NEW YORK CITY, March 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Archdiocese of New York has told LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to congratulate a homosexual football player for coming out of the closet did not mean the cardinal “was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity.”
During an interview Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press” focusing on the “Francis effect” in the Church, host David Gregory asked the cardinal about the decision of Michael Sam, a 24-year-old senior at the University of Missouri and defensive end, to announce that he is a homosexual.
“Good for him,” Cardinal Dolan replied. “I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya.”
He added that “the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So, I would say, ‘Bravo.'”
The cardinal's reaction was more exuberant than that of Michael Sam Sr., the player's father, who told the New York Times about his son's coming out, “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.”
The archbishop's words caused consternation among some Catholic writers. Popular priest-blogger Fr. Dwight Longnecker wrote that the cardinal could have said that while he does not judge Michael Sam or “know the state of his love life,” he could not condone homosexual actions or their consequences. “There is a higher risk of disease and health problems among those who are active homosexually–especially those who are promiscuous.”
“The problem is the homosexual lobby have increasingly been unwilling to acknowledge the distinction between a person and his action,” he wrote at Patheos. “To judge a person by their sexual choices is a grave wound to the human person. We are all greater than what we do with our reproductive organs.”
The Archdiocese of New York told LifeSiteNews such criticisms are misguided.
Communications Director Joseph Zwilling told LifeSiteNews that it would be “wrong for anyone to say, or even imply, that the Cardinal’s words on Meet the Press meant that he was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity (or any other immoral behavior).”
“I believe that the Cardinal’s intention was clear,” he said in an e-mail. “The Cardinal is a very strong supporter of Courage, the Church’s ministry to those with same-sex attraction who are trying to follow the Church’s teaching.”
While the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual sexual relations are immoral, it also states that same-sex attraction itself is “objectively disordered.”
Some Catholics drew greater comfort from Cardinal Dolan's statement that he was uncomfortable with civil unions for homosexuals. Gregory raised Pope Francis' recent interview with Corriere della Sera, in which he said the concept of civil unions between homosexual couples should be studied further.
“It wasn't as if he came out and approved them,” Cardinal Dolan said. “In a sensitivity that has won the heart of the world, he said, 'Rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people.'”
“Marriage, between one man and one woman forever” is not “just a religious, sacramental concern,” he said. “It's also the building block of society and culture. … If we water down that sacred meaning of marriage in any way, I worry that not only the church would suffer, I worry that culture and society would.”
Changing social policies that have long guided Western society may curtail religious liberties that have also served as a bedrock principle, he hinted.
“In the recent rush to what you might call more liberal laws on social issues, whether that be abortion, whether that be redefinition of marriage, you will hear the people immediately say, 'Don't worry, we will never impede religions from the complete freedom that they need to exercise their faith,'” he said.
“We're afraid we've learned the hard way,” he said, that “what becomes tolerated quickly becomes obligatory for everybody…I would have to admit a certain amount of trepidation, that perhaps we're now moving in that direction.”
While opinion polls reflect the massive media push for the American people to accept homosexual unions or marriage definition, the cardinal said the church cannot change its bedrock teachings on this or any other dogmatic issue.
“When people seek God, they wanna know what God has taught,” Dolan said. “And the Church's sacred enterprise is not to conform its teaching to the values of the world.”
That, he said, earned condemnation from both sides of the political fence. “From the more Left side of society, we may be taking some sucker punches because of our views on the redefinition of marriage and the sacredness of human life in the womb. We're taking it from the other side when it comes to immigration, when it comes to capital punishment, when it comes to the rights of the poor,” he said.
While Cardinal Dolan said the church cannot change its teachings, it was necessary to “more effectively pass on God's teaching” by being “somewhat sensitive to what the world is saying, what the world is feeling.”
Dolan said Catholic traditionalists “seem to be rejoicing in what you might call the evangelical fervor” of Pope Francis' pontificate.
You may read the full transcript of the “Meet the Press” interview here.