If you were looking for a textbook example of someone who, in Pope Francis’s words, is “obsessed” with condemning homosexuality, look no further than Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. After all Dolan, who has been an outspoken opponent of all things lavender, once said that marriage equality would make New York the equivalent of North Korea. But if Francis’s comments shocked Dolan, he’s not about to show it. Dolan has finally commented on the Pope’s recent interview and, no surprise, thinks Francis is “a breath of fresh air” and “a great relief to all of us.”
Of course, Dolan has a lot of spinning to do to adjust to the new pope’s attitude. Just two months ago, Dolan was saying that Pope Francis didn’t represent any change in the Vatican’s attitudes. After Francis asked “Who am I to judge?” when it came to gay people, Dolan insisted that the pope was just singing the old “Love the sinner, hate the sin” hymn.
And to a large extent, that’s what Dolan is still saying, interpreting the pope’s comments to fit his own inclinations. “He knows that the highest and most sacred responsibility is to pass on the timeless teaching of the church,” Dolan said of the pope. “What he’s saying is that we have to think of a more effective way to do it, because if the church comes off as a scold, it’s counterproductive. If the church comes off as a loving, embracing mother, who periodically has to correct her children, then we will be effective.”
In other words, old wine, new skins.
Dolan also insists that he just loves us to bits and always has, but there’s always room for improvement. “We’ve got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people,” he said. Perhaps that means he won’t compare marriage equality to incest. Or perhaps when gay people are physically attacked, he’ll spend more than 19 seconds condemning the violence. However, we wouldn’t count on it.