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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Vastness of God's Love - Mercy Rules!

The Servants of the Father of Mercy are founded on the Father showing extraordinary mercy to the younger son in the story Jesus told to illustrate the vastness of God's love, "Parable of the Prodigal Son." (Photo - Artist, Rembrandt's Prodigal Son)

Now, today Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York comes out in the news as being merciful too. Mercy rules!

AP writer reports today that former president of US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan — a proud Irishman and grand marshal of the city's historic St. Patrick's Day Parade will lead the first gay group to march in the coming St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a symbol of the Church's new focus on not judging, but being kind and merciful to all.

"I think we're seeing the Catholicism of Pope Francis come to the Archdiocese of New York," said J. Patrick Hornbeck, chairman of the theology department at Fordham University. "Cardinal Dolan's [action] is welcoming. He did not make this decision, but sees the parade as an opportunity for unity."

Pope Francis last year said church leaders should focus more on mercy than on divisive social issues. He famously said, "Who am I to judge?" when asked about gays and lesbians who are seeking God.

Cardinal Dolan's position on the parade is the latest of his gentler comments on gays and lesbians.

Last year, Dolan was asked on ABC's "This Week" about gay and lesbian Catholics who felt rejected by the church. "Well, the first thing I'd say to them is, 'I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God's image and likeness,'" Dolan said.

When Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay earlier this year, Dolan said, "Good for him."

"I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless you," Dolan said in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The same Bible that tells us that — teaches us well about the virtues of chastity — and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, 'Bravo.'"

As the St. Patrick's Day Parade has no direct ties to the church, but celebrates a Catholic saint has always been a key event for the city's Irish Catholics.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook with people who are upset," Lawler said. "Cardinal Dolan said, 'I'm sure there have been lots of homosexuals marching in the parade before,' but homosexuals identifying themselves seems a contradiction in honoring a [loving] Catholic saint."

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said he thinks Dolan feels freer to take positions like his stand on the parade now that he is no longer the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"I think he's able to be more of a pastor to the people of New York than he had been when he was on the national stage, bishops primarily are pastors and teachers and I think he's fulfilling that role," DeBernardo said. "I think Pope Francis has been teaching the bishops what being a pastor means."

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