Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan has publicly stated that the Catholic Church should be more welcoming to gay men and women – despite his opposition to same-sex marriages.
The New York bishop made the comments in a series of TV interviews to mark the Easter Sunday festivities.
The interviews were recorded with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program ‘This Week’ and with Bob Schieffer on the CBS show ‘Face the Nation’.
The leading cleric did not advocate any change to church teaching in the interviews.
The New York Times reports that he clearly defined marriage as ‘one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life.’
He told Stephanopoulos: “We’ve got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.
“And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darnedest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”
Talking just days after the Supreme Court heard arguments in two same-sex marriage cases, Stephanopoulos asked Cardinal Dolan what he could say to gay men and lesbians who felt excluded from the church.
Archbishop Dolan replied: “Well, the first thing I’d say to them is: ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And we want your happiness. But - and you’re entitled to friendship.
“But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that - especially when it comes to sexual love - that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.”
The Bishop made similar remarks on ‘Face the Nation’ when Schieffer questioned him about whether the church would embrace more liberal teachings as public opinion shifts.
Acknowledging that the church had a problem staying relevant, he said: “How to remain faithful to what we believe are God-given, revealed, settled, unchanging principles without losing our people, who more and more question them.
“I think what we can’t tamper with what God has revealed. But we can try to do better in the way we present them with more credibility and in a more compelling way.”
Cardinal Dolan also hinted at more sweeping changes during mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral when he hailed a rebirth of the church as Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
He said: “The church, with a capital C, is undergoing renewal, repair, resurrection. I kind of think we’re seeing it today in a particularly fresh and new way with our beloved new Holy Father.”
Here's the full interview: