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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Apology Is in Order, Archbishop Dolan

By Julie Collorafi

Archbishop Dolan and Governor Cuomo: Fraternal Correction or Affirmation?
Last week on his blog the Archbishop of New York gamely offered his post-game analysis of the momentous struggle in Albany over the same-sex marriage bill.

Among the noteworthy points Archbishop Dolan made was a handsome acknowledgement of the efforts of the "millions" of many faiths who went to the state capitol or made and sent hundreds of thousands of phone calls and emails in those tumultuous two weeks.

However, it’s difficult to understand why the prestigious prelate, almost in the same breath, found it necessary to extend a lengthy apology to the members of the gay community offended by his "strenuous defense of marriage."

Many Catholics like myself are thankful for the public statements Archbishop Dolan made opposing the bill in the final days before its passage, especially in the conspicuous absence of similar statements from his brother bishops in the New York Catholic Bishops Conference. The affable Metropolitan was far more visible in the thick of the fight than the other New York bishops, but, really, one can hardly describe a radio interview, a blog post and one Sunday morning sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a "strenuous defense of marriage," especially when hundreds of ministers of other faiths traveled to Albany, lobbied lawmakers in person for days, and demonstrated on the streets at pro-traditional marriage rallies across the state.

New York Catholics remember well that their bishops spared no effort or expense last year to organize the laity in opposing a bill to suspend the statute of limitations in clerical abuse cases. Urgent messages appeared for weeks in parish bulletins and busloads of clergy and laypeople journeyed to Albany where the bill was successfully halted, so a similar campaign against same-sex marriage was expected this time around.

Inexplicably, however, the New York bishops barely responded to the far more pressing situation last month. Many traditional marriage supporters in Albany were dismayed by the absence of Catholic priests and bishops at the state capitol and were stunned to discover in the first critical week of negotiations that Archbishop Dolan and the entire New York Catholic Bishops’ Conference had quietly skipped town to attend a USCCB meeting in Seattle.

Even the New York Times commented on the anemic, lack-lustre response of the New York Catholic bishops, a response that was mystifying given the far-reaching and disastrous effects experts agree this new law will have on religious liberty and the relationship between church and state in New York.

Despite Archbishop Dolan’s inspiring allusions in his post to St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas More who both lost their heads for opposing the degradation of marriage, the fact remains that, unlike the example of these two valiant and prophetic men, the New York Catholic Bishops’ participation in the campaign against same-sex marriage was amazingly flaccid and inept.

Most observers will agree that a certain former NFL football player exhibited far more courage than most Catholic bishops when he ventured into public to deliver his own resounding message against the marriage equality bill. (In my opinion, David Tyree delivered a far more articulate and theologically sound defense of traditional marriage in his brave video interview than clerics with miles of credentials and an abundance of doctrinal and pastoral expertise.)

If the Archbishop insists on apologizing to gays for his mild statements opposing same-sex marriage, then he also owes an apology to all the faithful Catholics who spent weeks in the trenches protesting our Democrat governor's vigorous and concerted attack on traditional marriage.

Much more than the gay community, we deserve our bishops’ sincere regrets for not supporting our efforts and for failing to explain tirelessly in a clear, compassionate and rational way Catholic doctrine on marriage and sexual morality.


Julie Collorafi is a graduate of Christendom College who currently homeschools her children, writes educational textbooks and is an organist in the Diocese of Brooklyn. 


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