New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Sunday conceded gay and lesbian Catholics do not feel welcome in their church.
“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 – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship,'” he said during an interview that aired on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “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.”
Dolan added the church has to “do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.”
“I admit, we haven’t been too good at that,” he told Stephanopoulos. “We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about — about marriage. And it’s one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life. We gotta do better to try to dis – take that away from being anti-anybody.”
Pope Francis I, who led the opposition to Argentina’s same-sex marriage bill that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed into law in 2010, last month became the first non-European pontiff.
Dolan himself opposed efforts to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians in New York in 2011.
“We gotta listen to people,” he told Stephanopoulos in response to a question about how to make gay Catholics feel more comfortable in the church. “Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me. But you got a point. Sometimes we’re not as successful or as effective as we can be in translating that warm embrace into also teaching what God has told us about the way he wants us.”
A Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month shows 54 percent of Catholic voters now support nuptials for gays and lesbians. The same survey noted 62 percent of respondents said the next pope should allow priests to marry.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said Francis should “relax the church ban on contraception.”