Catholic decree on gay marriage comes as no surprise

Rosemary Palladino of Grasmere would like to get married in a Catholic church, but knows it probably won’t happen.

Ms. Palladino, an attorney, attends weekly mass with her partner of her partner of 38 years, Marianne Brennick. She wondered why Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, following the spiritual lead of Pope Benedict XVI, felt the need to issue an official statement, banning gay marriage in Roman Catholic churches in the archdiocese.

In a decree dated Oct. 18, Archbishop Dolan forbade any priest or deacon from performing same-sex marriages. The unions cannot be done in any church building, hall or other property. The prohibition even extends to consecrated items such as chalices, vestments and liturgical books.

“The marital union between one man and one woman was universally accepted by civil law as a constitutive element of human society, which is vital to the human family and to the continuation of the human race,” Archbishop Dolan said.

“In reversal of this tradition, the New York State Legislature recently enacted a law that recognized same-sex union as marriages in the State of New York. This law is irreconcilable with the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine law.”

A complete version of the decree is listed under the pastoral tab at

The state’s Marriage Equality Act permits same-sex civil unions while at the same time protecting the right of religious groups to choose against performing the marriages.

“It would be wonderful to be able to get married in the Catholic Church but I don’t expect it, I don’t hope for it and I don’t need it because we could get married in a civil setting,” said Ms. Palladino, who intends to wed but so far has no definite plans.

A founder of Staten Island Stonewall, Ms. Palladino questioned why religious groups have involved themselves in the issue of civil marriage for same-sex couples.

“I think the whole issue of religious marriage was just an attempt to muddy the waters,” Ms. Palladino said. “The bill was not about making Catholic churches or other churches perform marriages for same-sex couples. It was about making civil marriage available to same-sex couples, regardless of what religion they follow or don’t follow.”

She continued: “What I don’t understand is why religious organizations try to interfere with the civil rights of people as they have done in New York and California. I especially wonder how many of their members approve of the fact that their donations are being used to wage these legal battles.”

Archbishop Dolan’s decree has “no bearing on what city hall does,” said state Sen. Diane Savino.

“Marriage is a sacrament, the church has a right to determine who they marry and who they don’t,” she added.

She said she was puzzled about why the archbishop felt a need to issue the decree.

“I guess he felt he had to clarify, I’m not sure why,” Ms. Savino said.

“It’s a house of worship, it’s their right, otherwise, no comment,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone, who married his partner of 18 years, Giosue Pugliese, at Borough Hall in September.

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