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. God

    Methinks the bishop needs to melt down his big cross and the chain it's on and give it to the poor before he starts judging people...after all, it's not HIS place to judge either...

    August 1, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  2. God

    Let the Pope come out and retract his words. A bishop is NOTHING in the Catholic church (except possibly a pedophile) so his words are empty.

    August 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  3. JohnnyKay

    It's time Dolan came out of the closet, got a real job, and stopped pretending he's the next best thing to God.

    August 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  4. Agnostickids

    Good to know that yet again the Pope was high.

    August 1, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  5. Drizzt

    I am immune to Lolth's influence. So FU, bitship

    August 1, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  6. Alison

    Sorry, Bishop, you do not speak for the Pope. Only he can retract his words. You, Bishop, are just trying to hold on to your outdated ideas, and threatening theology.

    August 1, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  7. Fun Facts!

    Jesus never existed!

    God does not exist!

    The bible on multiple occasions states that other gods! In one passage found in Exodus chapter 12, verse 12, the Hebrew god states that it will punish the other gods! Christians claim that the bible is talking about idols. Odd that god would punish inanimate objects! It doesn't make sense!

    The New Testament mentions two other gods by name! Those names are Hades and Tartarus, which are both names of Greek gods and their realms!

    The bible was written by primitive cave-people that worshiped multiple gods and led immoral lifestyles that I dare not make mention of in a public forum due to how graphic and disgusting it was!

    The New Testament contradicts the Old Testament!

    The bible contradicts itself many times!

    Jesus did not fulfill any of the Old Testament prophecies, no matter how hard Christians twist the words to fit their own lies! It just did not happen!

    Genesis has two alternate creation myth stories that contradict each other! Did the gods screw up and start over?

    Ancient Hebrews worshiped multiple gods!

    The worldwide flood never happened!

    If Mary actually existed, she wasn't untouched by a man! That was made up by the Catholic Church! No doubt she was a former red light worker in Amsterdam which would explain was Joseph refused to have his name put on jesus' birth certificate! Had she not been knocked up by her own husband, she would have been put to death as required by law!

    The Ten Commandments you see plastered everywhere today are not the actual Ten Commandments! In fact, the bible clearly lists the real commandments that were (and presumably still are) written on some stone tablets! Imagine the shock and horror on believer's faces if the ark of the covenant is found and those things are in it! Read exodus if you think I'm making this up! Moses broke the first set, then one of the multiple Hebrew gods allegedly wrote them down again!

    Satan does not exist!

    Speaking in tongues is the result of a mental handicap and dehydration! It is most often seen in stroke victims!

    Remember, god does not exist and neither did jesus!

    The bible is a collection of poorly written fables that have all been proven false!

    According to the bible, the world is a flat, round disk sitting atop pillars! Ha ha! Imagine that! They thought the Earth was a dining room table! All that's missing are some giant jesus chairs!

    The bible has had hundreds of rewrites over the centuries!

    The bible you have sitting next to your toilet is missing multiple books! They were removed less than 200 years ago! Don't believe me? Read the one you have and you'll find references to other books that aren't in it! Unless you have a catholic bible, your salvation is incomplete!

    How could you believe in incomplete "information?"

    The majority of Christians don't know the names of the 12 disciples! Some of them even think that jesus wrote parts of the bible! Wrong! He never existed!

    August 1, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • ttwp

      Your blind....seek the Lord while he may be found.

      August 1, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  8. Logic

    I always knew it. The pop smokes dope....

    August 1, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  9. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is filthy trailer trash.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Rock

      ...but i dig her rack. I wish I had a pic of her and her daughter mashing their sweater rockets together

      August 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • palintwit

        That would be ok. Or how about a little biscuit bumping between the two?

        August 1, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    snake oil salesmen, all of them!

    Christianity is just the world's longest con.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Saraswati

      Does that amke Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism all true? Or is Christianity somehow an intentional "con" and longer standing religions cultural evolutions?

      August 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        personally ...

        some religions are more a philosophy than a religion ...Buddhism, Taoism. = a benign cancer of humanity

        monotheism ... Christianity, islam in particular = a malignant cancer of humanity

        August 1, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        religions demanding blind obedience and belief (faith) despite all evidence to the contrary are a con

        they employ all of the methods that modern psychologists and modern medicine know are part of brainwashing. Get young people and feed them their stories while they are impressionable and have them repeat verses and songs and passages from books over and over again. punishment for non compliance. reward for obedience. ... it's awful stuff!

        August 1, 2013 at 10:11 am |
      • Saraswati

        There are benign and less benign forms of most religions. There are forms of Buddhism that took small children from their parents to serve in monestaries and required such high funding they nearly bankrupt nations. Zen, which is a mixture of Buddhism and Taosm, was historically very violent in its training, and Taoism itself long promoted inaction in the face of injustice. All these have good aspects, too, but they don't have the pure philosophical history many in the west like to believe. They are the equivalent, perhaps, of modern mystic versions of Islam or Christianity.

        August 1, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  11. Mary Donaldson

    You have only to look to the teachings of Jesus, Christians – Let he without sin cast the first stone.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  12. Samuel Kings

    "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!"

    -Very true!!

    August 1, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  13. Creepy Ascrcker

    I absolutely love the "implication" in the headline that the Pope was high when making remarks not judging gays. Funny stuff

    August 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • HotAirAce

      High – high on personal power, as in "Look at me. I command the largest crowds on the planet. Look at me!"

      Want to bet on when Pope-A-Dope starts wearing the really expensive frocks? I bet this will happen long before he makes public the RCC's records about pedophile priests and their protectors. He's a criminal, just like his predecessors.

      August 1, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • Creepy Ascrcker

        I'm with you on that bet! Absolute power corrupts absolutely .... and this is one of the first signs of it beginning.

        August 1, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  14. sonny chapman

    That's what the public thought of Jesus' Disciples after they received the Holy Spirit,'They've had too much new wine". Acts 2,13.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  15. MT

    "Doctrine is a given; it is settled, inherited, faithfully passed on."

    Which is why the old guard is still trying to dismantle Vatican II.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  16. georgieboy

    Maybe this pope is a 'loose cannon'?

    August 1, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  17. JR

    That Dolan guy is really creepy. I can't believe how the catlicks grovel at his feet under his red robes. He orchestrated the movement and hiding of monies so the children he and his minions raped wouldn't get a dime from the pedophile infested cult.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  18. Wayne

    "Gooby pls," Dolan said.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Sammy Z

      Y u do dis?


      August 1, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  19. Drake Roland

    This pope sure is the "People's Pope"

    August 1, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  20. TONE

    Why do you gay guys hate God so much that what ever comes out of your mouths is venomous with regards to him, and you want us straight guys to accept your life style while you claim my God is some fairy tale. I use to think that you all were normal folks but i guest not.

    August 1, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • mindstorms1

      Look up the term glittering generality because your remarks are full of them.

      August 1, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Dave, CA

      Don't hurt yourself jumping to all those conclusions TONE. It's not hate for god, but those who claim to speak in the name of a mythological creator figure, from an illogical, contradictory-riddled ancient text of ignorance. It's trying to show truth past all these "religious" idiot's lies and hate and violence that hide behind "faith" and use it as an excuse for atrocities. Religion is so full of hypocrisy it's enough to make a sane, logical person vomit.

      I've never heard a christian kid that was bullied to the point of suicide, but the news is FULL of gay kids bullied and abused by so called "christians" who have killed them selves. Are you blind to the violence done to gays in god's name? Or is it that you just don't care?

      August 1, 2013 at 10:35 am |
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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.