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?

Yes.

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. Julie Monette says:

    Keep fighting the good fight, Archbisop Dolan!
    Julie

  2. Fr. Peter says:

    Thanks so much Archbishop Dolan.

  3. TJ Parker says:

    “The only ‘clout’ the Church really has is God’s Truth.”

    Hah. “We don’t have clout! We merely claim that we speak for God and know what civil laws God wants implemented!”

    “We do worry indeed about this freedom of religion.”

    Why? You don’t trust the courts? Your freedom of religion is guaranteed in this country’s Constitution. The civil liberties of gay and lesbian people have had no defenders for decades.

    “None of this is anti-anybody, but simply pro marriage.”

    I’m a gay man married to my high-school boyfriend now since marriage was legal in California. We have a son who is 4 and a daughter 14 months. Your fight has directly impacted my family. You have fought to deprive us, to deprive my children of equal treatment under the law. You have fought to deny them the rights and privileges of other children, to deny my family the benefits of other families.

    Yes, your fight is a fight against my family. Perhaps you will argue that the long-term good outweighs the harm to families like mine, but you MUST make that argument. Your crusade DOES harm individuals and couples and families. At least acknowledge that much!

    There IS something that I will fight never to have taught to my children or any children. And that is your religion and your Bible. Some day, when they are old enough, I’ll let them see that document: How it condones polygamy. How it condones slavery. “Yes”, the Bible says, “you can sell your daughter into slavery … but she has to be at least 12!” “Yes”, the Bible says, “you can marry and impregnate your female slave, but she has to be at least 12!” This is not a book or religion for children.

    But they will grow up knowing that you and your people are their enemies. Because they will still see you on television, denouncing their family, telling lies about their lives. And when they see this, I’ll have to tell them something. So I will teach them about sanctimony and teach them about hypocrisy. What do you know: the church is good for something after all.

  4. To doug:

    You certainly can be pro-something without being anti-something-else. That kind of either/or thinking is irrational.

    The natural law is what it is, and nothing anyone can do will change it. You may, however, subvert it at the peril of everyone.

  5. tara says:

    Dear Archbishop,

    Where is the public excommunication of this very public Heretic, Gov. Cuomo??! It is a great scandal to the Church!! And to do nothing speaks volumes!!!
    Thank you for your time.
    God Bless.
    Tara

  6. tara says:

    Dear Archbishop,

    WHO…who…who will ‘defend’ Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament against public Heretics receiving Him in Holy Communion sacreligiously while blatantly, publicly attacking Holy Mother Church’s Sacred Teachings on the Sanctity of Life, the Sanctity of Holy Matrimony??
    Isn’t this the FIRST DUTY of a Priest…to defend Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament??!
    I just read that Archbishop Charles Chaput said, and I’m paraphrasing…”I expect to die in bed. My predecessor to die in jail and his predecessor to die a Martyr.”
    Who will defend and protect Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament NOW??!
    Thank you for your time!
    God Bless.
    Tara

  7. Thomas Warner says:

    So sin is sanctity. When political incorrectness becomes a sin ,then we are in big trouble. I think this time has already arrived.
    Human anatomy and physiology were not created by us.
    Incidentally, the good bishop’s mention of Saint John the Baptist is so appropriate and may God bless him for it.

  8. Michael Petek says:

    “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.”

    Archbishop: If the worst happens and Christians are persecuted into silence, do you anticipate that there will come a point at which no Christian could in good conscience participate in the military defence of the United States, on the basis that the United States will no longer be worth defending against even her most murderous enemies?

  9. Barbara says:

    Archbishop,
    It is your job as Bishop to teach the Church’s position on marriage. However and respectfully, the \cheapening\ argument does not convince many people because in the lived reality of our lives we see and experience many heterosexual unions blessed by the Church as \marriage\ that cheapen marriage with abuse, neglect, lack of love and infedility. On the other hand, in recent years and in places such as New York where same sex couples have become mainstream, we are witnesses to same sex unions, not blessed by the Church, that are an inspiration to love, committment, and devotion that appear to have been Blessed by God. So this is where the disconnect is between the hierarchy and many lay Catholics on the same sex marriage issues and so many other issues in the area of sexuality. What you are saying does not find support in our lived reality.

  10. PAT NELSON says:

    THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE , SANCTIFIED BY OUR LORD IS ONE BETWEEN 1 MAN AND 1 WOMEN. THIS HAS BEEN FROM THE BEGINNING. WHEN GOD CREATED ADAM AND THEN EVE. HE DID NOT CREATE 1 MAN FOR 1 MAN or 1 WOMEN FOR 1 WOMEN. The 10 COMMANDMENTS GOD HANDED DOWN TO MOSES TO GIVE TO THE ISRAELITES SAY THOU SHALL NOT COMMITT ADULTERY THAT MEANS SODOMY AS WELL. THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURES WE ARE GIVEN THESE LESSONS
    JUST BECAUSE OUR CIVIL COURTS NOW RULE IT “OK” DOES NOT MEAN WE AS CHRISTIANS MUST TURN AWAY FROM GOD’S TEACHING.
    WOE TO THOSE WHO TRY TO CHANGE THAT – THEY WILL ANSWER TO THE ALMIGHTY

  11. Prock says:

    I am saddened that our Bishops have decided to take this issue and further alienate so many Catholics. There are so many issues that our church fails to yell and scream about: racism, poverty, immigration and the death penalty. Please adjust your priorities.

  12. Kevin says:

    Your Grace:

    First of all, blessings on you for your staunch and courageous defence of the sanctity of marriage in the face of such overwhelming evil.

    I would say, though, that you have NOTHING for which you need to apologize. You are defending Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church which has always taught that marriage is the sacred union betwen one man and one woman. And what God has joined together, let no man put asunder!

    If there are those who would take offence at that teaching, then that is their problem -not yours. You correctly mentioned in your article that there are those who are guilty of Theophobia. Can there be much clearer evidence of the forces of evil at work?

    So, congratualtions to you and the Archdiocese of New York. Be assured of my prayers for you and for all Catholics in New York. We are living in difficult times, and we need Church leaders who will speak the truth.

    God bless you!

    Kevin Miller
    Montreal

  13. Andrea says:

    May God bless you. Thank you for your thoughtful and loving response.

  14. Peter Comaskey says:

    I’m seventy years old, a life long Catholic and in the last few years have, with many of my Catholic friends, totally lost faith in the bishops whose standard of response to so-called Catholic abortion/same sex marriage politicians is by doing nothing. Oh yes, a bishop rep. will come out and say words to appease us as if something is being done but in reality it’s meaningless drool, having no affect as who can or will take it seriously any longer. To me this has the effect of NEUTERING the Church for what it stands for and believes in causing many to fall away. John the Baptist who King Herod did behead was not afraid to face or tell the evil power over him “Send your brother’s wife home”. You ask can any more be done. Yes, stand up, Bishop Dolan lead and shake the dust of these scandalous politicians off the Holy Church. In your article you constantly apologize, it’s not needed and it seems you fear the media and what they say more than anything. You finish your statement bringing up Thomas Moore, who also lost his head for the faith. Well dear Bishop you are in a sense Bishop/leader/general lead us, we beg you, lead us, even if it means some martyrdom.

  15. Angelo says:

    What if the secular State stopped being in the business of defining what “marriage” is? I think the whole problem starts because the Church has given, and continues to give, the secular State the power to define “marriage”

    Of course if two or more consenting adults want to enter into a private contract to legally define their “relationship” that should be allowed…but that should not bring any tax-payer funded privileges, like “marriage” brings now.

    “Marriage” should be left to the Churches and if there’s a Church willing to marry two persons of the same sex (I’m sure there’ll be plenty mainline Protestant Churches willing to do so) then so be it – they will have to answer to God in the end.

    I really wish the Catholic Church spent more time trying to educate Catholics and less time empowering and lobbying politicians. Jesus never told his Apostles to go lobby Pilate – He saw His movement as completely separate from the secular State. He went for the hearts and minds of his disciples, not for drafting laws…

  16. Steve says:

    So many protestors, even here, and maybe thankfully here. And yet Archbishop Dolan is ABSOLUTELY correct. How can one even deny the self evident facts of what has happened to families, and marriage in the past 50 years. As the Archbishop correctly notes, the dilution of marriage has always been something that the Church stood against – as the Church has stood against evil throughout its history, and done much to help those who were persecuted. It is baffling that one even references WWII and the Nazis – do your research – and also look at the facts, look at what Nazis did to Catholics throughout Europe and particularly in Poland.

    Marriage is under attack, and it has been badly damaged, and this is one more hit against marriage in Western society. If you doubt it, simply ask yourself the question of how as a society are we truly better off now than 50 years ago? Or 40 years ago? Or 30 years ago? Are we more peaceful? Are children better educated, living in less violent environments? Are women being treated with greater respect and love? Are children?

    Fact is, mankind has usually failed to respond to God’s teaching, and to embrace his brother with love. The Archbishop points this out, and his points are really self evident, that mankinds disregard for true marriage manifests itself in so many ways: poverty, violence and the greatest sufferers from this are women and children. Simply look at single parent households (largely women), the violence within our cities, drop out rates, particularly among minorities and children coming from non-nucelar families. The evidence is self-evident simply by driving through your local city, but if in doubt, go to government websites (such as HUD) and the research bears it all out.

    Thanks be to God that the Archbishop speaks the truth, not all of us have his capacity to respond with patience and grace, but he is a shining example to us all, on how to respond with love. For all of you attack him, may you be blessed with greater wisdom and compassion.

  17. Ryan Ayala says:

    Archbishop Dolan,

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I am a lay Catholic in Phoenix, AZ, please know that we are praying for you.

    In Jesus Christ,

    Ryan Ayala

  18. Paul H says:

    “…why didn’t New York’s bishops allocate equivalent resources to fighting New York’s adoption of no-fault divorce last year?”

    I don’t know what level of “resources” were devoted last year against no-fault divorce, or this year in defense of the opposite-sex nature of marriage, but the New York bishops *did* oppose no-fault divorce in New York:

    http://www.nyscatholic.org/pages/news/show_newsDetails.asp?id=519

  19. Thank you, Archbishop Dolan, for your eloquent and fearless defense of the holy sacrament of marriage. As a young man, I lived through a divorce and, later in life, passed through the trials brought about in my own life by my own divorce. Our Church has responded with love and compassion for myself and family members involved. We see the same compassionate response in this column, Archbishop Dolan, for those who seek the social acceptance of an institution infused by Christ when He imbued the institution of marriage with the designation of a sacrament, which we know is defined as an outward sign Christ instituted to give grace. IF there is anything parents need, in this day and age, to raise children, it is grace. And, being a flawed soul whose own weak and pitiful human nature is inescapably culpable in the demise of my own marriage, I can also attest to the experience of healing and the discovery of God’s love for me through regular receipt of graces from the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of reconciliation. For Holy Mother Church’s challenge to flawed souls like mine is not to give in to control by my passions but to seek control of my passions by use of the tools used in time immemorial by those who’ve come before us. The Catholic tools of prayer, sacrifice, receipt of the sacraments and fearless but gentle practice of virtue, starting with the humility to admit my sinfulness. Archbishop Dolan, thank you and your brother Shepherds for the sacrifices you’ve made to provide us leadership and direction as we pass through these challenging times.

  20. Kathy Jankowski says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Dolan. My mom used to say “If everyone is jumping off of that bridge would you do it too?” when she was trying to point out the folly of someone else’s ideas. I bet she didn’t know she has something in common with St. Augustine. I will share your column with her, and as many people as I can.

  21. Mike says:

    For the secularist who replied earlier, think of it this way: The man’s “business” is to manage the people of New York according to his “owner”. If he did not reply in the manner he did, he would not be doing his job. I think many in management or public relations would agree he replied quite well. For the believers: It is unfortuate the northeast United States thinks they set the moral compass of the rest of our country, our society (and the world!). There is a much larger world, my liberal NY friends, including our Muslim brethern, who destest this and will indeed resist it. Sorry, winning over a few corrupt NY legislators to pass this sham of a law is not really a victory. Pass this law in Saudi Arabia and I will be the first to congratulate you.
    Keep up the fight, your Excellency! There are BILLIONS on your side.

  22. Caeli Francisco says:

    To Doug I want to say, please read in the Holy Bible, Jude verses 4,7+8.

    What this Archbishop has done was the RIGHT thing!

  23. Dear Bishop Dolan,
    I am proud of you for standing up and not being afraid to speak the truth in love. Homosexuality is a sin and was a disease not many years ago. You are correct that we should love our homosexual brothers and sisters and realize Sin is Sin. We are all guilty of Sin. We are to live our lives in accordance to the Word of God. Homosexuality is against nature. It should not be taught in schools as a developing norm. I am fearful, secular politicians will force the Church to mandate Gay and Lesbian marriages or face severe consequences. If we looked deep within our soul, with prayer as a guide, we will come to the conclusion that homosexuality is wrong as is abortion. We will all be held accountable by the Lord. Dr Craig Lowe (retired physician)

  24. Luciano says:

    It’s time to proclaim the truths of the faith from the pulpit in such a way that people may know clearly what we truly believe and take away any room for excuses for the compromises with the ways of the world and the worldly. Bring out for people the Creed of Pope Paul the VI for all to recite. The need is great.

  25. Archbishop Dolan asks, “Is there anything left to say?”

    Yes!

    The act of contraception is wrong. The act of contraception is immoral. The act of contraception is intrinsically evil. Yes, evil, because it goes against the intrinsic goods of marital love and life.

    “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).” CCC 2399

  26. No-fault divorce cheapened marriage such that marriage is only a temporary sharing lasting until either partner feels like withdrawing. Contraception made sex have nothing to do with children. I’m not surprised that gays can get in on the routine.

    If the bishops fought no-fault divorce sixty years ago, I don’t see any traces of it now.

    Ask children of no-fault divorce if there was any priest telling the abandoning spouse that he/she has an obligation to maintain a common life for the children. Too often, we hear “the Church is not opposed to divorce, only to remarriage without an annulment.” Then we see publicity from tribunals about their healing process. I don’t see the U.S. Catholic Church upholding and defending marriage amongst its own flock.

    If Archbishop Dolan is consistent about upholding marriage, we should see him doing something to prevent the scandal caused by Catholic lawyers profiting in the divorce industry. Catholic no-fault divorce lawyers break apart families when there is no morally legitimate reason for marital separation; everyone disregards Catholic canon law specifying that no civil divorce or separation decree can be obtained contrary to divine law (canon 1151-1155, 1692) or without the Bishop’s permission.

    I don’t expect the Catholic Church to be responsible for the votes of the civil legislators. However, I’m saddened that it remains uninvolved bystanders for each of the millions of Catholic spouses abandoning marriage and forcing children into broken homes.

  27. Pam T says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    Thank you. Thank you for answering the call to be a priest. Thank you for living your vocation so well. Thank you for standing up for right and true. Thank you for being an outstanding spokesman for Christ, Holy Mother Church and for Catholics. May God grant you many happy, healthy blessed years as you continue to serve Him and His Church.

  28. Steve says:

    Archbishop Dolan,
    I have to agree with Ben Anderson’s comments that “….the teaching of the Church is very cloudy here in Rochester.”
    Regarding gay marriage, my large family attends between four & five churches on
    a given weekend–both city & suburben. In the months & weeks leading up to the gay
    marriage vote, there was no mention in sermons or in the bullitins about the issue.
    Nor was there a letter writing proposal advanced. Nor were there postcards to sign in the back of the church as with other moral issues. If other dioceases responded in the same manner,then perhaps this lack of cohesiveness contributed to the passage of the law.

  29. ciao says:

    Your Excellency,
    I know that it is difficult these days to stand up clearly and state your Catholic opinion when so many others make it there business to oppose you, even within the Church.
    Our priests need a strong and courageous Prelate, who will guide them, with paternal love, gentleness, strength, wisdom and prudence, many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger, if they don’t have this leadership.
    The Catholic faithful are with you Bishop. I appreciate your courage. Please don’t be silent, ever. Our Lady help you and Our Precious Lord keep you.

  30. Armand Carpentier says:

    doug says:
    July 8, 2011 at 12:06 am
    “Mr. Dolan, you don’t have a clue. When you’re ‘pro’ something you’re ‘anti’ something as well.”
    Wow! An unbelievably irrational statement! Poor doug – what a shallow personality with false reasoning even in his first sentence. Little minds always attack brilliant minds. The claptrap which follows this first statement is not worth reading – but I guess we have to, to see what deviant thinking there is in our midst !

  31. Deborah says:

    Your Excellency said:

    “…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.”

    I wish the Church leadership, all its bishops and priests, would live up to this statement, as it is just not the reality. One of the greatest dangers to marriage and marriage stability has been and continues to be the ease with which annulments are granted. This simply cannot be denied. Both John Paul II and Pope Benedict have tried to correct this problem for years in their yearly addresses to the Roman Rota, which I encourage every faithful Catholic to read. Yet it has continued for decades unabated. If Bishops really cared about marriage and its stability, why are they not paying attention to what is going on in their tribunals? Do they know how many of their parish priests encourage divorce and annulment rather than reconciliation or that they take sides when spouses come to them for help? Why have they stopped warning souls that they will be condemned? Is hell filled up? Willful divorce condemns, like adultery, and yes sodomy! This is TRUTH that the Church did not make up, but that comes from God, Himself. If we really love those in these states, whether gay or straight, we must warn them of the danger. This is true LOVE!

    The very happy marriage of no-fault divorce and Catholic annulment for the past 40-plus years has prepared the perfect soil for same sex-marriage. The lack of strong leadership in the Church has played a very big hand in this and it would be nice to see them admit their part. If those in the Church really did their jobs like St. John the Baptist, divorce and annulment would never have become so rampant. My prayer is that Edward Cardinal Egan, who knows better than any canon lawyer what the problems are in the U. S. Church tribunals, who understands that incorrect criteria is being used to judge marriage cases, will be outspoken and help correct these errors.

    This is the big hole in the marriage boat. We will never bail ourselves out of this same-sex marriage dilemma, or stabilize Catholic marriage until we plug this gaping hole and begin to steady the boat.

    Jesus did not apologize for speaking the TRUTH.

  32. Khrys says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the simple arm band saying WWJD
    And can’t help but wonder what would honestly happen here…

    A Question of Marriage?
    I am more than willing to admit that I find the whole issue farcial because:

    1) People are experiencing preventable suffering while ‘we’ (the gay and lesbian communities, the secular civil rights community, church groups and groups of concerned citizens- all are equally guilty) throw cash at an issue which really pales in comparison to the rates of child sexual abuse, homicide, homelessness and domestic violence (preventable, identifiable evils in our own communities)

    2) I think what we really need to consider is- Are our actions are in line with our beliefs?

    I don’t blame Catholicism- of which I am a confirmed member- for the horrendous abuses caused by individuals (or for the process the Vatican used for dealing with these monsters) any more than I blame Islam for the actions of terrorists who used it as an excuse to harm innocent people- I DON’T believe that these actions are part of the core beliefs of either of these religions.

    I left the church, but not my faith, obediently when asked to do so based on my refusal to do penance for loving a person of the same sex- not SEX… but love (the feeling in my heart that this person inspires me to be a better person who I wanted to spend the rest of my life.)

    Upon leaving the Church I realised that a priest is only a human trained by other humans about how to interpret the word of God- and I came to understand that on the day of judgement I will need to account for not only my actions but my thoughts and MOTIVES. In this I reached an understanding that for me marriage is not a necessity as long as my relationship remains firmly motivated by pure love, not a feeling of obligation, helplessness or ownership.

    If Love is the word of God then Hate is its exact opposite and I feel that many (on both sides) need to consider whether the placards we are holding, the chants we are chanting and the MOTIVES of our actions are those of Love and therefore God or are they based on fear and hatred.

    An issue of Love, not lust
    In a modern world I think that we approach the Christ as a half mirror-half headmaster, vaguely similar to us but as a corrective/punitive figure rather than as a shining example of how to behave.

    Through our VERY human interpretation of divine words and lessons we seem to have forgotten that Christ made mistakes, lost his temper and started a very real social revolution. Although slightly different (more so if you consider the linguistic shift from the old languages into modern English) between gospels we see a consistent message of the human son of God- which is love.

    I think that in a modern world, where sex is so openly discussed, people sometimes find it hard remember that there is a difference between a physical act and that heart/soul based compassion which is an unconditional love for all things.

    I’d be lying if I said that the community which same sex attracted people have created for themselves didn’t focus STRONGLY on sexual activities but lets consider what outcomes you might ‘reasonably’ (not ‘rightly’ or ‘morally’- because WE ALL make horrendous decisions some times) expect the outcome to be when:
    • you are told that the person you are is abhorrent from a young age (and I was a VERY notably effeminate child);
    • you are told that “you can’t be part of our community”; and
    • you aren’t protected by a society.

    The results are fairly standard (not just in terms of sexuality) you:
    • avoid and remove yourself from harm (often resulting in a fear or hatred of organisations that the individuals identify as causing the lack of safety;
    • seek to create a safe space/community of your own with like people who share like values which creates a very DIFFERENT set of social norms

    I’m not arguing that this is correct/right action; simply that history demonstrates that it is a predictable pattern (‘religious’ groups have done this across many religions and cultures through out history with the same success/failure ratios and VARYING levels of ‘crazy/nutso’ subgroups)

    What would Jesus do?
    I’m in no way asking for people to act against their conscience (which I consider to be God’s way of keeping divine law a living thing), but I’d like for people to take some quiet time to REALLY consider:
    1) whether Christ was the defender of conservative values and tradition in his time or was he the one to denounce traditions which inhibited the lesson that he brought to the world, that of God’s UNCONDITIONAL love and boundless forgiveness (as long as it is asked for?); and
    2) Did Jesus die to end sin, or so that our sins may be forgiven/ did he ever tell someone how they MUST act or simply provide them with both the instructions should they wish to reach heaven and the shining example of his self sacrifice for the world?

    With all the love in my heart,

    Khrys

  33. Tim says:

    Thank you, Archbishop, for your words about the Church not being anti-gay and your apology to those who found some statements hurtful. With the assurance of my prayers.

  34. vi melendez says:

    Dear Bishop Dolan,

    You are certainly correct. Gay marriage is wrong because they will not be able to produce or multiply, bringing forth children which is a gift from God…nser

    In answer to some of the comments:
    The reason why people are given the option, is because, God gave us FREE WILL. A Free Will to choose right from wrong. Choose God or choose evil.

    Our Lord said, “It is by their fruits that you will know that they belong to me.”

    Our actions in this life will reflect on the next life.

    My prayers are with you Bishop Dolan.

  35. Sheryl says:

    John, July 8th at 2:09 a.m. says that the bishops did little or nothing to fight no-fault divorce; however, John adds that he’s curious to know “if Catholic Charities New York refuses to place children with couples where one or both potential parents have been divorced without benefit of an annulment.”

    Annulment is the Catholic form of no-fault divorce, and Cardinal Egan, retired in New York City, has argued brilliantly that most marriages are valid.

    The annulment process is so abused (and the children that they affect), that to argue that most marriages are invalid, which is what tribunalists do, is to support divorce/remarriage of Catholics and marriage becomes so undermined that many Catholics don’t bother with a Church wedding anymore.

    When all is lost, and Catholic teaching is gone because the bishops don’t teach it. people grasp for what little happiness they can have for the moment and we are, therefore, losing the argument that homosexual marriage is wrong.

  36. Mary says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Dolan.

    As to your statement about the “Church standing 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 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.”

  37. JonZ says:

    Bishop Dolan, Thank you for taking a stand. It’s just a matter of time until the government allow individuals to define whatever marriage configuration they seem to like at their moment of pleasure. It’s rather disgusting and certainly not Biblical. Thanks again.

  38. irishsmile says:

    “our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay.”
    Please, a clearification… I have always understood that ‘Gay’ referred to the antive homosexual lifestyle. I understand that the church is not anti-homosexual referring to inclination but one has to be very careful when the term ‘gay’ is used.
    Anti simply means against… not in favor of. Christians should be against murder, adultery, rape, etc.

  39. Ray Yank says:

    Thank you “Father” Archbishop Dolan for continuing to be a real man. We love you.

  40. Jaybird says:

    For Vi Mendelez (above), who asserts, using the most faulty logic ever witnessed in Christendom, that gay marriages will not be able to produce children, I would just like to point out that plenty of straight couples get married and choose never to have children. Equally, plenty of widowed people who have already had children get re-married well past the age when they would bear children. Are you going to forbid them from marrying as well?

    I would also like to point out something that is BLEEDIN’ OBVIOUS to those of us not wearing the blinders of irrational faith: last time anyone checked, this dying planet of ours was groaning under the weight of more than 7 billion people, with more than 11 billion expected by the end of this decade. Trust me on this, the Biblical imperative to “be fruitful and multiply” has been more than adequately fulfilled, about 3 billion people ago. Maybe Vi you should ask your precious church officials to start looking after the millions of abandoned and orphaned children in this world (instead of using them as non-consenting sex toys, as they have an all-too-well documented track record of having done to-date).

    The English language is both highly elastic and agglomerative. That is how it has survived and dominated as a primary language on Earth. The word “marriage” can easily survive the minor adjustment inclusion of committed same-sex couples without insult or injury.

  41. Florin says:

    Your Excellency, I am so grateful that you are speaking into this issue. We need to realize that if we don’t draw a line in the sand, this is going to get worse. People ask how is it that Catholic politicians who promote same-sex marriage are permitted to receive the Eucharist and I ask how Catholic politicians such as Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Daschle, Dodd, Kennedy, etc.,can continue to receive the Eucharist when they not only stand against life, but Joe Biden went to Africa and promised if they would permit abortion in their new constitution the money would flow. These Catholic pols aggressively push for the killing of unborn babies and are often granted huge sums of money from Planned Parenthood. We are talking about the killing of babies who are already kicking in the womb. To permit these Catholic politicians who publicly promote abortion, same sex marriage agendas to receive the Eucharist says to the public and to those Catholic politicians themselves: “You are Catholics in good standing despite the fact that you support and encourage the massive killing of human babies.” and allowing them to do this denies them the catalyst for conversion because Nancy Pelosi once said that if she had been told she could not receive the Eucharist she would have been ‘devastated’ – and that surely would have caused her to reflect and perhaps convert. Would we say to those who admit they molest children or those who support such behavior to receive the Eucharist? Child molestation is horrendous but at least that child would have the possibility of healing and of living a good life. The babe in the womb once killed has no such option. May God have mercy on us all. As you say, your Excellency. permitting same-sex marriage will lead to other forms of ‘marriage’; and I say that permitting the slaughter of human babies in the womb will lead to legalizing the killing of babies outside the womb. May Our Lady help us all.

  42. Simon L says:

    How many more gay people does God have to create in order to show that gay marriage is natural?

  43. O.A Manno says:

    The Free Masonic order is doing a fine job of trying to wash the tenets of the Church away and bringing into law that which is against God. I have read that those in power decided that the abortion clinics should be in the black and Spanish neighborhoods because they–those who made the decision– think these people are not worth propagating.
    In the past, what?–50 years–maybe less– this nation has been subjected to a horror of sins of the flesh–and the results thereof. Abortion–50,000 at last count in the US alone, the pill that women take to avoid pregnancy, couple living together out of wed-lock-free love, dope of any kind, corruption from high places right down to the nitty gritty individual.
    If you read your scripture when the Jews were corrupt from top to bottom, the Lord wiped the slate clean and He left an aniwim. I think we’re headed in the same direction.
    Thre has to be a change –a direction that leads to the Lord. if not, Heaven help us all.

  44. Thank you very much, Archbishop Dolan, for this message — especially your reminder that marriage is “at the very foundation of civilization, which the state has the duty to defend and protect, not to mutate.” As a Evangelical Lutheran pastor (in Illinois), I am sad to say that our own Bishops are blind the catastrophe our society, with the assistance of many who are in our churches (including, alas, our ELCA Bishops in New York), has been courting. Please know that I am praying that you remain strong in your proclamation of the Truth.

  45. Joe says:

    “Five, though, if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize ” — this is just wrong.

  46. joe lowrey says:

    The governor & the other so-called Catholics who voted for the new marriage law should be excommunicated by Archbishop Dolan. Anathema sint!
    The longer that the Archbishop waits to apply this remedy to them they will be branches dying on the vine and affecting the health of the whole Church.

  47. David Gerhardt says:

    Thanks for your message of love and inclusion. Gay marriage is a Civil Rights issue, not a religious one. Religious bigotry is a blight on our society. I don’t need to be married in the Catholic Church in which I was raised. A justice of the Peace or Lutheran pastor will do just fine.

  48. Kusal M says:

    A sarcastic answer to the sarcastic and demeaning question of “what would Jesus do about a homosexual, would be “he would cure him”. But my argument is not a religious one.

    I think that people do many things in the name of pleasure (some are quite unhealthy and adds to the burden of cost of health care). Homosexuality is a behavior (orientation or choice) like any other and that evolutionary dead end activity is one’s private business. When it has become a political force, that is what is criticized and fought against. People thinking that they are so advanced in their humanity and thought, because they are so called OK with people getting pleasure (I won’t be crude here) which is a evolutionary dead end, is laughable. Gov’t and courts shouldn’t be in the business of encouraging evolutionary dead end behavior. That activity doesn’t lead to diversity of the gene pool. So the question is what is the evolutionary benefit of homosexuality? If we are in a quest to find cures for many things that affect us, why not a quest to find a cure for the ultimate evolutionary dead end condition/behavior. After all people do research to find cures for many spectrum diseases (as sexual orientation is categorized now). Also, sexual behavior (biological or cultural) has a choice such as some choose not to have sex or some choosing to have sex with X.

    Also, a civil right exists or granted (by the creator or society) to the betterment through the diversity of people. As homosexuality doesn’t lead to diversification, the civil right argument is a flawed one. Courts must be made to realize that.

  49. Michael Cummings says:

    Your Excellency:

    What is truly “haunting” is that you talk a good talk now, but only after the fight is lost and after having failed to put up a real fight or take any effective action to stop this abomination. Your deafness to those who criticize you on this point and your insistence on defending your lack of action is even more haunting. It is almost Orwellian. As a faithful Catholic, when the persecutions come, I know I cannot count on you.

  50. Peter says:

    Marriage is a personal and religious act. The problem is that the state has no business defining religious acts. America is not a theocracy. But it has done just that, centuries ago. America grants rights and privileges to married people. The gay marriage issue, at least to me, is more of a criticism of the state’s theocratic tendencies over the protection of America’s concept of freedom. In politics, I prefer a freedom of religion rather than enforcing my own religion on anyone. I think Jesus would have thought the same, given the persecution he felt for pursuing his own religion. Love and tolerance are for me profoundly important catholic traits. State’s laws should protect people, not prevent them from making choices that have no impact on others around them. And if choices that relate to moral character are stipulated by laws rather than free will, how can moral character be established to begin with? To be a moral person, one must make moral choices. Thus there has to be freedom of choice.

    Love, as I understand it within catholicism, has no rules in terms of gender. It is only sexual acts that cause moral problems with catholic faith. However unlikely, true married heterosexual catholics will only have sex when attempting to procreate. It is also unlikely, but entirely possible that a gay couple in love may never have sex. And thus, their love would not be sinful in the eyes of the catholic church, at least as I understand it. I understand the problematic nature of calling a relationship like this “marriage” within catholicism. However, for most people in this state, marriage is not defined by catholicism, but rather by the state. It is more often than not a legal document, not a religious one, which is unfortunate, but it has been that way for centuries.

    I am not a lauded scholar of catholicism and its history, but I have grown up in its community and have studied much of it in school, and I have gained a great respect for catholicism, despite the horrific happenings of late and in its history. In addition and somewhat tangentially to my thoughts on gay marriage, I would also like to express my increasing sadness of seeing the majority of catholics aligning themselves with the political right. Certainly issues like abortion drive these decisions for many catholics, and I understand this argument very clearly. But what of the poor? What of the unfortunate? What of the role of catholics to take care of the needy, the sick, to fight for the underprivileged? For me charity outweighs the issue of abortion. The right has aligned religion with promoting the wealthy at the cost of the poor. And I find it deplorable that catholics choose to align themselves with these voices. It is a horrible truth to democracy that many go overlooked because of majority statistics. But even still, the thought of maintaining social programs to help the less fortunate, the sick, and raising thousands upon thousands of poor people out of poverty into happy lives and protecting many from slipping into these afflictions outweighs the unlikely possibility of overturning roe vs. wade.