NEW YORK, NY, November 25, 2011
In the aftermath of the legalization of gay “marriage” in New York state, some commentators had wondered why, despite their leadership role in the fight against the law, the state’s Catholic bishops’ efforts had ultimately seemed so strangely half-hearted, given the high stakes.
One of these was gay activist Terence Weldon. Writing after the vote at the blog “Queering the Church,” he said: “the really interesting thing about the Catholic bishops and NY gay marriage is not how vigorously they fought against it (as the headlines would have it), but how lukewarm this opposition was overall, and how calm they have been in response.”
Weldon pointed out that of 21 bishops in the state, he could only think of two who had taken any public steps to fight the gay “marriage” law - Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Bishop Nicholas DiMazio. Overall he described the response of the bishops to the passage of the law as “muted and moderate.”
It is a puzzling question, but in a mostly overlooked interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo in August, Archbishop Dolan gave some insight into what happened behind the scenes, suggesting that the bishops had, in fact, deliberately avoided “pulling out the stops.”
Why? Because, Dolan says, he and his fellow bishops had been assured by “political allies” that the bill didn’t have any legs, and that there was no need to expend resources fighting it.
In retrospect, said Dolan, he and the other bishops are wondering if they weren’t being deceived.
“We fell for the assurances of people that we thought were political allies that this wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Dolan told Arroyo, pointing out that there was “some credibility” to this claim, since past efforts to legalize gay “marriage” in New York had failed.
“So we had political allies who said, ‘Bishops, keep your ammo dry, you don’t have to pull out all the stops, speak on principle, speak up against this bill, but don’t really worry because it’s not going to go anywhere.’
“We were told that Raymond, up to six days before the bill passed.”
In reference to the “allies” who misled the bishops, Dolan mused: “Were they caught by surprise? Did they believe the words they were telling us? Or were they being a little bit edgy in saying let’s keep the bishops quiet by assuring them that this isn’t going anywhere? That I don’t know.”
Dolan referred to the passage of the bill as, “Very sad. Very sobering,” and lambasted the manner in which the legislation was passed, describing it as “a very well-oiled, high financed program of manipulation.”
“Not only are we…upset with the bill, we’re upset with the way it was done,” he said. “This was hardly democracy in action.”
“If you were so convinced that this was the will of the people, why didn’t we have a referendum, and why did you literally have to lock the doors and not face any public, because you knew it really wasn’t going to go over, right?”
Dolan’s latter statement appeared to be a reference to the fact that the public had reportedly been barred from committee meetings on the bill.
Dolan also said that the bishops were deceived on the question of the protection of religious freedom in the final bill.
“We said the next thing will be we’ll be sued if we don’t do marriage, we’re going to be harassed if we don’t do receptions, we’re going to be penalized if we don’t allow adoption, we’re going to be booed if we don’t hire these people,” Dolan told Arroyo.
But he said, people responded saying, “You’re paranoid, you’re Chicken Littles. It’s never going to happen.
Well, Dolan said, “It’s already happening.”
“The guaranteed religious liberty wasn’t even given in the bill. We were told it would be, don’t worry, you don’t have to worry, your rights are going to be fine.”
So what did the bishops learn from the experience?
“It sort of taught us that it’s not all that good to trust politicians sometimes,” Dolan said. “And I think some of us bishops think we were being deceived. And I think that could be, shame on us for believing them.”
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