Prominent American Catholics said Sunday that gays and lesbians should be welcomed with open arms, but Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said the church needs to do a better job of ensuring that its defense of traditional marriage is not seen as "an attack on gay people."
Last week's Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage has brought the issue front and center for the Catholic Church, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman but, said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, remains open for all."We are always welcoming of everyone. The Catholic Church welcomes everyone,"
Cardinal Wuerl, of the Archdiocese of Washington, said on "Fox News Sunday." "But, the Catholic Church also reminds all of us, there is a moral law. There are commandments of God, and we have to do our best to live by them. We announce that from the pulpit and we try to meet people where they are and walk with them in life's journey."
Cardinal Wuerl said the Church could recognize same-sex marriage no more than it could recognize the marriage of a person who has been divorced.
"We say you are still part of the family, but we can't recognize that second marriage," he said. "We do that, we've done that — and it has never been a great problem."
Both Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal Dolan said they do not want to see the Church's defense of traditional marriage be construed as bigotry, or an attack on a particular group.
"We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people," Cardinal Dolan said on ABC's "This Week." "And I admit, we haven't been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we're not an anti-anybody. We're in the defense of what God has taught us about marriage. And it's one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life. We gotta do better to try to take that away from being anti-anybody."
The perception by some that the two tenets cannot be reconciled worries Cardinal Wuerl.
"The only thing I worry about is someone saying ... because you believe that sex is intended for marriage, and because you believe that marriage is undissolvable and because you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, that somehow you don't belong here, that somehow this is bigotry or this is hate speech," he said. "That's what I worry about. There has to be room enough in the society as large, as free and as pluralistic as America, to make space for all of us."
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