New York Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been incredibly vocal in his opposition to marriage equality, repeatedly condemning the rights of same-sex couples under the guise of love and support for the gay community. As of last month, he has prohibited by decree any Church personnel or property from being utilized for same-sex marriage ceremonies under penalty of “canonical sanctions,” calling the state’s new marriage equality “irreconcilable with the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine law”:
1. No member of the clergy (priest or deacon) incardinated or assisting in the Archdiocese of New York, or any person while acting as an employee of the Church, may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage, which includes but is not limited to providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privilege for such event. Ecclesiastical solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriages is expressly forbidden by Canon law.
2. No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health, or charitable institutions or benevolent orders, or any place dedicated, consecrated, or used for Catholic worship may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.
The property restrictions in Dolan’s decree are troubling, particularly given he specifically cites educational and health institutions. This would mean that a bed-ridden patient in a Catholic hospital would not be permitted to marry his partner on the property. It’s not clear from the decree, but this could conceivably extend to any and all recognition of same-sex unions, which would create severe complications for couples who might be accessing healthcare or charitable services that are provided by the Church.
Dolan continues to show just how out of step Catholic leadership is from the mainstream Catholic population, which overwhelmingly supports marriage equality. With this decree, Dolan signifies that discriminating against same-sex couples is one of the Church’s highest priorities.