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)
  1. Big D

    Look at that silly outfit. Can any reasonable person take advice from someone who devotes their life to a fairy tale and wears ridiculous clothing to try and justify their moral authority and self-loathing nature?

    July 31, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • JR

      That's designed to keep the sheep in awe, not for the rest of us who just see him as looking ridiculous.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Mike the Massacred

      HA! good point.

      August 1, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  2. shoos

    Oh please that is not true, the history of the church has many changes in doctrine. You don't condone sacrificing (death) your children in the name of God. Do you teach that Paul blinded a man with the help of the holy spirit. Please don't talk such foolishness. Grow a pair and start changing this Church.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Karen

      I think it's important for you to first understand what a "doctrine" is. The particular law you speak of was never a doctrine. It was an OT law and had a purpose. Jesus fulfilled the law in that the law no longer covers your sin. The Laws pointed the way to Christ so that in Him we find our salvation.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Michael

        So that Leviticus scripture used against gay people is part of the Holiness Code, the same code that forbids shrimp, pork, shaving, tattoos. Let me guess though. You're the type who thinks we can ignore all of them except the 2 you think condemns gay people.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • SouthernCelt

          Leviticus is part of the Old Testament, which is the story of the Jewish people's relationship with God, as well as rules for life in the desert for a tribal culture. Jesus came "not to change the Law but to fulfill it". In other words, He satisfied the old Law and gave us new laws; namely Love God, and Love each other as He loves us. If you weren't born Jewish you should be reading and living by the New Testament instead of finding faultl with the Old.

          July 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
        • Michael

          Yeah, but how many times do you hear Christians cite Levitical laws to condemn gay people?

          July 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • shoos

        Look up the definition of doctrine, you can't suit it to your explanation:

        1. A principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief, as by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group; dogma.
        2. A rule or principle of law, especially when established by precedent.
        3. A statement of official government policy, especially in foreign affairs and military strategy.
        4. Archaic Something taught; a teaching.

        You leave this archaic silliness in a "Bible" (the word of God) in both the New and Old Testaments. It just doesn't fly, his argument is lame.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • shoos

          ...besides I just picked two to make a point, there are many others...

          July 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • sam

        Ah, semantics, so conveniently arranged.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • sam stone

        Sin is a man made concept

        July 31, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
      • SarahTX2

        Karen, don't you have some housework to do ?

        July 31, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  3. David

    As a non-Catholic, I always imagined that the Pope would instantly ex-communicate a Bishop who publicly belittled him or contradicted him, even in a subtle manner. Am I mistaken?

    July 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      Excommunication is a long process for a person that violates Canon Law. They have multiple chances to repent, and eventually excommunicate themselves by ignoring those opportunities and continuing to sin as they did before.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  4. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    We present his Eminence, Cardinal Buzzkill.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  5. Michael

    Isn't this coming from the man who shuffled millions of dollars in order to avoid paying out on the child moles station law suits?

    July 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      Yes, and he's as crooked and corrupt as they come. Why anyone would listen to a word these criminals say is beyond belief.

      August 1, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  6. Michael

    Dolan is perhaps the BIGGEST Nelly queen closeted bishop around. It's absurd he's making the biggest fuss about gays being treated with some compassion. He is by far what's wrong with this world when the men who have the biggest issues with gay men are gay themselves.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  7. RE

    A non-judgemental christian?!?!?! That's what christians do, judge everyone on several levels.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  8. gg

    We should all stop and thank God for His many blessings.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Richard

    As usual, atheists and anti-religious people flock to an article about religion. It's funny how you people are so obsessed with God.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • RE

      We like a good joke now and then.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • sam

      How cute! "You people".

      It's just hard to ignore such good comedy.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      No, Richard......we are amused by inbred fvcks like you. That is what keeps drawing us back.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
      • Mike the Massacred

        Now now Sam, dont wanna get on the Christian level do we? Lets keep the our side of this stance intellectual and logical. Thanks.

        August 1, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Huebert

      I'm not interested in God as she/he does not exist. I am keenly interested in religion and its effect on the society that I live in.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
      • Mike the Massacred

        +1 Huebert.

        A facinating phenomeon where masses can be steered by the voice only a few can actually "hear". Sounds like brain-control, huh?

        August 1, 2013 at 1:21 am |
  10. God Bless America

    Whether the Pope was High or not, he definitely set a precedence for his papacy.
    What if a Priest likes little boys? – Who is he to judge?
    What if Priest and Nuns like to party together? – Who is he to judge?
    What if Nuns seek and abortion afterwards? – Who is he to judge?
    What if anyone wants to break all of the Ten Commandments? – Who is he to judge?

    July 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Michael

      Hey, when you can spot "Thou shall not be gay" in the Ten Commandments, and/or explain to us how "Thou shall not commit adultery" is completely ignored by right-wing Bible thumpers, get back to us.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • God Bless America

        Actually there are 613 Laws in the Torah and it is stated "You shall not lie down with a male, as with a woman: this is an abomination." Leviticus 18: 22

        July 31, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
        • Michael

          Since you're an 'expert', please explain the difference between the Holiness Code and the Moral Code and for whom they're meant.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  11. joe

    The catholic church is on par with "Rocky Horror Show".

    July 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  12. Chip

    My gaydar just went off looking at Dolan. Ick.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  13. dokousmag

    Religion is slowly and finally becoming irrelevant.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  14. Dyan S

    Timothy Dolan is a disgusting individual and it doesn't take too much research to confirm that. Seems to me he is envious of not having been picked and now turns to petty jabs. He should be excomunicated.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Dyan S


      July 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Barbara

      Takes a lot of balls, or a lack of sense to second guess your boss in that way. I'm with the ones that say he is still angry for not getting picked. This shows why.................

      July 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  15. Gus

    Anyone who believes in the church and religion (no God, which has nothing to do with these misogynistic theocrats) is high...

    July 31, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Akela

    As somebody who is non-religous... I found the pope's words very accepting. To think the Church could take on a more positive and supportive role in the world. This Bishop doesn't speak for the whole religious community either. Go Pope!

    July 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • ajk68

      What the pope was saying is that if people are striving to live chaste lives, he will not judge their inclinations.
      This is standard Catholic teaching – and has been for over two thousand years.
      One must make a distinction between inclinations and actions.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • Dana

        @ajk68: really? you can read between lines.

        July 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • Michael

        Hate to break the news to you but the original text of the Bible doesn't condemn gay people.

        July 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • sam

        I'd like to suggest that all catholics remain chaste from here on out. And then the problem will solve itself.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  17. jim

    The Pope was high?

    July 31, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Bubbles

      I like the pope. The pope smokes dope.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • tepeters


        July 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • anna

      Is he gay too?

      August 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  18. JR

    So, the head of the hypocritical pedophile infested cult was on a "high" eh? He made a slip and steered away from doctrine for a brief moment that's all. All the bishops and cardinals will fix it.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • ajk68

      Actually the pope made no slip. He merely repeated what has been taught for years.
      For some reason the media is trying to make it sound like he changed something. He didn't.
      He even cited the catechism as a source. So it clearly isn't a new idea he was preaching.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  19. DaveCA

    "on a high" = telling the truth (who are YOU to judge) as opposed to lying and blaming the victims the way the RCC usually operates mr. bishop? Must be quite frustrating and repressive to be wrong all the time eh, mr. bishop?

    July 31, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Barbara

      This coming from a Bishop who was in power when all the pedophiles came out of the woodwork and everyone turned their heads. He is encouraging 'JUDGEMENT'?! Really...................... I think it is time for the religious community rethink how our churches are headed up and who qualifies to teach. This is the most judgmental religious environment in history. I am floored that these people think they are qualified to judge. "Judge not..........", commandment, right???? Back to my first sentence. This is why I just can't make myself go into a church anymore.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Dave, CA

        amen to that! (pardon the pun!)

        August 1, 2013 at 10:39 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
About this blog

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.