By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW YORK, February 26, 2010 ( – Following a period of relative silence since his installation last year, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan eagerly took an opportunity to set forth Church teaching on controversial points, including the forbidding of public honors for pro-abortion politicians, in a recent interview with NY1. The bishop also asserted that his outspokenness on such issues was simply part of his job as shepherd and teacher of the faith.

When NY1 News reporter Roma Torre asked whether a pro-abortion Catholic should be invited to a “Catholic event” such as the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Dolan’s response was unequivocal.

“Actually, Roma, I don’t think we should invite anybody that would take a stance [in favor of] abortion, because this is not a Catholic issue,” he replied.

The archbishop later clarified that his answer pertained to giving public honors to such persons.

“In our mind, being opposed to abortion, is a civil rights issue, it’s a natural law issue, it’s not a Catholic issue,” Dolan continued. “We’d be uncomfortable in anybody that would, say, promote a stand that would be for bigotry, or against civil rights, because that’s contrary not only to the teaching of the Church but to what we would call civil rights and the natural law.”

The archbishop said that a pro-abortion Catholic such as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo would be “welcome” to a Catholic event – but “there’s a difference between everybody being welcome, and providing somebody who is dramatically, radically, publically at odds with the Church on a particularly given issue to have a place of prominence and to receive an award.”

When the University of Notre Dame announced last year that the pro-abortion President Obama would offer the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree at the school, the New York archbishop condemned the invitation as a “big mistake.”

Dolan, who has earned a reputation for outspokenness promoting Catholic orthodoxy on life and family issues, explained that his goal is not to “look for headlines.” It was because of his office as teacher, he said, that he “won’t duck the tough issues.”

“It’s not like I sit down and say: How can I grab some headlines, how can I really cause a splash,” Dolan said. “You just try to do your work, and sometimes things get attention. …

“If people ask me, I feel obliged as a teacher, as the official teacher of the Archdiocese of New York, to try my best to give the Church’s wisdom here.”

Dolan noted that he was “grateful” that the New York legislature struck down a same-sex “marriage” bill last year. He also affirmed that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade should continue disallowing a gay pride banner, which would conflict with the parade’s “strong Christian identity.”

But, he said, it would be a mistake to understand the Church’s stance against such matters as mere naysaying.

Instead, he said: “the Church in a way is one big yes: one big yes to human life, one big yes to anything that advances, lifts up, enlightens, liberates legitimate human identity. We’re in the ‘yes’ business, not the ‘no’ business.

“So I get frustrated sometimes, when that’s interpreted as being ‘anti-gay,’ that’s where we kinda cringe,” he continued, “because believe it or not, we get attacked from the other extreme for defending the rights of gays and for the strong Church teaching that every single human being … is a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect.”

Dolan called the late John Cardinal O’Connor of New York, who was outspokenly pro-life, his “hero” – and acknowledged that his office calls for a “prophetic” voice, although he prefers using a persuasive tone when possible.

“There’s always a little bit of tension between those two,” said Dolan. “But occasions might call that I’ll have to be prophetic. I’m sure there’s gonna be times … that I’m gonna have to be a bit of a pitbull. In general, I like to be an Irish Setter.”

See the complete video of the NY1 television interview here