Thanks to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for making available a transcript of today’s interview between ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulus and New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan on This Week with George Stephanopoulus in which Dolan speaks positively of gay and lesbian people. The entire section on gay and lesbian people is available here. The following is an important excerpt:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you know, especially this week – because it’s been at the top of the news – for many gay and lesbian Americans –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – gay and lesbian Catholics, they feel unwelcome –
CARDINAL DOLAN: They do.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – in the Church. And what do you say as a minister, as a pastor – to a gay couple that comes to you and say, “We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we –
CARDINAL DOLAN: Uh-huh.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: – want to raise a family in faith.”
CARDINAL DOLAN: Sure.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you say to them?
CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, “I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.” But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially 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 be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. 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 – about marriage. And it’s one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life. We gotta do better to try to dis – take that away from being anti-anybody. And – and I admit –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you do that?
CARDINAL DOLAN: We haven’t been too good –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, how do you do that?
CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, I don’t know. We’re still – we’re – we’re tryin’. We’re tryin’ our best to do it. We gotta listen to people, like the couple that you just described – that say, “We don’t feel comfortable here.”
Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me. But you got a point. Sometimes we’re not as successful or as effective as we can be in translating that warm embrace into also teaching what God has told us about the way He wants us –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And that challenge –
CARDINAL DOLAN: – to live.
Congratulations to Mr. Stephanopoulos for asking these tough questions and eliciting such a positive response. Thank you to Cardinal Dolan for finally speaking positively about gay and lesbian Catholics and admitting that the church can do better in their regard. Many thanks to GLAAD for making this transcript available.
This is the first time that the cardinal has made such a positive statement about God’s love for lesbian and gay people. Such a statement is a refreshing change from the usual harsh rhetoric that the church hierarchy uses when discussing LGBT issues. It is a significant sign of welcome and outreach. Cardinal Dolan’s statement is nothing short of an Easter miracle.
Cardinal Dolan now has to back up these words with actions. Later in the interview he said that church leaders “gotta listen to people,” referring to lesbian and gay persons. If Dolan meant what he said, he should open a dialogue with lesbian and gay people, especially Catholics, to learn more about their pain and struggle , but also about their joy and faith. New Ways Ministry stands ready to help Dolan identify people with whom he can begin to dialogue.
It is no accident that such a positive message comes with the beginning of the new papacy of Pope Francis. He has set a new tone of humility and reconciliation in the church which did not exist under Benedict XVI. We hope and pray that the new pope’s example will continue to inspire other church leaders to seek out those on the margins and welcome them into the fold.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry