On Sunday, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was interviewed on Meet The Press, and he made two quotes worth noting related to LGBT issues. One quote indicates that Pope Francis seems to be having an influence on the cardinal’s language concerning LGBT issues, but the second one shows that there might be disagreement between these church leaders.
When host David Gregory asked him to respond to Michael Sam, the NFL draft prospect who recently came out, the cardinal had this to say:
“Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. . . . look the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, ‘Bravo.’ “
Gay Star Newsreported this information. Dolan’s quote seems to echo Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?” line.
In the same interview, Cardinal Dolan indicated that he believes Pope Francis is interested in exploring the issue of civil unions. According to Religion News Service, Dolan answered a question about pope’s recent interview with an Italian newspaper by saying that he thought
“. . .Francis was telling Catholics that ‘we need to think about that and look into it and see the reasons that have driven’ the public to accept them.”
“ ‘It wasn’t as if he came out and approved them,’ said Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic bishop and the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. ‘But Francis was instead saying, “Rather than quickly condemn them … let’s just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people.” ‘ “
But Dolan and Pope Francis might not see eye to eye on this issue:
“When host David Gregory asked Dolan if accepting civil unions would make him ‘uncomfortable,’ Dolan said it would because it could ‘water down’ the traditional religious view of marriage.”
In last week’s blog post about Pope Francis’ interview, we noted that there seemed to be reasons to doubt whether the pope was speaking about same-gender civil unions when he made his remarks. He was, at best, ambiguous. It is significant that as prominent a church leader as Cardinal Dolan has interpreted the pope’s comments as indicating interest in same-gender unions–perhaps a sign that discussions of supporting lesbian and gay relationships are on the agendas of church leaders.
As the year 2013 winds to a close, it’s time to review the news of the Catholic LGBT world of the past 12 months. In today’s post, we will look at the stories of the worst happenings of the past year, and in tomorrow’s post, we will look at the best stories. Bondings 2.0 asked you for your feedback on what the worst and best news stories of the past year were, so the ranking of these stories is based on your responses. The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five. Thank you to all who participated.
One comment before we get to the list. As we prepared the list of 20 “nominees” for the top 10 worst stories, we were struck by the fact that it was difficult to find 20 big stories to fit the bill. As you will note, many of the “nominees” were reports of one-time statements by bishops. Though many of these stories reveal that much work remains to be done in terms of educating the hierarchy and other church leaders about LGBT issues, we thought it was remarkable that there were really only a handful of negative stories that maintained any “staying power” this year.
Conversely, we found it difficult to keep the list of “nominees” for the “Best” list to only 20. We’ll see the results of that survey tomorrow, but on the whole, it looks like 2013 has had more good than bad happen for those interested in Catholic LGBT issues!
The Top 10 Worst Stories:
1. On the day that Illinois’ marriage equality bill is signed into law by its Catholic governor, Springfield’s Bishop Thomas Paprocki holds a public prayer service, including the rite of exorcism, against the new legal reality. 15%
4. Pope Benedict XVI opens the year with a New Year’s Day message on peace which says, in part. that allowing same-gender couples to marry is “an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace. 9%
6. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan says that asking lesbian and gay people to follow official church teaching on sexual expression is no different than asking dinner guests to wash their dirty hands. 7%
7. Detroit’s Archbishop Allen Vigneron states that Catholics who support marriage equality should not present themselves for Communion. 5%
San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who is also the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Defense of Marriage, states “Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalizing male breastfeeding.” 4%
Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s interview with NBC over Thanksgiving weekend sparked controversy after the prelate claimed the hierarchy was not “anti-gay” and had been merely “out-marketed” on marriage equality. Bondings 2.0 pointed out in a previous post how the cardinal’s claims are wrong and called for the US bishops to engage in self-reflection. Below are excerpts from commentary on Dolan’s interview from other LGBT and Catholic voices.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, religion editor at The Huffington Post, writes to Dolan with a prophetic reminder that change will, and is, coming from Catholics on LGBT matters:
“No Cardinal Dolan, the Catholic Church hierarchy hasn’t been ‘outmarketed’ on gay marriage, nor have you been ‘caricatured’ as anti-gay. The hard truth is that, while right on so many of the most important issues of our time, the Catholic Church leadership in America is wrong on the question of gay marriage…
“What is happening with increasing speed is that Americans do understand the Catholic Church’s position but that people just don’t agree with its conclusions. In fact, even Catholics themselves don’t agree with the Bishops position as polls show a majority of them are for gay marriage…
“The truth is, the Catholic Church, along with most religious traditions will eventually have to change their positions on LGBT people. It will take a long, long time. I certainly don’t expect to live to see the Catholic Church hierarchy change official dogma on the issue. But I have faith that they will.”
Rick Garcia, a Catholic who works with The Civil Rights Agenda, explains why the bishops are perceived negatively by many in the LGBT and allies community:
“The Church is perceived as anti-gay not because it teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman but because its bishops have lied about gay people and our lives, have demonized us and have persecuted priests, Sisters and parishes that minister authentically to gay people and our families. In addition, some bishops have threatened and tried to intimidate Catholic legislators who support equality and justice for all.
“The Catholic bishops have spent millions of dollars fighting hate crimes legislation and laws banning housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation…Most egregious the bishops have threatened to not support the immigration reform bill if it includes same-sex couples.
“The bishops consistently reduce gay people to their genitals and what they do or do not do with them and a number of bishops have supported and promoted dangers programs that seek to change gay people’s sexual orientation. The bishops have opposed any legislation or policy changes that would affirm gay people’s right to be treated equitably under the law. That is why the Church is perceived as anti-gay. It is not a caricature it is a sad reality.”
Finally, Bryan Cones at U.S. Catholicquestions why America’s bishops seem incapable of recognizing goods, though imperfect in their eyes:
” ‘Blame Hollywood’ is a tried-and-true tactic for losses on the culture war front, but I think the truth on this one is the personal experience of many Americans, Catholics included, of the same-gender relationships in their own family and social circles. And while Dolan may decry the “anti-gay” label that has been applied by many to the Catholic Church, he may want to check in with his brother bishop in Illinois, who responded to same-gender marriage in Illinois with a firebreathing exorcism, blessedly ‘performed’ mostly in Latin. I think most observers would see that as ‘anti-gay.’ …
“Effectively engaging issues of social justice and religious freedom, however, requires something Dolan and his brother bishops seem unwilling to do: accept and expand the good, especially when the perfect is politically out of reach. In both the health care reform and marriage equality debates, the bishops could have grasped the “goods”: a massive prolife victory in the extension of health care in the first, and, in the second, an affirmation of an institution that publicly commits those who enter it to fidelity and stability (albeit an expansion at odds with church teaching). In neither case are the bishops likely to get everything they want, but there are goods to celebrated there nonetheless, and in the case of health care, to be expanded upon.”
On a slightly different note, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show had this to say about Cardinal Dolan’s interview:
“Maybe in this situation it’s not about marketing. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe the Catholic Church is in this instance in the morally inferior position…”
The “dirty hands” action staged at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, May 5th, will be repeated on Sunday, May 26th, as a response to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent blog post where he compared welcoming lesbian and gay people to church as comparable to inviting guests for dinner, but asking them to wash their hands first. Those who took part in the May 5th action arrived at the cathedral with their hands blackened with coal, and said they would pray in vigil when they entered the church building. However, they were barred from entering the cathedral by NYC police officers and church staff, who, despite promises to the contrary, feared those taking part in the action would disrupt the 10:15 a.m. Mass.
Joseph Amodeo, a gay Catholic who organized the first action, explained the details of the upcoming event on his Facebook page:
“Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 as we return to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in response to Cardinal Dolan’s article that called upon gay people to wash their hands before entering the church. Again, we’ll be attending with hopes of participating in the 10:15am Mass with ash rubbed on our hands, so as to stand in solidarity with LGBT people.
“As a reminder: This will not be a protest, it will be a silent and powerful witness to our belief that God welcomes all. Therefore, there will be no disturbance during the Mass, no signs, etc.
“We’ll begin to meet in front of Barnes & Noble on 5th Ave and 46 St at 9am. We’ll distribute the ash there and then proceed as a group to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We will head to St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 9:45am.
“All people are welcome to join us in this act of solidarity. Please be sure to arrive on time at 9am at Barnes & Noble. If you have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Respect for the sacred nature of the Eucharist is of the utmost concern of the organizers. In light of this, we are encouraging those who are participating and who wish to receive the Eucharist to wash their hands using a supplied “handi-wipe” as they prepare to receive the Eucharist or as an alternative can receive the Eucharist on their tongue. Upon returning to the pew, those who washed their hands may wish to re-soil. This action will not only maintain respect and reverence for the Eucharist, but will also hold a symbolic meaning — we are all clean before Christ even if some members of the Church’s hierarchy view us has having dirty hands.”
Several commentators on The Huffington Post reflected on some of the implications of the original May 5th action. James Lescene, co-founder of The Trevor Project, noted that though he left the Catholic church as a young adult, today’s youth seem more willing to stay in the church and try to change it:
“. . . as I’ve traveled around the country over the past year talking with LGBTQ young people, I’ve been surprised to discover that many of them are not so willing to walk away as I once did. They refuse to leave their churches and mosques and temples, and they will not allow themselves to be persuaded to turn away so easily from the promise of God’s love or to deny their own innate sense of spirituality. As far as they’re concerned, faith is as much a part of themselves as their sexual orientation or gender identity — all of it complex, mysterious and ultimately unknowable except through experience. They are more likely to wonder what’s ailing the institution that has closed its doors and heart against them than they are to question the validity of their own love. Certain that God does not want them to be cast out of anything, they are hanging in there, challenging their pastors and priests and continuing to be a burr in the side of their congregations.
“For these young people, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ is no longer an acceptable response to the complex reality of their lives. They want more. Like anyone else in this world, they want the opportunity to love and to be loved, and they are ready to fight for that right. Even when parents send them packing, a few are able to hold to the idea that God won’t give up on them so easily.”
“So what about queer Catholics? From what should they wash their hands? Your Eminence, I can’t answer that question without looking closely at the lives of each and everyone one of them. Neither can you. They are so varied, and have been so long ignored by the Church hierarchy, that there is no one place in the Tradition to which I can point and say, ‘Look there.’ The one thing I can say is that Nature — which might be the God of some atheists, but is certainly not our God — is not the standard by which to understand the lives of LGBT Catholics. Look for grace instead. If you want to see what God is making with our lives and our loves, if you want to help us grow further in that love, you need to spend more time listening to us. A lot more time.
“And you need to share what you hear with our brothers and sisters across the globe. Because the real challenge we face as a Church is not an attitude of ‘anything goes.’ Our real problem is that, like the resentful brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, we are all afraid that someone is getting away with something while we are being good. Till he comes again, Jesus has placed you and your brother bishops, our elder siblings, in the role of the Father, who needs to tell us all, ‘Rejoice! Your brothers and sisters, married, celibate, and queer, were all dead, and now they are all alive!’ “
Joseph Amodeo, the actions’ organizer, reflected on these witnesses by putting them in the context of a November 2012 meeting he had with Cardinal Dolan about welcoming LGBT people into the church:
“Toward the end of our time together, Cardinal Dolan asked me what I expected him to do in light of Church teaching. In turn, I asked Cardinal Dolan to write a letter of welcome to the gay community. I suggested that he avoid sexuality and instead focus on the person. To my surprise, he agreed to write the letter and suggested that Catholic New York or his blog might be an appropriate venue. It’s what he said next that caught me off-guard: He said that he would share the letter with me in advance so as to make sure that it would be viewed as pastoral and sensitive to the LGBT experience. Sadly, that is not what ended up happening. And I wouldn’t mind if the resulting letter was a ‘welcome,’ but his recent blog post, ‘All Are Welcome,’ came with caveats and conditions. In many ways, a welcome with conditions is no welcome at all.”
Though the actions have been called “protests,” Amodeo explained that protest is not the intent, but that they are there to witness to human dignity:
“Lastly, over the past few days, I have been reflecting on the greatest protest of all that occurs in churches around the country every Sunday: the sign of peace. In that moment, Christians around the world protest the very barriers that on the surface appear to divide us. At the instance upon which we share the sign of peace, we protest a world of judgment and violence to discover a moment of serenity defined not by differences, but by our common humanity.
“In the coming weeks, we will return to St. Patrick’s Cathedral with clean hearts filled with charity and our hands bearing witness to our own humanity. We can only hope that we will be permitted to share in the sign of peace, so that we may help to change hearts and minds to slowly see the inherent dignity of all people without exception.”
Bondings 2.0 has been covering the story of Nicholas Coppola, a gay Catholic volunteer lay minister at a parish on Long Island, N.Y., who was dismissed from his parish ministries because an anonymous letter-writer alerted the pastor that Coppola married his long-time partner. We reported on the announcement of his dismissal, we reported on his collection of over 18,000 signatures on a petition for his re-instatement, and we reported on the bizarre response he received from his bishop to that petition.
Today we feature a Bondings 2.0 exclusive interview with Mr. Coppola on what the experience of his dismissal has been like, as well as how he has responded to the amazing outpouring of support he has received from Catholics all over the country. The interview gives a personal insight into this faith-filled man.
Coppola has also initiated another petition, this one to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, asking the prelate to break bread with Coppola and his family. You can sign that petition here.
The Interview: Nicholas Coppola
How did you come to your decision to publicly announce that the pastor had dismissed you from parish ministries?
It was a very difficult decision. At first, I thought I could meet with Bishop Murphy and have a dialogue about my removal. I was hopeful that if Bishop Murphy took the time to get to know me and David, it might soften his heart and realize that gay married couples are the same as any other loving couple. After two meetings with Auxiliary Bishop Brennan, his response was that “his hands are tied.” Then, after hearing Cardinal Dolan’s comments on Easter Sunday about the Catholic Church needing to do a better job with expressing their welcome to gay and lesbian people, I knew my story needed to be told.
Have you had any interaction with the pastor since your story made news?
I see Fr. Nicholas Lombardi on a regular basis as I have in the past. This is due to the fact that my attendance at Mass has not changed and St. Anthony’s parishioners continue to welcome and support us.
Are you still a parishioner at the parish? How are other parishioners reacting to your dismissal?
I will remain a parishioner as long as I have the support of other parishioners, and they have been incredibly supportive. Even as things in the public arena have quieted down, the parishioners are still asking for answers to their questions. They have written letters and have made phone calls to both the Pastor and Bishop William Murphy. I believe this has actually brought the St. Anthony’s Community closer together.
Did you ever think of leaving Catholicism because of being dismissed?
No. The Catholic Church is my foundation, how I was raised by my parents.
What has sustained you spiritually as you have been going through this ordeal?
I described it to a group of people the other day as becoming “spiritually independent.” I don’t rely on the brick and mortar of the church to maintain my relationship with God. I am so thankful to the Jesuits for the blessing of learning Ignatian spirituality: “Find God in all things.” I did the Jesuit spiritual exercises several years ago, and it was an incredible experience.
If you had an opportunity to meet with Bishop Murphy and/or Cardinal Dolan, what would you tell them?
I would start by telling them our story. They need to know who we are and who our families are. I will not be telling them anything that they don’t already know: that there are many gay and lesbian people and their families who are a vibrant part of the Catholic Church. I would want them to know how much we love our Church.
You collected 18,000 signatures on a petition to be re-instated. I imagine the overwhelming support that you have received has strengthened you. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience has felt like?
The experience of support is not realized until after it happened. Reading some of the comments people wrote about what my story meant to them, hearing people’s stories of struggle and joy was all amazing. They asked me to continue on in my search for justice.
We have seen a number of stories recently of gay and lesbian church workers and volunteers being dismissed from their jobs and ministries. What advice do you have for LGBT people working in the church?
It is our Church. Nobody can remove you from your faith. Share your story.
What have you learned from this experience?
God’s Love for all is real and unconditional.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes are that gay and lesbian people, married or not, are loved, accepted, and respected in the church. We are past needing the support from people in the pews. We have it. We now need it from the hierarchy. My short term hope is to have a meeting with Cardinal Dolan to help him welcome lesbian gay people in the church.
Responses to Cardinal Dolan’s Easter Sunday comments keep pouring in. If nothing else, it shows how his comments struck nerves, both positively and negatively. It shows how much affirmative words from the hierarchy are needed, and it shows how important it is that the hierarchy go beyond just words to send a positive message to LGBT people.
“. . . getting weary of bishops and cardinals who tell me how much they love my gay and lesbian friends and I, while at the same time willfully misunderstanding us, refusing to talk to us and devaluing our relationships.”
Her analysis continues by pointing out several actions that Dolan has taken recently that emphatically do not show love for LGBT people:
Refusing to respond to a letter and petition written by Joseph Amodeo, a former member of the junior board of Catholic Charities of the New York archdiocese, pleading with Dolan to meet with LGBT homeless youth, many of whom were thrown out of their homes by religious parents. Amodeo later resigned from the board, without public reaction from Dolan.
After reviewing similar actions and statements by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Pope Francis (when he was archbishop in Argentina), Manson provides an eloquent depiction of what true love is, which seems to echo St. Paul’s famous description in 1 Corinithians 13:
“While it may be true that Dolan, Cordileone and even the new pope are seeking a more pastoral approach to gays and lesbians, I really wish that they would stop calling it love.
“Love does not ignore letters pleading for dialogue and reconciliation.
“Love does not turn away spiritually hungry people from God’s Eucharistic table.
“Love does not use spiritually violent rhetoric against a marginalized community’s fight for justice.
“When we love another person, we genuinely desire to know her or him. When we love, we long to listen to the beloved and to learn his or her story. To love in this way, we must be authentically present to the beloved. This kind of love is risky because it demands vulnerability on the parts of both the lover and the beloved.
“If members of the hierarchy took the risk of truly listening to gay and lesbian couples, they might find, as the majority of U.S. Catholics have, that many of these couples equally embody the faithfulness, devotion, sacrifice and fruitfulness that characterize the best heterosexual relationships.
“They might open themselves up to the possibility that God is speaking new truths through the voices and lives of gay and lesbian couples and transgender persons. They might see that not only are same-sex couples entitled to equal rights and protection, they have as much potential to honor the institution of marriage as opposite-sex couples.”
Equally Blessed‘s Marianne Duddy-Burke and Mary Ellen Lopata, in an on-line New York Times op-ed, offer some suggetions to Cardinal Dolan to how he could back up his words of welcome with real actions. Among the items they suggest for the bishops are:
Dropping opposition to immigration reform that would allow partners in same-sex couples to enter the U.S. legally
Adopting anti-bullying programs in Catholic schools
Changing to more pastoral tone and content when referring to LGBT people
Dissociate the U.S. hierarchy from the National Organization for Marriage
Abandon opposition to allowing lesbian and gay couples to adopting children.
They conclude their list with:
“Perhaps most important, the bishops should stop hiding from us. There is no reason the bishops, priests and deacons of every diocese in the United States cannot hold regular meetings with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their families to allow them to speak honestly about their experiences within the church. The result might not always be agreement, but at least it could be a spirit of respect and openness.
“We suspect that some of these recommendations will be received more warmly than others. But having them received at all would be progress for which we might one day have Cardinal Dolan to thank.”
In a similar vein, Ross Murray of GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in an online Washington Post op-ed, suggests three ways for Cardinal Dolan to back up his Easter Sunday message:
“1.Cardinal Dolan needs to stop talking about LGBT people and spend more time listening to them.”
“2.If Cardinal Dolan cannot talk about LGBT people without uttering words of condemnation, he should simply stop talking about LGBT people in general.”
“3.Cardinal Dolan could turn his stated love into tangible action that would help real LGBT people in their day-to-day lives.”
Murrayelaborates on each of these three points in his essay, and he concludes with:
“God’s love is felt, not simply stated. When Cardinal Dolan makes such blatant attacks on LGBT people, it makes his ‘I love you and God loves you’ in front of the media ring hollow. Such expressions of love need to be backed up with tangible action. Do something that demonstrates that church leaders view LGBT people as more than a threat or a curse.
“Cardinal Dolan can keep saying that he loves us and God does too, but until he turns away from the camera to actually listen to the stories of our lives, these words will have no meaning.”
Clearly, Cardinal Dolan has his work cut out for him. The challenge to him is the challenge that all Christians face: to make the Gospel incarnate in the world. With all of the commentary and suggestions and support offered to him to do something tangible, Cardinal Dolan should have an easier time deciding what to do next. The ball is in his court.
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.