Bishop: Pope was 'on a high' during gay remarks
Cardinal Timothy Dolan in Rome before the conclave in Rome that elected Pope Francis.
July 31st, 2013
05:53 PM ET

Bishop: Pope was 'on a high' during gay remarks

By Daniel Burke, CNN

(CNN) - The nation's leading Roman Catholic archbishop said Wednesday that Pope Francis was "on a high" from his first international trip as pontiff when he said "Who am I to judge?" gays and lesbians.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who traveled last week to Brazil with the pope for World Youth Day, said the massive turnout - estimates ran as high as 3 million - and ecstatic crowds likely gave Francis hope that he would "revive the church on his home continent of Latin America."

Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina from 1998 until his papal election in March.

"The pope was visibly `on a high' from his first international pastoral visit in Rio," Dolan said. "Understandably so. Because I was there with him, I can verify that the superlatives being used — `oceanic' crowds, `frenzied' welcomes, `inspirational, heartfelt' words — are not exaggerations at all."

On the plane from Brazil back to Rome on Monday, the pope gave an 80-minute press conference in which he addressed a number of controversial issues for the Catholic Church, including homosexuality, the ordination of women and scandals involving a so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican.

Regarding gay priests, Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

READ MORE: Pope Francis on gays: `Who am I to judge?'

The remarks were read by some as a rejection of previous church policy, including a 2005 directive that barred men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from the priesthood.

Not so, Dolan said on Wednesday in a blog post.

"No change in church teaching here . . . or no intended `correction' to a more `dour' approach by his predecessors," said Dolan.

In fact, the archbishop continued, Francis does not have the power to change church doctrine.

"Catholics know that the pope, like all of us, is a servant of the truth of the Gospel, not a crafter. Doctrine is a given; it is settled, inherited, faithfully passed on. That’s his duty, and he’s sure doing it well."

As archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan is widely considered the most powerful Catholic official in the country. He was also part of the conclave that elected Francis.

Since the pope's comments on Monday, conservatives have framed them as a change in tone, not substance, noting that Francis quoted from the Catholic Catechism and would hardly announced a change in doctrine during an impromptu press conference.

CNN Vatican analyst John Allen noted, however, that "at a certain point, tone becomes substance if it’s seen as revitalizing the prospects of the church."

READ MORE: How Pope Francis is revolutionizing the church

Rather than a change in doctrine, the pope's "brief remarks were about mercy," Dolan said.

"The church considers unjust discrimination against any homosexual a sin," the archbishop said, adding that "homosexual acts, which are contrary to Revelation...can always be healed by God's mercy."

"And when God’s mercy is sought, it is always given, the sin wiped away and forgotten; because of this, nobody — not the Pope, not a bishop, not a priest — can judge another!"

Other church-watchers noted, however, that Francis himself cited a previous pope while dismissing the possibility of women's ordination during the same airplane press conference.

"By saying that John Paul II had `definitively…closed the door to women priests,' Francis was himself pointing to the fact that popes determine church law," wrote blogger Mark Silk at Religion News Service. 

Dolan closed his blog post by lamenting that so much media coverage has concentrated on "these weary issues" rather than "the noble themes that ran through Copacabana Beach," where World Youth Day was held.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Pope Francis

soundoff (930 Responses)
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    November 27, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  2. Churchmouse77

    There is a lot of that going around...

    Pastor Tells His Louisiana Congregation a Lie while on a "power trip" and Escapes Affair with Young Intern to Join Alabama MegaChurch.... Financial Ruin, Cover Up, Illegal Firings and Buying Silence

    Read the comments and mycultlife.com to find out the real story.


    August 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  3. mzh

    25:70 – Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    25:71 – And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.

    25:72 – And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.

    25:73 – And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.

    25:74 – And those who say: "Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the righteous"

    25:75 – Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.

    25:76 – Abiding therein; excellent it is as an abode, and as a place to dwell.

    August 13, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Brian

      In other words,Allah is an unjust god who turns a blind eye to sin...sins are not dealt with at all..just glosed over....sorry..I aint going to worship that kind of god....He shows mercy only on certain people based soely on outside appearances. God of Bible is True God..SIn is dealt with, not glossed over and such. God requires a relationship..not doing good deeds as foremost

      December 3, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  4. Jim Englert

    Rio may well have been a high for the pontiff, but appears clearly to have been a downer for Dolan.

    August 11, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  5. joe

    I can't believe the media. If you get all your news about what the Catholic Church teaches through the media, you must have a completely warped view of what Catholics believe. The Church has always had the same stance towards gays: one of peace. The Pope's words are nothing new.

    August 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Jim Englert

      You do give evidence, Joe, of one rather consistent aspect of Catholic response here, and that is duplicity.

      August 11, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  6. Jim P.

    ""Catholics know that the pope, like all of us, is a servant of the truth of the Gospel, not a crafter. Doctrine is a given; it is settled, inherited, faithfully passed on. That’s his duty, and he’s sure doing it well.""

    Well, *this* gets interesting. One has to wonder what to make of the dozens of Councils held in the last two thousand years by this same church to hammer out exactly what was to be official church doctrine and the hundreds if not thousands of Papul bulls on the subject, many of which clash if you look at them as a whole. (Much of which has changed a lot over the millennia...look at the history of "Mary worship" for example or the church's position on "witchcraft". (First thousand years or so there was no such thing, then there was...go figure)

    If I am not very much mistaken, there is, even now, a major body within the highest levels of the vatican devoted to deciding just what is and is not doctrine at any given time.

    August 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  7. mzh

    And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. 5:116

    I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. 5:117

    If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. 5:118

    August 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Reality

      And again for our sister and brother Muslims:

      From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
      be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      August 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • ...

      Dear mzh
      Your quran and your "messenger don't offer you an attonment for your sin. You will stand befor your Maker na/ked in your sins. Your works don't count, because your righteousness can not be attonment for your sin. You need God's righteousness. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, who came to be a propit/iation for sins of mankind. Only through Him you can be saved. If you are really sincere, why don't you ask God to show you? And then BE QUIET and let HIM speak!

      August 9, 2013 at 12:11 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        Lame. Jesus was allegedly sent by an alleged god, to save people from the original sin committed by their ancestors, Adam and Eve. but since genetics has proven that we all did not come from one genetic set, Adam and Eve are nothing but a lie, and therefore, christianity is a lie.

        Seriously, how gullible are you people?

        August 9, 2013 at 12:21 am |
        • fred

          Dawkins sound bite #103 is false but go ahead and keep pushing it.

          August 9, 2013 at 12:31 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          First off, I have never read or heard anything by Dawkins. Second, "no it isn"t" is hardly an argument. Do you have anything to say that comes from your own mind?

          August 9, 2013 at 12:42 am |
        • fred

          Yes, I wonder what you motive is in taking down the Bible.
          I wonder why you adopt Saul of Tarsus position on Adam and Eve when he was trained under strict Jewish tradition from 753 BC. based upon the books of Moses which you yourself claim to a lie and not trust worthy. It is not trust worthy for Christians but trustworthy as your Strawman.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:01 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          We do all share a common ancestry though, so technically we do come from one genetic set in terms of the h.omo genus.


          August 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          I do not take down the bible. Reality does. Beleiving in it is denying reality.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Taking those small points and thinking it accounts for all of genetics is akin to seeing one grain of sand and saying you understand all of the beaches throughout the world. What you point to, does not make your point, or any point for that matter.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:19 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It does make a point, that everybody alive today shares a common ancestry and that alone was the point I was making. If you read anything else into my statement then you are either paranoid or retarded.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:25 am |
        • fred

          God formed man out of the dust of the Earth. How is it that you know what this means while theologians continue to argue about it? Does it mean man is product of natural processes of the Earth which does not exclude evolution. Does it meant the Popes position that the physical properties of man could be evolved is acceptable.? Adam was the first to be give a soul and all mankind since Adam have a soul. Genetics does not address soul. The Bible stands.

          Mitochondrial DNA supports all modern man had a common ancestor 2,000 to 6,000 years ago. That does not dispute the Bibles position either.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:26 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


          Our female common ancestor lived about 200,000 years ago and our male common ancestor lived between 237,000 and 581,000 years ago.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Matriarchal and patriarchal are more apt terms than male and female.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:39 am |
        • fred

          I do not disagree with you as to the first women being 200,000 years ago. I was speaking of most recent common ancestor which was less than 5,000 years ago which all known humans today share common DNA with.

          Rohde, DL; Olson, S; Chang, JT (September 2004), "Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans", Nature 431 (7008): 562–6, doi:10.1038/nature02842, PMID 15457259

          August 9, 2013 at 1:52 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Ah, thanks for the correction.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:57 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Ahhh...ad hominen. Weak.
          Good point , well stated. Take a few classes in genetics and then re-read your statement. You do not comprehend how far from understanding you are. It is like a 2nd grader explaining calculus.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:07 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          What ad hominem? I said if you read any subtext into my comment, you're either paranoid or retarded. That's not an insult directed at you, it's an observation which applies to anybody.

          I know enough about genetics to know that humanity shares common ancestry. H.omo sapien should have been stated instead of h.omo genus perhaps, but apart from that, I believe I made a valid point.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:18 am |
        • Reality

          o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

          "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

          According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

          Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

          "Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

          It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

          For your $199 and a DNA swab sent to National Geographic's Genographic Project:

          "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

          August 9, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Brian

      well see, Jesus never said that ..He claimed and proved He is God..not ANOTHER deity as you Muslim so wronglfully accuse Christianity..to say we claim ANOTHER deity is gross misunderstanding of our beliefs...this went all the way back to Mohamed who did not understand as well. Jesus IS God..NOT another god or deity. There is ONE God...ANd He is comprised of three PERSONS (not gods) Father, SOn and Holy SPirit

      December 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.