catholicism.

  21. Michele Mulholland France says:

    Archbishop Dolan,

    The beauty of our great nation is that you are entitled to your opinion, and to the exercise of free speech. You are not entitled to establish religion. We enjoy a separation of that here from the civil realm.

    As a proud American, I am appalled that the Roman Catholic Church is spending her time and resources to ruthlessly suppress American civil liberties. I refer you to the 14th Amendment of our great U.S. Constitution, particularly the equal protection clause.

    Children are starving, homeless, hopeless in this great nation. If you profess to live Jesus, then do what he asked. I refer you to the Sermon of the Mount first.

    You and your fellow men of the cloth are mistaken. There are millions of “cradle Catholics” like myself who no longer believe in what you say. The culture of CYO et al is holding us by a whisper – but as you crassly over play your hand – we rise. We rise. We walk down the aisle and we stop giving you pence. Know this Sir. Your time is coming to a close. The time of bended knee and suffering servants is over. We are paying attention as Americans first and we are not pleased by what we see.

    There is much work to do as people of faith – I ask each faithful Catholic to look well within your hearts. How exactly does giving your neighbor, your niece, your co-worker the security of equality and full civil rights affect your marriage? It doesn’t. Shame on you Archbishop Dolan. Shame. May God help you find the wisdom to reconsider and the courage to set a new course.

  22. Pete says:

    “the Church has always stood-up for marriage — one man and one woman, united in lifelong and faithful love”

    the Bible acknowledged and condoned polygamy (King David) and incest (Lot and his daughters). are you saying then that you are picking and choosing what part of the Bible you want to believe or enforce? so what Man says is now more important than what God says? how typical of the RCC.

  23. Irene says:

    “1) What would be your response to Ed Peters seemingly good argument that Catholic politicians (especially Gov. Cuomo) should be denied communion. Will the Church do something?”

    My own response is that democratically elected legislators have an obligation to carry out the will of the people they represent. If carrying out the will of their constituents poses a conflict for Catholic legislators, I think the appropriate thing to do would be for those legislators to resign from public office. But I don’t think it is a good thing for American Catholics to not be represented in Congress; for that reason alone, I would suggest restraint in threatening excommunication to legislators for voting the way their constituents want them to.

    As a Catholic voter, if you don’t like Governor Cuomo, don’t vote for him. (I didn’t)

  24. Yaakov Sullivan says:

    Your Excellency:
    You doth protest too much. Claiming you are not “anti” anybody is disingenuous. Any gay Catholic who wishes to maintain his/her sacramental ties to the Church will tell how how profound your “love” of the is. You should consider as well that your position, both political and theological, will prove as misguided as was the Church’s condemnation of Galileo. The recent sex abuse scandal by clergy in the Church and the multiple attempts by Church authorities to cover it up do not do much to put the Church in good moral standing or in a position where your moral rulings are credible. As for divorce and your claims of its negative impact on society, I have a question. What about the Catholic marriages where there has been no divorce but the family unit has suffered damage from abuse, neglect? What of those divorced couples where one or both of the parties have entered into successful second marriages providing the children with a stronger home life. Your strident political position speaks nothing of love or concern for gays. You have become nothing more than an institution of “nos”

  25. Ralph says:

    Your statement was well written and able to avoid the many negatives of the church concerning marriage. This is a very sensitive subject to me, my parents (father catholic and mother lutheran however both were white) and forced to be married at the city hall in 1938. Would you like to comment on the churches reaction to this mixed marriage or in the 50’s to racial mixed marriages not permitted to marry in the church. Perhaps you would like to explain the fact that my father’s family including my father were never permitted to set foot in the church my 5 brothers and 4 sisters were raised because of the catholic church. Perhaps you do not know that historically the church has changed or you may say evolved its stance and importance of marriage and changed the rules the church uses to approve of marriage. My parents never discussed religion in the home, they were to busy raising CHRISTIANS. The day I entered the military in 1971 my father gave me his rosary to keep me safe. As you should know, under the catholic church of which you are speaking my parents who were faithful and married in the eyes of GOD for over 50 years even today would not be married according to the church. REMEMBER JESUS SAID “LET HIM WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE”. I think we need to work on ourselves, strive to be more CHRISTIAN before casting any stones.

  26. Dave says:

    I love my Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Unitarian, Wiccan, agnostic and atheistic family and friends, all unquestioningly. I am pro-religion and agree that there are those who would argue inappropriately against religion.

    That said, you make a few points which I must contest. First, while it is true that dissolution of marriage is strongly correlated with a litany of social ills, there is no evidence in over 30 years of peer reviewed, published research and 10 years of real world experience among 300 million people and counting that allowing same-sex couples to receive civil recognition in any way decreases marriage rates, marriage longevity rates, birth rates, fidelity to partners, the well being of children, or any other measurable, observable phenomena. Indeed, despite years of trying, nobody has found a measurable difference between mixed-sex and same-sex couples, or the children thereof.

    As such, you are inappropriately employing red herrings.

    I will stand by you in staunchly opposing any attempt to impose non-Catholic beliefs upon the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations and its adherents. However, I also cannot abide pushing Catholic beliefs – valid only within the Catholic Church – upon non-Catholics without questioning the veracity of the claims.

  27. Tyler says:

    Doug, Andrew, David, John and Blake

    Doug – please don’t name call. By the way, if I am pro-apple does that mean I am anti-orange? No because oranges and apples are different just like marriage and being homosexual are different. Archbishop Dolan was pointing, in a indirect way, the language games that society has played on itself. On the other hand there are times when being “pro” something does imply an “anti” position such as being pro-abortion means one is anti-life. In this latter example, the subject matter “life” is the same for these two positions (Pro-abortion and anti-life) where as the subject matter for marriage and homosexuality is different by definition. For one, Archbishop was trying to say that he does not reduce the homosexual person down to their sexual actions. He respects the person. Even if you want to collapse homosexuality to the sex act, and argue that marriage is about the right to have sex there still exists an objective difference in the subject matter. Homosexual sex is about having sex with a person of the same sex whereas the marital sex act is about sex between people of opposite sex. No law will ever change the truth of this situation. It will only try to mask it with a lie.

    Regarding your complaint that Archbishop Dolan compared Catholics to David I will only say that Archbishop Dolan’s comparison is supported by the fact that this issue never went to a referendum.

    David and John and Blake – what would you tell Archbishop Dolan to say to polygamists who want polygamy to be recognized because they feel it is their right? (By the way, have you not heard of the website Ashley Madison?) I hope you gentleman will not be silent when pedophiles demand their rights – although all of you were curiously quiet on this issue. By the way, us Canadians, actually need your help on the issue of polygamy right now! In BC there is a group of polygamists that wants polygamy to be recognized under the law.

    See you in Canada gentlemen.

  28. Brent says:

    Distinction: Absolving something that is licit and good (while in fact it may be immoral in some cases) is different than promoting something that is always not good/evil. To equate the two, is to not be able to make this important distinction. Saying that divorce is equally immoral as homosexual marriage, assumes that divorce is a positive act. In fact, divorce is the dissolution of something good–same sex marriage is the creation of something not good. We can disagree about that statement but let’s not confuse the two notions. Fair?

  29. Steven Schwalbach says:

    No matter how the arguement is spun or how much the “progressives” share their “wisdom” The union of one woman and one man will always be the true meaning of marriage. It can be no other way because of God’s design of woman and man. To go against God’s wisdom is the height of arrogance.

    I also believe the issue would have been defeated if put to a referundum.

  30. Steve says:

    God loves and accepts all of his children. If you follow God, then you should as well.

  31. Mary Dillon says:

    (First read this on D. Cassidy’s blog. Posting my comments here too).

    Thanks for the post. Thank you to Archbishop Dolan for his statement. Agree with everything Archbishop Dolan said with exception to his statement about how the “Church stood up to contraception.” Yes, officially the Church stood up to contraception–we have so much here for which to thank Blessed John Paul II—but on the practical level a recent study shows the opposite of Archbishop Dolan’s words are true when it comes to reality about “Catholics and standing up to contraception.”

    Published in April by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) on contraceptive use by Catholic and Protestant women using data from the 2006-2008 National Survey on Family Growth, study findings showed:

    “98 % of Catholic women (of reproductive age 15-44) have used artificial contraception; 68 % of women have used highly effective methods including sterilization and the pill; 46 % see religion as very important in their lives.” The study found that “only 3 % of married Catholic women who do not want to become pregnant use Natural Family Planning.” Study authors “suggest that the perception of strongly held religious beliefs and contraceptive use are antithetical is wrong–in fact, . . . the two may be highly compatible.”

    Much discussion should be generated from this study and plans to adequately reeducate the faithful should be examined as this study’s findings are pertinent to the confusion about marriage, and related to the attacks on marriage today. For example, that many of today’s “church-going” Catholic women are cohabiting and contracepting reflects Planned Parenthood’s enormous negative influence on society. That “only 3 % of married Catholic women use modern methods of natural family planning” is shocking, given that Natural Family Planning (NFP) teaching programs have been in circulation for 40 years and are in every US Catholic Diocese and given that modern methods of NFP are effective, free from adverse health effects, and marriage-building. In fact, divorce rates among NFP users hover around 3 % compared to the almost 50 % divorce rate among Catholics and other denominations who use artificial contraception.

    However, on closer examination, these discrepancies are not so surprising. They point to what might be termed serious “communication gaps” in getting authentic teaching to Catholic “church-goers.” It is rare for a church-going Catholic to hear a homilist preach on the Church’s authentic teaching on artificial contraception preached from the pulpit on Sunday Mass (I can only remember two such homilies in the last 30 years). Nor do Catholics hear at Mass about the importance of the Catholic “pro marriage” vision for individuals and wider society as put forth in the Catechism and Papal Encyclicals. While it may be obvious, it is worth pointing out that, in today’s world, where Catholic women and men have been bombarded with Planned Parenthood’s distorted view of sexuality and relationships for a long time, it is probably only at Church that one will hear this message.

    Attacks on the Church’s”pro marriage” stance in forms of divorce, cohabitation, illegitimacy and of late, gay-marriage, can be traced back to the widespread acceptance and practice of contraception over the last 40 years along with the Church’s failure to adequately communicate to the faithful.

    One action plan to “renew the face of the earth,” with the Church’s “pro-marriage” message should focus on the practical level by having our clergy frequently(!) delivering the “good news” to us Catholics literally when we are “in the pews.”

  32. Owen Kelly says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,
    I am not going to comment on your latest article, but want to make a strong comment on the church. I want you to know I love my faith even though I am a sinner, but I must tell you I am VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU. If I was in your shoes I would of made loud noise, so loud that the Pope would of woken up from his sleep. I would of went after all the so called CATHOLIC POLITICIANS, talking about sinners…..PLEASE
    What are you scared about, you should of went after all of them, I take you are allowing those Politicians to receive communion? WHY.

    Now it’s going to get even more uglier, just watch and see, I am disappointed, very disappointed, especially during this time in our catholic chrches, schools are being closed, more people are not attending church, and Priest screwing around with kids, and now Chanel 5 has this priest that left the priesthood, and he has his own show, PLEASE. I am disappointed and I feel you should send a letter to all the priest not giving holy communion to these Politicians, take a cue from your bishop in Brooklyn, unless you don’t want to make waves because you are seeking a higher position in the church, I’ll tell you this, I’ve been around and if things don’t change very soon by being tough, I can assure you my catholic church will go under. Sad but true, please don’t pass the collection towards me, I want fight. Where is Michael the Arcangel when we need him.

  33. Jude Rebecca says:

    Many thanks for your post. I found it spot on. And I wonder if the commenters realize that they come across as logically as a three year old whining for candy and no rules. Such hatred and animosity. I was especially amused by John and Blake. Do these people read anything other than the New York Times? Did they ever study World History? Apparently the Church is secretly pro-divorce but should spend all of her time “testifying” to outlaw it. And yet when priests and bishops do seek to enter the debate, they yell “separation of church and state.” Keep up the good fight. Oh, and Cuomo, Biden, and Pelosi should all be barred from receiving the Holy Eucharist. They are not in communion with the church and are scandalizing the faithful. (Just thought I would throw that in at the end. “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.”)

  34. BobN says:

    On the off chance you want to make amends for having offended us gay folks, perhaps you might consider full disclosure of your financial contributions to anti-gay organizations like NOM. They’re continuing to defy court orders to comply with campaign-finance laws in several states. Revealing the Catholic sources for much of the money would assuage your sins and relieve your allies of the burden borne by refusing to disclose your contributions. Besides, it would leave the Mormons as the only ones still hiding their financial supports and, all new friendships aside, what Catholic doesn’t like sticking it to the Mormons every now and then?

  35. Kari says:

    I find it highly ironic that you should say the Church is “counter cultural” and that you would claim that the Church does not seek or desire political “clout”. Actions speak far louder than words.

    The Church is an integral part of the very establishment that wants to ensure gay and lesbian Americans are treated as second-class citizens. To play the victim card when you are clearly the oppressor is disingenuous; a flagrant lie that you have concocted for the purpose of supporting an indefensible anti-equality agenda.

    But even though it is disingenuous to play the victim when you are in fact the victimizer, what is more telling is the way the Church has been involved in this issue. If the Church did not seek political clout, it would not have spent money lobbying lawmakers to oppose marriage equality. You would not have asked your subordinates to write editorials in newspapers; you would not have told your priests to organize buses to protest equality in Albany. You would not be telling priests to deny Catholic lawmakers communion and you would not be telling

    And frankly, if you did not want political clout you, Archbishop, would not be spending your time writing this blog post. The fact that you are willing to spend your time kvetching about the idea that maybe, just make the state will treat all its citizens as equals for once, shows plain as day that you very much do want political clout.

    It also shows that you prioritize political activism over social justice work that might actually help people. ‘Tis a shame.

  36. Tom says:

    Right on the money Archbishop Dolan. Thank you. Marriage will always be one man and one woman. It doesn’t matter what the pop culture thinks.

    You know there are always people who won’t agree on one stance of the church or another. Perhaps as time goes on our church will be a smaller and holier place to be seems to be going that way.

    God Bless.

  37. Bill says:

    If I could ask you one question, Archbishop Dolan, it would be this:

    Do you truly believe in your heart that you are treating gay citizens as Jesus Christ would?

    You have caused great pain to a great many of God’s children with your words and actions.

    I can not even for a moment believe that Jesus Christ would ever treat gay citizens with the public disrespect, public degradation, and public condemnation that you have.

    Can you, Archbishop Dolan? Can you?

  38. Tim says:

    Sadly, Bishop, your blogging on this issue shows how truly archaic, ill-informed and narrow-minded your worldview is. Maybe 50 years ago…heck, even 15 years ago, your use of fear and apocalyptic language would have frightened the uneducated and myopic among your “flock”. But with younger generations realizing that love is love, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual, your arguments now come across as an old man clinging to a sinking raft that’s weighted down by its own ignorance.
    Your kind are a dying breed, Bishop. And your words demonstrate your own self-fear that you’ve lost the battle. And I, for one, am glad that you’ve lost.

  39. Judge William Lee (ret.) says:

    Enough pseudo-scholastic “prudential judgement”;that is merely an excuse for the line of least resistance at best or go along to get along at worst! the time is long overdue for a restoration of at least the appearance of Church discipline re “Catholic but…”pols.It is a matter of credibility and protecting the Faithful from scandal—if there is no downside to persistent public facilitation of vice, well, maybe it’s not so bad after all–a vrey slippery slope. Better to have organized the real Catholics of NY to have prevented this than to await the white martydom of the ACLU etc.

  40. Irwin says:

    Thank God for Archbishop Dolan and his fellow Bishops and priests!! Marriage will always be between one man and one woman. Anything else is an abomination and everyone knows it. The vote was another sad day for what was once a great state. Fortunately there are other states proudly defending true marriage. With prayer New York will again join their ranks.

  41. Dear Archbishop Dolan:
    Thank God for courageous Catholic leaders like you! If only there were more like you! Please continue your struggle and we will support you by flooding heaven with prayer for your efforts.

    Those who smirk at your warnings of future persecution are the same ones who caved in during Thomas More’s time. We must always remember More’s sacrifice. He died not only because he was a Christian, but more importantly, because he was a Catholic!

    God bless you!

  42. Michelle says:

    This is a beautiful and positive message, I am new to the Church and will be sharing this with all my friends, both anti and pro gay marriage. It is so great to see a leader with words of love and brotherhood for homosexuals and those of other religions. It is also nice to see that Archbishop Dolan addressed the issue of \homophobia\, which I have always felt was used wrongly as an umbrella term to mean anyone against gay marriage.

    I too sent letters to every member of the NY senate with my opinion on the matter. (You can view the text of the letter at It is a shame that we didn’t win this battle, but the fight goes on.

  43. John Anderson says:

    Thank you for your piece, your Excellency! I too worry about what kind of America will be left to my daughter, what will be left of her freedom to believe and to put into action the demands that truth, faith, and love enjoin upon all of us.

  44. Repsac3 says:

    I support the right and the necessity for every faith and denomination to define marriage according to the tenets of their faith, and I stand opposed to any individual or group that would try to “force” any church to go against their teachings and marry (or not marry) any couple that doesn’t adhere to the faith.

    That said, I firmly believe there are significant differences between the sacred and religious rites of marriage, and the civil right to marry, and that it is not for any church to define and codify religious rites into secular law. (if you ask me, the problem is one of semantics. “Marriage” isn’t ( or shouldn’t be) a legal term, infused as it is with sacred teachings and beliefs.)

    The state has every right to choose to recognize religious ceremony as a legal union, just as each church can choose whether or not to recognize the secular, civil ceremony that creates a legal union as a marriage. But the twain needn’t meet. Religious marriage is what your faith teaches you is is; no more and no less. Legal marriage need not–and I would argue, ought not–be based on any faith’s religious teachings, but on the founding documents and laws of the land. Hopefully, this is the direction we are headed throughout this country.

    I applaud the Catholic church’s efforts to stay true to their teachings, and I hope they continue to do so. (I feel the same about my own faith–Unitarian Universalism–which has been performing weddings for same and opposite gendered couples for years, in accordance with our beliefs.) I would no more want US law to mandate (or forbid) my religious rites than I would your religious rites. If there’s one place where the church and the state ought to remain divided it is in mandating or forbidding religious rites by federal, state, or local law… …or mandating or forbidding Constitutional rights via the church, either.

  45. Daniel says:

    Growing up, I heard the lyrics “Father Abaham had many sons…”, but little did I realize that those sons were the result of polygamist relationships:

    “And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” Genesis 16:3

    “Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.” Genesis 25:1

    It seems absurd to pretend that the Church has always taken a principled stand against threats to marriage like polygamy when the practice appears so often in the Bible (i.e. David, Ezra, Jacob, Moses, Saul, Soloman, etc.). Father, you are too intelligent to resort to sensationalism and misinformation. Please show enough respect for the faith and for your readers not to use false arguments.

  46. Valli Leone says:

    Dear Archbishop:

    Whenever I hear or read a well-reasoned response to a very difficult situation, as was yours, I rejoice to be a part of the holy Catholic Church and a Christian, whose treasured belief in the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman, commits me to speak the truth in love in every venue. Your example inspires me and all of us who live to proclaim the Gospel of life to a world which most often does not want to hear it. Like parents guiding children, we will never give up or give in to the world, the flesh and the devil.

    Love never fails. You have shown us that, by your wise and well-delivered remarks. Thanks be to God for giving us clergy like you who will defend his truths in season and out of season. Please know that I will be praying with you for every person, regardless of his or her understandings or misunderstandings of scripture and the commandments. The Lord has no favorites, and we are connected as the family of God, hoping to bring the victory which Jesus lived for, died for and resurrected for, to all of his children. Come, Holy Spirit! The joy of the Lord is our strength!

  47. Marya says:

    A man and a man or woman and a woman living together is a piece of cake. But a woman and a man? For that you need an institution! The joke is that anyone really thinks gays need marriage. Isn’t this really about homosexuality that is narcissistic to the extreme? Aren’t we being manipulated not so much by homosexuals but by homosexuals who also have narcissistic personality disorder? Not all gays want this.
    This is like some kind of Sharia law. It’s about not allowing anyone their own conscience. I hope the argument becomes less arcane and we begin to see this for what it is. Marriage is altruistic, or should be. Can’t we speak more about that and how ‘mirroring’ relationships are unhealthy–that is, when one person expects another person to ‘mirror’ them and not complement them. Ever notice how people in gay relationships always seem like mirror images of each other. Unlike men & women who only start to look like each other after 40-50 years of living together.

  48. Carlos says:

    Thanks your Eminence for courageously and lovingly defending the faith, and for being a solid point of reference. At a time when relativism is the norm and intolerance toward the Catholic church is rampant, all I can say is thanks to the Church, the Pope, and the Bishops (along with so many Catholics and people from other faiths and convictions) for defending the truth and for reminding us what marriage’s true meaning is.

    Thanks also for bringing the example of St. Thomas More, how such a man of his stature followed his conscience without fear to the earthly powers. We will continue to live our lives bringing light to the world. The truth is what it is, and will forever be truth, no matter how much we try to twist it.

    May God bless you!

  49. Benjamin Baxter says:

    Blake: Straw herring. The State has no duty to do anything to marriage. It is prudential for the state to encourage marriage, but only the sort +Dolan argues for — for the sake of raising children with a mom and a dad, that is, a stable environment.

    John: Read the Catechism on divorce and marriage. It is possible that there existed no marriage the first time, and the church considers divorce valid for the purposes of distributing property. It is remarriage that is impossible, but because whether or not marriage existed at all the first time is a sticky subject, we do not presume guilt. Though the bishops did very strongly oppose no-fault divorce, it is a far grayer area than same-sex marriage. It is like comparing the death penalty — where there might be legitimate disagreement — with abortion.

    What people seem to forget is that if a couple participates in the form of a marriage, we are to, generally, presume it valid. They are not required to conceive children — “a child is not a thing owed” — or fulfill much else but be open to life in their marital life. This being impossible with same-sex marriage so-called, just as it is philosophically untenable to deny the evil of abortion — ref. Kreeft — so is partnership.

    Marriage being more than a contract and social construct though it is one in part, just as man is more than an animal, has no business being widened to the point of rupture.

  50. Ray says:

    Dear Archbishop – BRAVO – May I have your permission to put this on my website verbatim, with proper attribution?