Tagged: Timothy Dolan

NY’s Cardinal Dolan Pays for Birth Control, Abortion

Head in HandsI spotted a surprising headline while perusing yesterday’s edition of the New York Times: “New York Archdiocese Paying to Insure Birth Control.”

Being a former Catholic myself — as well as someone who follows and blogs extensively about the political activities of the American Catholic hierarchy on this site and several others — I was already well aware that many Catholic dioceses around the country currently offer insurance plans covering women’s reproductive care, including contraception services, despite the Catholic Church officially prohibiting them.

But surely, I thought, Dolan’s diocese would be different. After all, he’s the most visible Catholic leader in America and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Not only that, the Cardinal is currently suing the Obama administration over the mandate in the new health reform law requiring employers to offer contraception coverage in their health plans. One would think that Dolan would have found a way to either stop covering contraception in his own diocese or explain the glaring inconsistency before launching such a high-profile assault on the expansion of health care (which, by the way, the Catholic Church supports).

Nope: the Times has just discovered that the Archdiocese of New York currently and “quietly” pays for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion services for workers at “affiliated nursing homes and clinics,” and has done so for over a decade. Continue reading

Cardinal Dolan to LGBTs: Wash Your Hands Before Entering My Church

Archbishop Timothy Dolan smiles during the Solemn Vespers ceremony for Dolan at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New YorkNew York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the American Catholic Church’s most outspoken homophobe, caused a stir last month when he acknowledged that the Church needs to be more “welcoming” to gays and lesbians. He then proceeded to denigrate loving and committed same-sex relationships as mere “friendships,” although this detail was largely overlooked in coverage of his remarks thanks to a misleading and overly optimistic New York Times headline.

Things got even more confusing at the end of April, when Dolan expounded on his “let’s welcome the gays” message in a jaw-droppingly arrogant blog post where he made clear that any such “welcome” would be conditional: only those who accept the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings could be truly welcomed into the fold, in the same way that children must wash their “dirty hands” before they can be welcomed to the dinner table.

Naturally, Dolan’s condescending comments provoked outrage among equality-minded Catholics. Last Sunday, a small group of them — LGBTs, straight allies, and parents of LGBT children — decided to see whether Dolan meant his remarks literally. They gathered a few blocks away from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, soiled their hands with ashes, and prepared to walk to the Cathedral for Sunday Mass. Their intention was to see whether or not they would be welcomed, and if they were, to be a peaceful, silent presence during the service in order to draw attention to the Cardinal’s exclusionary remarks and the marginalization experienced by LGBT Catholics.

How did Dolan respond? By calling out the New York Police Department to prohibit the group from entering the cathedral for Mass — unless they washed their hands. Continue reading

Cardinal Dolan Demeans Gay Relationships As He Says Church Should Be More Welcoming to Gays

TimDolanAs I paged through today’s New York Times, a surprising headline greeted me: “Dolan Says the Catholic Church Should Be More Welcoming to Gay People.” I was incredibly intrigued, of course — considering that Dolan is one of the American Catholic Church’s most outspoken homophobes — so I read on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m nowhere near naïve enough to have expected a departure from the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings. But I wondered after reading the headline if perhaps Dolan might be advocating that his church soften its bigotry by shifting focus away from its worldwide crusade against LGBT rights and onto something that Jesus actually talked about, like feeding the hungry and serving the poor.

It didn’t take Cardinal Dolan long to disappoint. According to the Times, Dolan implied in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the Catholic Church’s opposition to equality will continue unabated. What he thinks needs improvement is the messaging around the hierarchy’s homophobia:

He defined marriage as “one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life,” but, he told Mr. 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,” the cardinal continued. “We try our darnedest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”

Translation: we still oppose your right to legally enter into a civil marriage with the person you love and intend to continue spending time and money fighting against your equality, but we’re not anti-gay! And for heaven’s sake, please don’t think we’re attacking you!

Seriously. Remember last year when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which Dolan is president, decided to launch an “ambitious public relations drive” in an attempt to rehabilitate the American Catholic Church’s tattered public image? This strikes me as a continuation of that strategy.

The conversation between Stephanopoulos and Dolan continued (transcript provided by Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress):

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you know, especially this week – because it’s been at the top of the news – for many gay and lesbian Americans –– gay and lesbian Catholics, they feel unwelcome –– in the Church. And what do you say as a minister, as a pastor – to a gay couple that comes to you and say, “We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we –– want to raise a family in faith. What do you say to them?

DOLAN: 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 – and we – 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.

Did you get that? As far as Cardinal Dolan is concerned, gay and lesbian couples don’t really have marriages or families. In his mind, same-sex marriages like mine are undeserving of the same civil benefits, protections, and recognition that all other marriages in this country enjoy… because they aren’t real marriages. But in his magnanimity, Dolan is now apparently willing to concede that couples like Michael and me — who have dedicated our lives to loving each other and committed ourselves to one another forever — are “entitled” to “friendship.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that successful relationships aren’t based on friendship. They are. Michael is my best friend — but it doesn’t stop there. He’s my husband (whether Dolan likes it or not), which means he’s my best friend, my confidante, my joy, my inspiration, and my lover. (Yes, Cardinal Dolan, we have sex. Hot, sweaty, passionate, beautiful, fulfilling gay sex.)

With respect, sir, you say that you “love” gays and lesbians, but if trivializing our relationships as mere friendships and opposing our basic rights is how you define the word “love,” you can keep it. If you believe that God is the author of love, you can’t honestly say that gays and lesbians are “made in God’s image” while also believing that our love for each other and its sexual expression is disordered and inferior. I realize that claiming to “love” LGBT people helps you rationalize your bigotry and sleep better at night, but it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t “love” someone by denigrating and dehumanizing them or by denying the reality and the beauty of that person’s most important relationship.

And if that kind of “love” is how you make others feel welcome, it’s no wonder that so many Catholics are voting with their feet and heading out the door.

tim_dolan_thisweekCardinal Dolan, your self-righteous belittling of same-sex relationships harkens back to a troubling time not long ago when LGBT people were so invisible that couples living together were referred to as “roommates” and “friends” so as not to make straight people squeamish. I understand that that’s the world you’d prefer to live in, but it’s a world that no longer exists. It’s 2013, and gays and lesbians are out, proud, and forming not only friendships, but loving, committed, lifelong relationships — and even marriages! — with one another. And you’re fighting a losing battle: three-fourths of American Catholics support civil marriage equality for same-sex couples, as do 81% of adults under 30.

So you go right on ahead pretending that your patronizing doublespeak constitutes some kind of welcoming, loving outreach to the LGBT community and our straight allies. We see right through it, and the rest of the country does as well. The longer you persist in your spiritual bullying, the more quickly you’re bringing about your own utter irrelevance.

History is passing you by, Cardinal Dolan. Enjoy the view.

Will Kohler: LGBT Delegates Should Protest Dolan’s DNC Prayer

Archbish-Tim-DolanLater this week, notoriously anti-gay Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will offer the final blessing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, just like he did last week at the Republican Party convention in Florida.

Contrasting Dolan’s long history of homophobia with the party’s inclusion of federal workplace protections and marriage equality in its 2012 platform, Will Kohler of Back2Stonewall called last week for all LGBT convention delegates (a record-setting number) and equality supporters to protest during Dolan’s prayer this Thursday:

There will be over 500 LGBT delegates at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and unless the DNC rescinds Cardinal Dolan’s invitation and replaces him with a more suitable religious leader I call upon EVERY ONE of them and LGBT journalists, bloggers and straight allies to protest during Dolan’s prayer. Stand up and turn your backs, walk out, or shout out. Let Dolan know that he and his anti-gay bigotry is unwelcomed and also let the DNC know that we will not take this slight lightly.

Enough is enough!

What do you think? Would a public show of disapproval of Timothy Dolan’s anti-LGBT activism send an important message about the political risk of pandering to homophobic religious conservatives, or would it undermine the party unity that conventions work so hard to cultivate?

Dolan to Bless GOP Convention; Catholic-Republican Alliance Complete

TimDolanLest there be any doubt whatsoever that the American Catholic bishops are in bed with the GOP, Mitt Romney announced yesterday that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on the same night that Romney accepts the party’s presidential nomination. Seriously.

But according to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for Dolan — who is Archbishop of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and currently suing the Obama administration over birth control — the cardinal giving his blessing to a purely partisan political convention, on national television, should not be viewed as an endorsement of the Republican Party. He told the Associated Press:

It’s not an endorsement. It’s as a priest going to pray.

Dolan’s apolitical claims are strikingly at odds with a statement Mitt Romney made to the New York Times about the Catholic bishops’ opposition to the birth control mandates in the Obama administration’s health care law:

Well, first of all, I’ll continue to meet with Cardinal Dolan, who, by the way, is going to offer the benediction on the last evening of the Republican Convention after my acceptance speech. So I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly.

Zwilling pointed out that Cardinal Dolan had also magnanimously reached out to the Democratic National Committee, informing them that he would gladly accept any invitation to offer a prayer at their convention as well. (Lawsuit? What lawsuit?)

Dolan seems to have no problem appearing to endorse the party of the Paul Ryan budget, which the USCCB strongly condemned as a moral failure. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the GOP just passed the most right-wing, anti-woman, anti-LGBT party platform in modern history – because if we know one thing, it’s that the leadership of the Catholic Church will do absolutely anything to block the rights of women and LGBT people.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s blessing of next week’s national gathering of Republicans makes it abundantly clear: the unholy alliance between the U.S. Catholic bishops and the GOP is complete.

Anti-Gay New York Archbishop Gave Payouts to Pedophile Priests in Milwaukee

Archbishop Timothy Dolan smiles during the Solemn Vespers ceremony for Dolan at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New YorkCardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the Archdiocese of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a major player in the fight to preserve marriage discrimination against same-sex couples. He has led his brother bishops in a sustained campaign of spiritual bullying against LGBT people and their Catholic allies that has become a top priority for church leaders. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Dolan, more than any other prelate, represents the public face of institutional Catholic homophobia in America.

Dolan’s bigotry isn’t new, either. In 2006, anti-gay activists in my home state of Wisconsin put a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment before voters in the November midterm election. While I, my husband Michael, and thousands of other equality supporters pounded pavement, knocked on doors, lobbied our elected officials, testified at hearings, and held rallies, educational events, and one-on-one conversations across the state in an ultimately ill-fated effort to defeat the bigoted ballot measure, Dolan — then the Archbishop of Milwaukee — led the Wisconsin Catholic Conference in exhorting Catholics to vote in favor of excluding gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage.

As it turns out, marriage discrimination wasn’t the only thing then-Archbishop Dolan took pains to protect. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that under Dolan’s watch, the Milwaukee Archdiocese made payments to suspected pedophile priests who agreed to step down from priestly ministry:

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed Wednesday that it paid suspected pedophile priests to surrender their clerical collars, after a document surfaced in its bankruptcy discussing a 2003 proposal to pay $20,000 to “unassignable priests” who accept laicization. . .

A document made public in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy recounts a 2003 meeting of its Finance Council, which included then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan and his auxiliary, Bishop Richard Sklba. According to the minutes, members discussed the church’s handling of sex abuse complaints, a looming budget deficit and various proposals to cut costs. Among them: offering “unassignable priests” $20,000 for laicization, “($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion of the process).”

The church has acknowledged paying $10,000 to at least one former priest, Franklyn Becker, who was defrocked in 2004, after Isely, who learned of the payment from Becker, raised the issue in 2006.

The 2003 minutes appear to be the first indication that the archdiocese may have had a formal policy to pay problem priests to leave.

A second former priest, Jerome Wagner of Fond du Lac, said Wednesday that he received $20,000 to seek laicization but characterized it as charity rather than a payoff on the part of the archdiocese.

Yup, that’s right: Timothy Dolan — the same man who hysterically compared allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style communist dictatorshipcharacterized marriage equality as “Orwellian social engineering”  and equated it with polygamy, whined that he had been tricked by pro-equality politicians after New York’s marriage equality law passed, and lied about Catholic churches being threatened with lawsuits intended to force them to perform same-sex weddings, all in the name of “protecting” marriage from a non-existent “threat” — sent hush money to suspected child molesters.

For now-Cardinal Dolan to smear loving and committed same-sex couples while simultaneously swapping cash for the clerical collars of alleged pedophiles requires a level of arrogance and moral bankruptcy that can only be described as astounding.

BREAKING: Internal NOM Documents Reveal Race-Baiting Strategy

Last night, the Human Rights Campaign released a slew of previously-sealed internal documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation’s largest, most visible, and most insidious group of marriage discrimination proponents. The documents, marked “confidential,” were unsealed yesterday afternoon in Maine as part of that state’s ongoing ethics investigation into NOM’s campaign finances. NOM, notoriously dogged in its efforts to fight internal disclosures of any kind, had sued in state court to block the investigation, and now we know why: the documents disclosed yesterday reveal the group’s vile and repugnant strategy of setting minority groups against each other through the shameful exploitation of race.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, check out some of these whoppers below. All emphases, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

Here’s how NOM plans to set the Latino and LGBT communities against each other, from page 17 of a “confidential” 2009 strategic report entitled National Strategy for Winning the Marriage Battle:

. . . by searching for these leaders across national boundaries we will assemble a community of next generation Latino leaders that Hispanics and other next generation elites in this country can aspire to be like. (As “ethnic rebels” such spokespeople will also have an appeal across racial lines, especially to young urbans in America).

. . . we will develop Spanish language radio and TV ads, as well as pamphlets, YouTube videos, and church handouts and popular songs. Our ultimate goal is to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist association to the bad side of “Anglo” culture.

And from a 2009 report to its board of directors, also marked “confidential:”

The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so [sic] in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.

In that board update, NOM is just as candid about its attempts to divide LGBTs and African Americans :

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates. . . find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.

The name of the “strategic project” to which the above quote refers? NOM’s “Not a Civil Right Project.” Just last week I wrote a column for the Huffington Post in which I said that the movement for LGBT rights and the movement for African American rights are both part of the same civil rights movement, and that it is crucially important for us to continue asserting so. I also wrote that equality-minded people of all races, ethnicities, orientations, and identities needed to push back against any attempt to avoid equating LGBT rights with civil rights — from either the right or the left — because it sets minority groups against each other, reinforces false hierarchies of oppression, and makes unjust accommodations for bigotry. Little did I know when I wrote those words that I was essentially outlining the strategic plan of the National Organization for Marriage. It’s more than a little chilling, if you ask me.

maggie2The NOM document dump is a veritable gold mine. For me, one of the most frightening revelations contained therein (at least in the documents I’ve read so far — stay tuned here and elsewhere for further details) is that the organization admits that it plans on exporting its hateful models overseas. In their own words, NOM is engaged in the process of “creating [templates] that can be used abroad” because it recognizes that “marriage needs to be a national (and ultimately international) effort.”

The 2009 strategic report also discusses NOM’s “American Principles Project,” which aims to “expose Obama as a social radical,” “develop side issues to weaken pro-gay marriage political leaders and parties and develop an activist base,” and “raise such issues as pornography, protection of children, and the need to oppose all efforts to weaken religious liberty at the federal level.” If this sounds strikingly similar to the presidential campaign strategy of one Rick Santorum, that’s because he’s been working with NOM since at least 2009. The same memo notes, in a section titled “Two Million for Marriage,” that Rick Santorum “has served as the face of this effort through e-mail and direct mail” and “has recently agreed to use his voice in a nationwide automated call effort to solicit activists and donations.” No wonder Maggie Gallagher endorsed Santorum earlier this year — her group is the one writing the former senator’s playbook.

Finally, a section on NOM’s “Catholic Clergy Project” touts the group’s “close relationships with Catholic bishops” and reveals its plans to use those relationships “to equip, energize and moralize Catholic priests on the marriage issue.” (Interestingly, it also describes Catholic priests as “notoriously difficult to personally reach.”) We’ve seen NOM’s Catholic-centered strategy play out all across the country, from then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan taking the lead in opposing marriage equality in New York to Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt injecting a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Catholic Mass and silencing any dissent among his priests on the marriage equality issue. And it has worked, at least to some degree, on the local level as well — in parishes and Catholic-affiliated institutions — with LGBT people in committed relationships being denied communion, gay Catholic school teachers being fired for daring to marry, prominent theologians being marginalized for openly supporting their loved ones in same-sex marriages, and homeless shelters having their Catholic funding yanked when their leaders hold pro-equality views.

All in all, the NOM documents are a smoking gun. Even though we knew — or at least suspected — that this was going on, reading NOM’s putridly divisive strategy in print is remarkably unsettling. The newly-released memos reveal a remarkably cynical, shrewd, callous organization that is willing to say and do whatever it takes — be it blatant race-baiting, spreading anti-gay lies through propaganda campaigns, or using religious leaders as weapons with which to bludgeon LGBT people from the pulpits and in their parishes — in order to prevent loving, committed same-sex couples from winning the freedom to marry. And they’re not satisfied with bullying LGBT people at home either — they also seek to spread their hateful bigotry across the world. The fallout from these damning revelations could and should be widespread and far-reaching. Stay tuned: we may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of the National Organization for Marriage.