New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has defended reported comments by Pope Francis to a gay Chilean man that “being gay doesn’t matter,” saying they represent “conservative” Catholic teaching.
In a reconstruction of his conversation with the pope, Juan Carlos Cruz, an alleged victim of clerical sex abuse, said that Francis told him, “Juan Carlos, you being gay doesn’t matter” during their meeting in April.
“God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are,” he reportedly said.
Cruz is one of three victims of Father Fernando Karadima who were in Rome in late April for three days of meetings with Francis. His comments came in an interview published on Saturday with the Spanish daily El País.
Commenting on the news during his weekly radio show Tuesday, Cardinal Dolan said that it is hard to know with certainty exactly what was said, and that one would want “a little bit of ‘wait and see’ here, let’s see exactly what the Holy Father said.”
While noting he had no intention of questioning the young man’s sincerity, he did say it would be wise to “keep in mind we got it third-hand, so what the pope said to him, he said to the press, so one would want to get a clarification.”
It is of course possible that the pope used those very words but it is also possible that Mr. Cruz walked away with that message, but that the pope’s words were somewhat different, he suggested.
In his own reconstruction of the meeting, Cardinal Dolan said the conversation probably went something like this: “Well, God loves you and so do I.”
“What he says is beautiful,” Dolan said. “Jesus could have said that.”
“That’s sort of conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching. The Catechism insists on that,” he added.
“Yes, yes, while any sexual expression outside of a man and woman in marriage is contrary to God’s purpose, so is not treating anyone, including a gay person, with anything less than dignity and respect,” he stated.
The cardinal tied the conversation back to the pope’s celebrated remark in 2013 “Who am I to judge?” in reference to gay individuals in the Church trying to live chaste lives.
“People thought this was revolutionary,” Dolan recalled. “What he would say today would be similar to what Jesus would say.”
“People don’t understand those teachings of the Church,” Dolan said.
The Catholic Church teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.”
Men and women “who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” however, “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” the Catholic Catechism states.
“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection,” it concludes.