New York’ Archbishop Timothy Dolan has issued a strong directive about same-sex marriage in his archdiocese.

Clergy and Church employees may not participate in the solemnization of a civil same-sex “marriage,” nor may the property and facilities of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New York be used for such events, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in his recent decree.

“Jesus Christ affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising this union to the dignity of a sacrament when entered into by two baptized persons,” the archbishop said in his Oct. 18 decree. “Consequently, the Church has the authority and the serious obligation to affirm the authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the supremely sacred value of the married state.”

Archbishop Dolan further stated that no member of the clergy incardinated or assisting in his archdiocese, or any person acting as an employee of the Church, may participate in “the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex ‘marriage.’” This covers just about all human activity since it includes providing: “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events.”

Under the New York Archbishops’s decree, no Catholic facility or property, such as parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls or any place dedicated, consecrated or used for Catholic worship may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex “marriages.” No Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions or benevolent orders may be used for such purposes.


As a traditional Roman Catholic theologian, i.e. a theologian well-grounded in Catholic teaching and tradition, I have some concerns.

(1) The Archbishop needs remedial theological education. The historical Jesus DID NOT raise hetero-sexual marriage to the level of a sacrament. In fact the Roman Catholic Church itself DID NOT recognize such a marriage as a sacrament until the eleventh century.

(2) I don’t mind archbishops making statements about marriage. I do mind their making statements that are patently ignorant and incorrect.

(3) The Archbishop will impose serious “sanctions” on anyone who defies his decree. I wonder if this is really the most effective way to behave as an adult in an adult church.

(4) And why such immediate vehemence?

(5) Is the Archbishop gearing up for the next (conservative Catholic anti-Obama) presidential campaign?


  1. (4) And why such immediate vehemence?

    Probably because he was burned by the people and the legislature of New York in rejecting the church management opposition to civil marriages between same-sex couples. It’s like any little kid who loses – they get mad and try to get even.

    We need to pray for the conversion to the senior management of the church to Christianity. Many of them are a long way from it.

  2. Sounds like the old “avoid all religious interactions with Protestants” that was so common in the Pre-Vatican II Church. Such bigotry really caused a lot of problems in my immediate family, since my father was a Protestant.
    Luckily, his father-in-law said that Jesus’ commandment was to love one another, including Protestants. Grandpa did know about the faith, since he went through the minor seminary…
    To him, the “mixed marriage” of my parents was because it was between a Canadian and an American!!

    1. My Dad was also Protestant. The kids were Catholic and went to Catholic school. One week the local parish priest came to school and told the kids we had to “remove from your homes all heretical Protestant Bibles.” My Dad caught me with his Bi le on my way out of the house….when I told him what I was doing and why he used a couple expletives about the local priest then said “the Binle is the Word of God. Putit back where you found it and remember Father X is a complete fool.!” My Dad was a great guy……… John

  3. (1) The Archbishop needs remedial theological education.

    It is sometimes (frequently?) so embarassing to identify with the Catholic Church. I taught theology for 27 years and I would like to think that my high school seniors would have very quickly identified the historical and theological anachronisms involved in the Archbishop’s comment, and would have been offended by them. In fact being regularly offended by the Church I was representing in the classroom was why I quit! One cannot defend the indefensible.

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