US Catholic Faith in Real Life

NYC's Archbishop Dolan is against gay marriage. But is he for civil unions?

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

As four New York State senators announced yesterday their willingness to support same-sex marriage in the Empire State, the state's "top Catholic"--as the New York Daily News dubs him--Archbishop Timothy Dolan unleashed a powerful denunciation of the possibility of the legislation's passage in a blog post today.

But couched among his comparisons of the state of New York to "China or North Korea . . . [where] government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values, and natural law," is Dolan's acknowledgment that "the state has rightly changed many laws to offer [gay] men and women hospital visitation rights, bereavement leave, death benefits, insurance benefits, and the like." In other words, it's good that the state granted access to those benefits to same-sex couples. That's also what Illinois' recent creation of civil unions did, though the state's Catholic conference opposed it.

Many suggest Dolan is a new kind of bishop, conservative but less doctrinaire and more likeable than many more hardline bishops. I find his whole post to be somewhat overblown, and I wish he would acknowledge that there are gay and lesbian people in the Catholic communion when he writes about this stuff. But I think it's interesting that even he admits that gay and lesbian people deserve legal protections for their families, even while insisting that (civil) marriage cannot be one of them.

Is this a way forward for the hierarchy on this issue? Time will tell.