NEW YORK, JULY 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Timothy Dolan is responding to his state's legalization of same-sex "marriage" with a message to the homosexual community: "I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God's grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and his message."
This was part of a seven-point response that the archbishop posted on his blog Tuesday.
He first noted that New York passed the legislation, "hauntingly, on the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, whom King Herod would behead because the saint dared to defend the God-given truth about marriage."
Then he offered a variety of reflections, ranging from gratitude for "those courageous millions who valiantly fought this unfortunate project of social engineering" to worry over the future of religious freedom in New York.
"If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world," he said.
Archbishop Dolan also stated that the "real forces of 'intolerance' were unmasked" in the New York debate. "The caricature, of course, is that those defending traditional marriage were the right-wing bigots and bullies. However, as one out-of-state journalist, who was following the debate closely, commented to me, 'From my read of the columns, blogs, and rhetoric, it's not your side that's lobbing the grenades.' ...
"As one respected columnist has observed, the problem is not homophobia but theophobia -- a hatred by some of God, faith, religion, and the Church."
The prelate's fifth point was an apology if anyone was hurt in "our defense of marriage."
"We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay," he said. "But, I'm afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, 'Yes: I love you. Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being."
The Missouri native who was appointed to New York in 2009 went on to reflect on the history of the Church's defense of marriage.
"Veterans my age and over can remember 60 years ago when we fought widespread, no-fault divorce, convinced it would lead to a cheapening of the marriage bond and harm our kids -- as, of course, scholarly studies now report has, indeed, happened," he said. "Recall how the Church resisted the 'contraceptive mentality,' fearing it would rupture the sacred bond between love and the procreation of children.
"Then, remember how the Church sounded the alarm over rising rates of promiscuity, adultery, pre-marital sex, and cohabitation prior to or instead of marriage. And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity."
"By the way, as Professor Robert George at Princeton University eloquently points out, in warning about promiscuity, divorce, cohabitation instead of marriage, adultery, and 'same-sex' marriage, the Church is hardly some shrill, bitter, reactionary, naysaying prude, but actually prophetically right-on-target," the prelate continued. "Recent studies ... show that the weakening of stable marriage and families is the cause of most social and cultural woes, especially burdensome on poor women and children."
Not much changes
The archbishop's last word was for Catholic faithful: "For us in the Church, not much changes," he said. "We continue to hold fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality."
He admitted that there is a big "catechetical challenge, in that we have to admit that quite a few people no longer hold to this timeless moral truth."
Though, the prelate added, "I still believe most people do; thus the fear of a referendum on the issue by those who still claim this is a 'grassroots movement' sweeping the nation."
He also mentioned the scandal of "political leaders who claim to be Catholic, [who] tell us the Church is 'out of it,' and has no claim on truth."
Archbishop Dolan concluded: "So, we try our best to witness to the truth, encouraging our married couples and their kids to be loving, radiant, 'lights to the world.' We acknowledge that, as St. Augustine taught, if something is wrong, even if everybody else is doing it, it's still wrong; and, if something is right, even if nobody else is doing it anymore, it's still right.
"Like St. Thomas More, we're willing to take the heat and even lose our head from following a conscience properly formed by God's revelation and the teaching of his Church, even if it is politically incorrect, and clashes with the King's demands to re-define marriage."