Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan of San Diego to become the next Bishop of Phoenix, starting in August 2022.
Bp. Dolan has been hailed as an "LGBT-positive priest" back in 2016 by "New Ways Ministry," hereafter NWM (Shine, 2016). The group, NWM, does not represent official Catholic teaching and their founders have been removed from any pastoral work with the LBGT community. The late Cardinal George said of NWM, “I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” (CNA, 2010).
So, why do I bring this up now? He's not even in the office yet, it was just announced yesterday, so why am I on this topic already? Well, let me just say I am willing to give Bp. Dolan a chance, and I hope and pray he does not stray from official Catholic teaching. He has openly stated that he does not "draw a line in the sand" and prefers open dialog (Long-Garcia, 2022) - so let us pray this is true and while he has compassion for the LBGT community - he also has compassion for those who stand for orthodoxy in Catholic teaching.
That said, I do not oppose the LBGT community and their right to exist as American citizens. However, when it comes to the teaching of the Catholic Church it is quite clear, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
Tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. Under no circumstance can they be approved. (Catholic Church, 1997, para. 2357)
Hence, we come to the teaching of "hate the sin, love the sinner" (Clowes, 2020). While we cannot condone homosexual acts as moral, we should approach those prone to same-sex attraction with compassion and support, as the CCC also teaches:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
By virtues of self-mastery that teach them [persons with same-sex attraction] 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 (Catholic Church, 1997, para. 2358-2359).
"Christian perfection" does not include one who openly or willingly embraces that which is "intrinsically disordered." There can be no doubt that some are attracted to those of the same sex. The mere attraction itself does not constitute sin, only acting upon the attraction can or does.
I am not aware of any glaring opposition to official Catholic teaching - let us hope and pray it never comes to that - and Bp. Dolan will continue to have my support.
I welcome your comments.
Catholic Church. (1997). Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference.
Clowes, B. (2020). What does the Catholic Church teach about homosexuality? Human Life International. https://www.hli.org/resources/catholic-church-on-homosexuality/
CNA, (2010). New Ways Ministry not approved by Catholic Church, Cardinal George states. Catholic News Agency. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/18668/new-ways-ministry-not-approved-by-catholic-church-cardinal-george-states
Long-Garcia, J.D., (2022). Phoenix’s newly appointed bishop John Dolan ‘likes to dialogue, rather than shut things down’. America, The Jesuit Review. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/06/10/bishop-john-dolan-appointed-phoenix-243139
Shine, R., (2016). Pope Francis appoints LGBT-positive priest as auxiliary bishop in San Diego. New Ways Ministry. https://www.newwaysministry.org/2017/05/27/pope-francis-appoints-lgbt-positive-priest-as-auxiliary-bishop-in-san-diego/