Archbishop Timothy Dolan
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Look at Canada.
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.
By 2011 the only major social change that has occurred is that gay people have almost total equality under Canadian law.
That's nice for them, isn't it?
The erosion of traditional marriage, the marginalization of religion and the complete breakdown of the family, still so fretted over by some conservatives, hasn't happened. At all. Nor will it. Gays are family too, after all.
So what to make of Archbishop Timothy Dolan? This week he sent a letter to President Obama outlining his growing alarm about actions the Obama administration has taken that he believes 'escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage.'
What imperiling threats is he talking about?
The Justice Departments decision to no longer defend DOMA (the Defense of Marriage act) claiming that it's unconstitutional.
The administration's support of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in foster care and adoption placement.
The repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell).
'In sum,' Archbishop Dolan wrote, 'these recent actions undermine certain fundamental truths about the nature of the human person—the equal importance of mothers and fathers to children, and the unchangeable meaning and nature of marriage as a communion of the sexes. They also oppose the deeply rooted consensus among the American people in support of the authentic definition of marriage and laws that reflect it. These actions also harm the common good by imperiling the religious freedom of those who hold these truths and defend these laws.'
Reading the overheated language of Dolan's letter, and bemused by the massively overstated nature of the 'threat,' it occurred to me that we might start a campaign to have the archbishop visit Toronto.
Perhaps the Canadian Tourist Board could step up too? We could call it something fun like Vancouver Vanquishes Dolan's Vapors, or Toronto Terminates Dolan's Tantrums. It's quite clear he needs to get out more.
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Of course 2012 being an election year, it's not an accident that Archbishop Dolan is suddenly alarmed about the pace of change gay rights have achieved. His letter is, on the face of it, an attempt to intimidate the president through the voting block that - apparently - still gives its allegiance to the Archbishop.
But it's a bit odd, in the modern world, to see a Catholic bishop make a not-so-veiled threat to a head of state. After all United States laws are governed by the Constitution, not the Vatican. We didn't elect Archbishop Dolan to be the spokesman on anything. And his opinion, such as it is, is therefore no more or less valid than any other citizens.
Being Irish, I find it especially startling that a Catholic leader would make so a public stand on this marginal issue when it's quite clear that God's work might prioritize others.
Record numbers of American children are going to bed hungry every single night. 50 million people were unable to put food on the table at some point last year. Where's Dolan's letter about that escalating threat?
And the speed and sincerity with which he engages in the cultures wars stands in very sharp contrast to the Vatican's decades long indifference and foot-dragging over the international child abuse scandals.
Would that Archbishop Dolan could follow the example of Jesus himself and seek out peace and good fellowship, rather than go out of his way to sow suspicion and discord.