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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. Thought Purification

    what is important to people his message or presence of mind?

    July 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  2. Gregory Norbet

    I think Dolan was on high riding on the coat tails of a truly spiritual man.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Bible Lessons

    The liberal media propaganda machine needs to lay off. They do everything they can to ruin the reputations of good, innocent people. I'm so tired of it. It's especially terrible coming from all the atheist jerks here. Not one of them has any clue about God. They have faith in terrible theories like the big bang and evolution. Get a grip. They are THEORIES with no evidence! And you act like you know everything. So then you say insulting things about the religious like you won't be judged some day. I hate to rain on your atheist immorality parade, but God DOES exist. Just because you're afraid to admit it doesn't mean it's not real. You're all like a bunch of toddlers putting your hand in front of your eyes and thinking that Jesus won't be able to see you. He WILL return. It is written. The signs of our times only prove what was written.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • JR

      Perfect example of what religion does to the human mind.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Oh, okay.

      Lol. Lol. Lol. Lol.
      Nobody is doing anything of the sort here; support has been overwhelming in Francis' favor. You silly "liberal propaganda" tirade is just gratuitous bashing. Grow up.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      "No evidence" ? lol, That's why the National Academy of Science, who could EACH get a Nobel, by refuting any of them, all accept them. Deluded to the max.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Woody

      "It is written."

      Superman is real and can be neutralized with kryptonite. It is written. Santa Claus and flying reindeer are real. It is written. The bible or comic books, there's not much difference. Pick out any fantasy that you want to believe, because (drum roll) IT IS WRITTEN.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • WhoIsRight

      Since when did Christians or Catholics for that matter claim ownership of god. Allah is god for a large number of middle east people. Remember, those people that Pope Urban II declared war on in 1095!

      August 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Ken Somebody

    It's a start. The Catholic Church defines slow. We'll see where this goes

    July 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  5. Wind

    The pope runs nambla on the side.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  6. Colin

    The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective and proven way to curtail its spread. As the Vatican still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, it has exercised this power by:

    (a) Using some of its incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;

    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;

    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or

    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon their disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  7. JR

    This Dolan in the red dress and skull cap is just creepy. Seeing him on the Today show just made me very uncomfortable. Can you imagine an altar boy being asked to see him in the rectory for "personal consultation"?

    July 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      He does seem jolly though. You have ti give him "jolly".

      July 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Robert martin

      dolan is a snake. Anyway, who mad Dolan the new Pope?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        Dolan, when archbishop of Milwaukee, tried to hide $32,000,000 in a "cemetery" fund from pedophile lawsuits, and then lied about it. per the NY Times

        July 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  8. Colin

    What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:

    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;

    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;

    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or

    (d) All of the above.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      How many guesses do we get ?

      July 31, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
      • Colin

        The lowest prime number

        July 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

          Well then, it's all of the above. Great question. 🙂

          July 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Krg

      And most of them were Catholics and educated in Catholic schools and universities.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        And had the sense to jettison the crap.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Susan

      Who cares? We all know the Earth is the center of the Universe.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  9. SmartPotato

    What? A white, rich, religious figurehead is on a power trip? Shocker.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  10. TexInd

    Who died and made this drag queen in a dress the new Pope?

    July 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • IBeWhoIBe

      That's an easy one: Emperor Palpatine

      July 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  11. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Doctrine developed over a long period of time. It was not "settled" until they, (humans ... men in councils argued and VOTED, non-unanimously, paid each other off, asked for favors, used bribes), and then cooked up the "final" versions. Many as recently as the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Infallibility was not settled until the 1880's and Vatican I. What a crock. Does he think we're all as ignorant of historical facts and reality as he is ?

    July 31, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  12. RB

    >not a GOPer: A Cardinal is an ordained Bishop who has been elevated by the Pope to the ecclesiastical/administrative position of Cardinal. A Cardinal belongs to the College of Cardinals, which takes part in the enclave that elects the Pope. Therefore referring to him as either a Cardinal or a Bishop is correct. BTW, the Pope is also a Bishop – the Bishop of Rome.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Wind

      And also the leader of a cult that worships something that doesn't even exist.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      It's a CONclave, not an "enclave".
      Cardinal was an office cooked up, and dressed as Italian civil officials. Appointing then=m from Rome did not begin until the 12th Century. Before that any priest in charge of a cardinal (important) church was one.
      You people know nothing about your own cult.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      He's not "also" a bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome IS the pope. You got it backwards. That's not always the way it was.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And when they write a headline about the Pope, it never starts with "Bishop:".

      If the article started with "Archbishop of New York" I wouldn't have commented.

      To be pedantic "Cardinal Timothy Dolan" is another incorrect form.

      Properly, it is "Timothy Cardinal Dolan" or "His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan" and you will see that on the website of the Archdiocese of New York.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        Exactly. They never get the ti'tle right.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Akira

        Correct.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  13. Michael

    This headline is intentionally misleading and provocative to wrongly suggest that Cardinal Dolan was criticizing the Pope's remarks. He did no such thing. I hope CNN corrects this irresponsible journalism.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Akira

      Yeah, kind of make it sound like he was doping, doesn't it?
      Most of CNN's headlines are misleading. That's how they get us to read them.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Wind

      You mean Christians don't contradict each other on a regular basis? Dude, grow up. You're just an apologist trying to deflect the truth that the pope is the owner of the child abuse gang.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Mike

      that how I read it also. Glad I read the entire story, not just the almost slanderous headline

      July 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  14. Imaginary Princess Pope Pony In A Dress

    I wish they'd bulldoze the vatican and push the rubble into mexico where it belongs.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Gorsh

      That's nice.

      You might think about upping your meds.

      You seem like a very bitter person.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • Wind

        Oh, the ever so clever and original "meds" insult. What ever shall I retort with to match such intellect?

        July 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Akira

      I don't. Vatican City is beautiful, and even if the RCC ceased to exist, its beauty should be preserved.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        It would be a nice museum, or Disney World-like attraction. Like Harry Potter World. Popey World.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • Wind

          Perhaps a lovely red light district. With lots of techno music.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • Akira

          PopeyWorld has a certain ring to it.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          The Holy See it soon!

          July 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  15. Robert

    So the Pope says one thing and now Dolan is trying to explain it away. That's kind of an insult.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Michael

      Hardly. The Church has never judged a single human being, even Judas, so the Pope's remarks as completely unsurprising. The Church teaches about sin, and God's love and mercy. Cardinal Dolan's remarks don't "explain away" the Pope's remarks because there is no inconsistency.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        Oh really. They never excommunicated anyone ? That's not "judging ?

        July 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Michael

        You're not serious, right? Are you honestly trying to imply the RCC has never taught gay people are going to hell???

        What planet are you actually living on these days?

        July 31, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Colin

    Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    (a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    (b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    (c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint; or

    (d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Thanks for sharing. Now go out and make some friends.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  17. longtooth

    Methinks His Holiness should hire a bodyguard and a royal food taster. There are secretive conversations going on behind the Throne!

    July 31, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  18. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Why does this headline read "Bishop" when he is clearly described in the article as a Cardinal?

    July 31, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Gorsh

      A Cardinal is the boss of many Bishops, but is also a Bishop.

      Like a team captain is still also a player.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • Colin

        You forgot "likely pedophile."

        July 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        Not necessarily. Cardinal priests are often academics, Like Avery Dulles at Forham, and not the boss of anyone. Cardinal deacons are not the boss of anyone.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Thought Purification

      Daniel Burke was `on a high' when he wrote this blog, I am just guessing.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        I was guessing along the same lines!

        July 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • RB

      RB

      >not a GOPer: A Cardinal is an ordained Bishop who has been elevated by the Pope to the ecclesiastical/administrative position of Cardinal. A Cardinal belongs to the College of Cardinals, which takes part in the enclave that elects the Pope. Therefore referring to him as either a Cardinal or a Bishop is correct. BTW, the Pope is also a Bishop – the Bishop of Rome.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
      • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

        They are not always bishops.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Thank you all for your earnest attempts to help me understand.

      But I know exactly what a Cardinal is. My question was rhetorical.

      Why would you say "Bishop" when you mean "Cardinal", Cardinal being the higher status and giving greater gravitas (in principle) than a bishop.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  19. Andrew

    LOL.

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan: 'Well obviously, when a Pope says something thoughtful and kind, he isn't really speaking for the Catholic Church.'

    July 31, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • FOXY TAINT MEAT

      HAVE SOME GOD DAMNED RESPECT. THE POPE IS ZEUS'S ONLY REP HERE ON MY PLANET.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  20. FOXY TAINT MEAT

    THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY MORONS THAT HAD RELATIONS WITH SHEEP AND DIDN'T EVEN HAVE THE COURTESY TO PULL OUT.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Gorsh

      Using all caps makes you seem like an even bigger dick than the words you type.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • FOXY TAINT MEAT

        CRY ABOUT IT.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
        • That's a fail

          Now you are in the running for the biggest dick on here. Congrats.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
        • FOXY TAINT MEAT

          SO WHAT? DOES IT LOOK LIKE IM HERE TO SLURP NUTS LIKE THE REST OF YOU? DON'T FORGET TO CUP THE OLD SACK, CHAP. AND SWALLOW.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • FOXY TAINT MEAT

          I SAID CUP IT.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
        • That's a fail

          Whatever. I bet I can guess your skin color based on how dumb you are.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
        • SarahTX2

          That's a fail, pray tell, what skin color am I?

          July 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
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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.