Cardinal Dolan: Church has been out-marketed

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2013


“Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes,” he said on Meet the Press, according to a preview of the Sunday interview reported by the Associated Press. “We’ve been caricatured as being antigay.”

This is the explanation Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, gives for the reason that the United States is marching firmly in the direction of marriage equality. (The interview can be seen Sunday night on NBC’s Meet the Press.)

“When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle,” he said.

The Cardinal is correct that public image and social pressure were the factors that swept away the argument of the American Catholic Bishops and which will result in equality not only in the United States but in most of the Christian and Catholic World. But Hollywood and politicians only deserve part of the credit.

The real credit lies elsewhere.

America has come to know who Catholic Cardinals are. Media stopped giving the Church a pass and over the past decade or so the real lives of Catholic priests have been exposed.

The public has discovered that all that they feared and despised about gay people – irresponsible sexuality, a threat to their children, flaunters of law and social order – had been blamed on the wrong party. It was not Hairdresser Joe that their sons needed to be warned about, but Father Joe.

And through it all, the Bishops – in their arrogance – failed miserably in maintaining their image. They fought futile public battles to keep their crimes a secret, they threw nuns out of convents in order to raise money to pay their settlements, they put forward spokesmen who demanded that the public obey their will without question, all while parading their own wealth and power and political connections. And, in the process, the Church lost its credibility on matters of morality and social good.

And, most foolish of all, they failed to address the very real, very identifiable needs of same-sex couples. While the public was looking at a problem and seeking a solution, the Church could have endorsed civil unions as a means to address the economic and political inequalities, while holding marriage as sacred and separate.

But instead they adopted absolutism and offered nothing. And did so in very nasty terms.

The Church could have easily won the battle over the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, but they were caricatured as anti-gay and they were terribly out-marketed. By themselves.


November 30th, 2013

I agree, Timothy. The church has lost much of its credibility, especially on sexual and marital matters.

I mean, is there anybody more unqualified to speak on sexual and marital matters that an institution exclusively made up of unmarried men who are supposedly celibate for life and which has hid child abusers in its ranks for decades?

I think even Catholics in Western countries believe they are better qualified than the Catholic Church to make such moral judgements, and understandably so.

Given its sorry history, including its propping up of Fascist regimes, people think that the Church should mind its own business, get out of politics and stop trying to dictate how people should run their lives and what rights they should have.


November 30th, 2013

Yes, Cardinal, if there are two groups of people who have always portrayed gay and bi people positively, without exception, since the dawn of time, they’re filmmakers and politicians.

Richard Rush

November 30th, 2013

Cardinal Dolan: “We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay, [just as we’ve been previously caricatured as being anti-Semitic].”


November 30th, 2013

While the public was looking at a problem and seeking a solution, the Church could have endorsed civil unions as a means to address the economic and political inequalities, while holding marriage as sacred and separate.

Their opposition was likely absolutist in motivation. All or nothing, as you say. However, for an advocate of traditional marriage, civil unions make for a worse outcome than simply extending the marriage law to encompass same sex couples.

In both France and The Netherlands, it was found that once straight couples had the option of a form of union unencumbered with the cultural baggage of traditional marriage they turned to it in droves.

This is what conservatives fail to realise most of the time. Many conservatives seem to fantasise that marriage would be improved by reverting to a more restrictive form of contract where divorce is made more difficult. The only way this might get through is if there was another kind of union offered (for straights and gays) that retained an option for no fault dissolution. In that scenario, evidence suggests that marriage would very quickly become a minority institution.

Most conservatives, like the Catholic hierarchy, haven’t clued in that in the modern world in which we live, marriage equality is realistically the most conservative position.

Ben in Oakland

December 1st, 2013

I do have a lot to say about this.

How do you like that? the Veritable Word o’ God was out marketed by a bunch of mere mortals? Apparently, human rights and the Word o’ God are just like toothpaste or hybrid cars.

I actually see this comment as part and parcel of all of the other meme’s floating out there in antigay land to explain why we are actually changing the culture in the face of the clearWord o’ God.. We’ve bullied individuals, legislatures, corporations, denominations, electorates and whole nations into bending to our will. We’ve painted them as bigots and haters when alL they’re ding is defending traditional marriage– from people like us. We,re mysteriously persecute them by pointing out he their words and actions either matcho r don’t match their words and actions.

Here’s a different point of view. What you did, O Corpulent Man in a Dress, was take a pile of dog poop, 2000 years old and miraculously still steaming, dressed it in a pretty party frock, and tried to pass it off as a Prom Queen. Up until this point, you were able to continue selling the Prom Poop, just like you were able to sell the idea that if you only BELIEVE–and tithe and obey– you’ll have eternal life. After all, to verify THAT, you’d have to die, so there were no contradictory messages.

But in this case, Anyone with a lick of sense, a smattering of education, an ounce of compassion, a dram of empathy– and most importantly, a friend or relative who is gay– can see that no matter how pretty the party frock, it’s still a pile of crap. You’re not being caricatured as anti gay, you ARE antigay. Whether calling my marriage a threat to heterosexual marriage by a means as mysterious as a cracker becoming the body of god, by calling me intrinsically disordered and morally evil, by reviling (cornthians 6:9-10) you’ve made it abundantly clear that YOU believe the Pile o’ Poop is a Prom Queen.

Real human beings are not so easily fooled.


December 1st, 2013

No Tim, the Church has been out-compassioned.

Donny D.

December 1st, 2013

Yet again, a Religious Right organization complains mightily that it’s being viciously and mendaciously attacked when its opponents simply report its actual words and behavior.


December 2nd, 2013

If we succeed, praise God (maybe), if we fail, blame every power but God (definitely). Is the God they believe in so weak that even Hollywood and politicians could overcome Him? Or maybe, “God Hates Gays” is not the main message of the Good Book, but by making that their focus anyway, they doomed themselves to failure.


December 3rd, 2013

And here I was thinking that god had the world in his hands. I guess even he realized how powerless (non-existent?) god really is. Ultimately 1.2 billion people were not enough for god to not turn the wife into a pillar of salt. OH, and maybe the roman catholic version of the supernatural tales collection are just fairy tales after all.

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