ROME, April 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Experts say, despite an apparently softer tone on homosexuals from two leading American cardinals, the Roman Catholic Church will not and cannot shift its moral teaching on same-sex "marriage" or the grave sin of homosexual acts.

Cardinals Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., both said in separate interviews that the Church would not be altering its position on “gay marriage” but both are being praised by Terrence Weldon, a British homosexual activist and author of the blog “Queering the Church”.

In an interview with This Week on Easter Sunday, Dolan was asked what he would say to “a gay couple who told him: ‘We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we want to raise a family in faith.’”

Dolan replied, “When it comes to sexual love, that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.”

“We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people,” Dolan added. “And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about…marriage. And it’s one man-one woman, forever, to bring about new life.”

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In a Fox News interview this weekend, Cardinal Wuerl commented that “gay” Catholics fall into the same kind of category as those who have divorced and remarried, a situation that normally precludes them from receiving Communion.

Fox’s Chris Wallace asked, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that there is a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage,” what Cardinal Wuerl would say to “gays who are good Catholics…who believe that God made them that way and who want to commit to a partner?”

Wuerl responded, “The Church is probably…with 20 centuries of experience…probably the most understanding of the human condition of any institution. But at the same time it does remind not only gay people but heterosexual people, straight people, ‘You’re not supposed to be following a moral law apart from what Christ has said to us.’”

When asked if the couple would be allowed to continue in the Church without clerics recognizing their "marriage," Wuerl said" “Well, we do that same thing with people who are married and divorced and remarried. We say, ‘You’re still part of the family, but we can’t recognize that second marriage. We do that, and it’s never been a great problem.”

He added that people in such unions should continue to “walk as close to Christ as you can. That’s why we’re here. Come to Mass. Participate in the life of the Church.”    

Whether these comments were intended as a softening or a distancing from the Church’s official teaching on the nature of marriage, they are being taken as such by homosexual activists seeking to force the Church to change and secular media.

Terrence Weldon, an organizer of the notorious Soho Masses in London, wrote on his blog “Queering the Church” that the language used by Wuerl moves the Church a step closer to accepting “gay marriage” and homosexuality.

Thus far, Weldon said that the “orthotoxic” language usually used by churchmen about homosexuality, “especially the description as an ‘intrinsically disordered’ condition, leads many of us to assume that Catholic doctrine is especially discriminatory towards us.”

But Weldon said Wuerl’s comments, taken together with Dolan’s, do “point to part at least of a workable response.”

“Cardinal Wuerl’s recognition that married gay Catholics are in a position no different to those who have remarried after divorce, ‘and it’s never been a great problem,’ is a helpful step forward,” Weldon said. The key, he said, is that in practice, the “formal rules,” are “ignored” in most parishes where “a more sensitive, pastoral welcome applies instead.”

“I hope that married gay and lesbian Catholics will take Cardinal Wuerl at his word, and take their places in Catholic parishes alongside other married couples – and expect the equal treatment, without encountering ‘great problems,’ that the Cardinal has given them grounds to expect,” he wrote.

But Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions of Human Life International, said that any suggestion to the contrary, Cardinal Wuerl’s comments cannot be taken as any kind of softening by the Church on homosexuality or “gay marriage.”

“Despite what some anti-Catholic activists wish he said,” Fr. West told LifeSiteNews.com, “Cardinal Wuerl simply restated the Church’s long held position that the Church preaches love for sinners -- which includes all of us -- but a hatred of sin.”

The issue of how the Church deals with those who openly flout its moral teachings has always resolved onto the pinpoint question of reception of Communion at Mass.

Asked whether persons in same-sex unions would be refused Holy Communion, a spokesman for the cardinal told LifeSiteNews.com today, “The interview speaks for itself. We’re not doing interviews on what the cardinal said.”

But Fr. West clarified the Church’s official teaching.

He told LifeSiteNews.com, “Catholics of good will are welcomed to Mass, but only Catholics in the state of grace are allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist, which is a statement of communion with the Church. Catholics who publicly reject Church doctrine and are living in grave sin are called to repentance out of a pastoral concern for their souls, and a desire for their return to communion.”

Wuerl himself, however, has long been a leading voice among the U.S. bishops who “refuse to refuse” Communion to those who publicly flout Catholic moral teaching.

Despite clear instructions from Rome and multiple criticisms from prominent Catholics, including the Vatican’s chief canonist Raymond Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Wuerl’s responses have been consistent on the issue of whether he will refuse Communion to those in a state of what the Church’s Canon Law calls “manifest,” or publicly known, “grave sin.”

In 2007 Wuerl, was asked, as the bishop closest to the national political scene, whether he would discipline the strongly pro-abortion Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by refusing her Communion. Wuerl told California Catholic Daily reporter Allyson Smith, “I will not be using the faculty in that, in the manner you have described.”

When Smith pressed him on whether he would tell priests to refuse her Communion, the archbishop said, “You’re talking about a whole different style of pastoral ministry. No, thank you.”

And Wuerl has backed up his convictions with actions. In March last year, he stripped a priest of his faculties to celebrate Mass for refusing Communion to a woman who was known to have been living in a homosexual relationship. Fr. Marcel Guarnizo was “placed on administrative leave” by the archdiocese after he refused to distribute Communion to Barbara Johnson, a self-identified Buddhist who had reportedly introduced her lesbian “lover” to the priest in the sacristy right before her mother’s funeral Mass. The Archdiocese issued an apology to Johnson and said that Fr. Guarnizo’s actions were “against policy” and that an investigation was underway.

Wuerl’s position on refusing Communion closely follows that of his predecessor as Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, who told the business news site Bloomberg on the weekend that he has “no problems” with homosexual civil unions.

Bloomberg’s interviewer asked McCarrick the same question that Wallace presented to Wuerl, given that “the majority of Catholics according to polls now favor same-sex marriage. If two gays or two lesbians came to you for counsel, what would you tell them?”

McCarrick responded, “Well, I would tell them to try to be as good as they can, to try to be as -- as faithful as they can. They can be good friends. The difficulty is we believe that the sacrament of marriage is made for a man and a woman.”

Asked if he has “any problems with civil unions?” McCarrick responded, “No. I have no problem if this is the situation that…I certainly would prefer that to…what I would call a 'marriage' in quotes.”