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. Gorsh

    I am getting tired of Bishops following behind Francis denying what he says.

    He is the freaking Pope Dolan, not you.

    Sit down and shut up. This great man can speak for himself.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Akira


      July 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Yessir

      You are correct - Dolan is just trying to grab the shine of the pope by stirring up controversy. He should just back the f- off and worry about his own duties.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • JR

      Then why don't you Catlicks do something about it? I just wished you were as concerned about all the children that your priests have raped and are raping as you do about what shoes the head pedophile protector wears.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Not to worry. He keeps this up, they'll kill him just like they did JohnPaul I.
      He'll have a "heart attack". And no autopsy. He'll be embalmed in about 4 hours so no one can investigate.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Michael

      Smartest thing I've read on this thread so far.

      Thank you.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • Marilyn

        yep, I agree with you Mike

        July 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
        • there is no god.

          I agree with you about agreeing with Michael

          August 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  2. The Twoof

    Who wrote the damn doctrine in the first place? Men. And they could change it if they wanted to. Jesus never said a damned word about gay, or half of the garbage the RCC spouts.
    What a load of roadapples.

    Way to try and stay relevant, Dolan. Shut up.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • eric

      yes, the bible clearly condems gays todeath. look it up please.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
      • Observer


        And it also condemns adulterers to death. If anybody followed that, there would be millions fewer Christians. Ooops.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
      • Michael

        Actually, Eric, if you spend 5 minutes Googling what the original text stated about gay people you'd find out it doesn't condemn them.

        People, like this good closeted totally gay Bishop, have twisted the words to fit their agendas.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
      • norman

        eric, and the bible was clearly written by a bunch of primtive men-imbecile

        August 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • I Believe in God

      For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:26-27 KJV)

      Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22 KJV)

      If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

      August 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • Typical Christian

        You must not really believe as I doubt you have killed any gay people.

        August 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Woody

    "..........gave Francis hope that he would "revive the church on his home continent of Latin America."

    Did they discover a new continent since I went to school? The continent of Latin America? I checked Google Earth and I'll be damned if I can find it.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Akira

      Good catch. Dolan doesn't appear to be the brightest bulb, which is why he shouldn't be second-guessing Francis's intent...someone else used the term "backseat Popeing", and that's apt.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  4. us_1776

    Let the backpedaling begin....

    Creepiest Pedo Church on the planet.


    July 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  5. regenesis0

    Dolan? Thou shalt not put lies in the mouth of God.
    And suggesting that your boss was in a diminished capacity or "mis-spoke" when he advocated charity and mercy because you disagree with him, well....
    You were one of the candidates for the Papacy. You weren't picked. Button it and stop with the Backseat Popeing.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Backseat Popeing! Awesome.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  6. The Truth

    Ever notice how atheist here are always angry and miserable projecting there anger on Christians? It is because they have no life. No reason to live and they know deep down they are gonna burn in hell when they pass on and they know it

    July 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Ted

      Really? No, I've never noticed that. Usually the hate-on is against, you know, gay people and women. By, you know, not the atheists. Huh.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Observer

      The Truth

      "Ever notice how atheist here are always angry and miserable projecting there anger on Christians? It is because they have no life. No reason to live"

      Why do you think God did such an awful job of creating the world we live in? Why is it usually Christians who trash the world God created? Atheists seem to have more appreciation for the world we live in. It's pathetic that you don't.

      Just another case where you didn't think things through. So much for "the truth".

      July 31, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
      • Eddie Vanmeer

        No atheists just don't want your "truth" shoved down their throat.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • The Twoof

      No, actually the most hate stems from good Christians just like you. Well done; you've proven it again.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • fumota68

      yes it's very noticeable, can smell the hate the anger, etc

      August 1, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  7. Alquimia

    This Pope will make history: "Who am I to judge" I LOVE IT!

    July 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  8. Jim Fitzgerald

    Pope Francis knows what he says and what he means. He does NOT need anyone–even an archbishop–to interpret his words. I trust Pope Francis.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • mumto2boys

      That's fine as long as you understand that popes do not write doctrine or change doctrine. And his statement about not judging gays does not negate the fact the gay lifestyle is not promoted or condoned by the catholic church or the bible for that matter.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
      • Gorsh

        And you think it is Dolan's place to contradict or correct his Pope?

        I think not.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Michael

        That's weird because I could've sworn the most passionate, heated love story in the Bible is between two men.

        What happened between those two would have been just as highly s e xually charged back then as it would be today unless, of course, you can find another story of two men in private where one takes off all his clothes and gives it to the other as a sign of devotion.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
      • Jim Fitzgerald

        Love is the key. If you don't have Love, you don't have anything!

        August 1, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • Cletus MacMahon

      Thank you.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
      • Cletus MacMahon

        (Thank you Jim)

        July 31, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  9. Ted

    Anuthing that comes out og the enabler Dolan's mouth is suspect. He really should shut up.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  10. Huebert

    Lets let the pope speak for himself, cardinal Dolan's input is not necessary.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  11. g

    This pope will be assassinated by his fellow clergy some how.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • regenesis0

      Character assassination! It's already happening.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  12. g

    Bishops, Dolan sounds and acts like a former vice pres dick cheny. What he meant to say was this ...... What he ment to do was this....What he should of said is this...... I guess we know who runs the church the same old white out of touch men that run our governments.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  13. Donnie the Lion

    "The pope, like all of us, is a servant of the truth of the Gospel, not a crafter." Then he is as useless as the rest of you....because if any organization in the world needed a craftsman to rework it, it is the Catholic Church.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • i aint no servant biotch

      "all of us" are not servants of the truth of the gospel. only those that have no will to lead their lives in the direction they want are "servants" the rest of us have minds and can think for ourselves.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  14. yeppie

    Fact is that stoners wrote the bible.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Mike the Massacred

      LOL trust me, if we did it would have a lot more humor and less fairy-tales

      August 1, 2013 at 2:43 am |
  15. YeahItsMe72

    Time for Franics to start to smack some of these arch bishops around to keep them in line. This idiot sounds like he's trying to do his version of 'damage control' when I think Francis actually meant what he said.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • g

      I agree

      July 31, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
      • Lindalou

        He will go down in my book as the best pope ever. He has restored my faith in the power of his appointment.

        August 1, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  16. Mark

    Yes, he's the criminal who did that.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  17. Matt B

    Isn't he jumping the ball here? By thinking he had to explain further, might as well say "What the pope meant to say was that we don't like gays, but God will forgive them." Prejudice much?

    July 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • jo

      the pope should ask god what God thinks of pedophiles ... why can't a room full of saints, surrounded by pedophiles, catch even one. The catholic church welcomes them with open arms, and will even protect them.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  18. Lindalou

    How refreshing! A pope that dares to question the doctrines of archaic church teachings. I wonder how long till the good 'ol boys beat him into changing his tune. Long Live Pope Francis!

    July 31, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  19. John Stevens

    Umm... isn't the Pope supposed to be infallible? Oh, that's right.. infallible when Cardinal Biblethumper agrees with him.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • JoeMoney333

      Your ignorance of infallibility is showing...

      July 31, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
      • norman

        chastised by a religious sheep? score!

        August 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Ryan

      Actually, that is a common misconception. The pope is not infallible.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:31 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.