Damian Thompson Damian Thompson

Could homosexuality split the Catholic Church?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the ebullient Archbishop of New York, has welcomed the ‘wise decision’ by organisers of the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade to lift their ban on gay groups marching under their own banners. He has ‘no problem with it at all’. His predecessor, Cardinal John O’Connor, who supported the ban in 1990, must be turning in his grave. More to the point, conservative American Catholics feel let down by Dolan, an orthodox and tribal prelate who likes to roll up his sleeves and jab in the direction of the snidely liberal New York Times.

Here’s the response of Deal Hudson, a leading Catholic Republican (and certainly not an anti-gay bigot):

Cardinal Dolan’s mistake, in this prudential matter, is precisely of the same kind made over and over by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops when it allows the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to invest its money in coalitions that contain organisations explicitly committed to ends such as abortion, gay marriage, and birth control. By giving Catholic money to such coalitions, the bishops are lending their collective moral authority to the work of groups who seek to subvert Church teaching. The US Catholic Church has become, to give it a name, ‘The Church With Blurred Boundaries’.

In May, the New York Times gloatingly predicted that its old foe – who despite his avuncular manner carries the whiff of a prince-bishop about him – would lose influence in the era of Humble Pope Francis. But now Tim Dolan has reached out to gay groups in a manner that proclaims (to quote his boss): ‘Who am I to judge?’ And the left-wing Catholics whom Hudson dislikes are jubilant.

Christopher Hale, a ‘progressive’ Catholic, used Dolan’s comments as the hook for a Time magazine article headed ‘Is the Catholic Church “Evolving” on Gay Marriage?’.

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