The Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, was one of the strongest voices in the struggle against New York’s same-sex marriage law, and now he’s continuing to speak out, weeks after the legislation was decisively passed. On his blog, Dolan mused about the pandora’s box that New York thoughtlessly opened when it legalized same-sex marriage. Today, he writes, by “re-defining marriage,” we are leaving the door open for the state to sanction infidelity and polygamy.
According to Dolan, the Church has issued timely warnings about divorce, contraception, and pre-marital sex, but to no avail. ”And now we ring the steeple bell again,” he writes, “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.”
The blog post is rife with sexism, fear-mongering and thinly veiled homophobia, and attempts to make a victim of the Catholic Church, which is difficult to buy. Dolan is clearly smarting after his aggressive denunciations of same-sex marriage failed to stop the bill from passing. He has also tried, even before same-sex marriage became legal in New York, to shift the conversation from marriage equality to freedom of religion.
Last month, he spoke about the “the presumptive omnipotence of the state” for allowing the possibility of gay marriage to appear, and denounced the “new religion of secularism that feels it’s going to come to a theocracy and impose its values on society.” He referenced recent cases in which couples who were opposed to same-sex marriage were denied adoption rights as an example of this new oppression.
Apparently Dolan is still afraid that Catholics will be “harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.” This is ironic, considering that the New York Catholic Church is completely willing to reject members of its community for supporting same-sex marriage. A Brooklyn Catholic school recently refused a donation from a New York assemblyman who has been sending small graduation gifts to the school for decades. Why? He voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Dolan repeats several times that he is not “anti-anybody, but simply pro marriage.” But his words and actions demonstrate just how out of touch the Catholic hierarchy is with the needs of LGBT Catholics, many of whom are determined to remain in the Church, despite its openly homophobic interpretations of Christian theology. In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, Catholic researcher Joseph Amadeo calls on gay Catholics to live out an inclusive, loving vision of Christianity, rather than the one espoused by Catholic leaders. It’s a hard pill to swallow, given the narrowness and absolutism of Archbishop Dolan’s views, but for people who see their Christian faith as a force for good, it’s a brave and ethical choice.
Photo from maveric2003 via flickr.