On First Day as Archbishop, Dolan Says He Won't 'Shy Away' From Gay Marriage Fight

The archbishop is making it clear he'll fight Gov. Paterson's gay marriage legislation.

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BY Christina Boyle
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Gov. Paterson will unveil his gay marriage legislation Thursday and Archbishop Timothy Dolan is making it clear he will fight it.

Hours before his installation as head of the Archdiocese of New York Wednesday, Dolan said he would oppose Paterson's push to let gays and lesbians wed.

"You can bet I will be active and present and, I hope, articulate in this position," Dolan said in his first press conference.

"The topic you raise - other topics that are controversial, that the church has a message to give - yeah, you'll find that I don't shy away from those things and I wouldn't sidestep them."

New Yorkers should expect no less he noted.

"There's no escaping the fact that the pulpit of the archbishop of New York has a particular prominence whether I like it or not," he said. "And I don't know if I'm going to do anything different than in the past."

But "I made it pretty clear, we bishops aren't into politics, we're into principles," he added.

Paterson will relaunch the effort to legalize gay marriage Thursday with the reintroduction of a bill that failed in 2007.

He hopes to tap into the momentum of other states, such as Vermont and Iowa, which passed similar legislation recently.

Paterson declined to say how he'll counter his new opponent.

"Whenever there's legislation, it's a chance to discuss issues and a chance to persuade people," Paterson said.

At least four Democratic state senators oppose gay marriage, including Bronx Pentecostal minister Sen. Ruben Diaz, who said the timing of Paterson's bill was "disrespectful" to Dolan.

Dolan said his views on same-sex marriage are aligned with those of the Catholic Church, which opposes gay unions.

In his wide-ranging meeting with reporters:

Dolan addressed the Catholic Church's child sex-abuse scandals and said progress had been made to heal old wounds, but more should be done.

"We have looked this straight in the eye," Dolan said.

"We have a lot of credibility to regain, a lot of trust to regain, a lot of victim survivors who are hurting big time."

He also touched on the need for established parishioners to support New York's immigrant community.

"We've got to revive within the more settled Catholic people a sense of energetic solicitude for the immigrants that are coming Thursday," he said. "The immigrants have got to be able to look to us for care, for support, for love."

He said getting Catholics back to church is a major goal.

"That's a biggie," he said, acknowledging that more and more Catholics and Christians think they can be religious without going to church.

"They want to believe without belonging," he said. "They don't see the need for a church. They don't see the need for organized religion."

On a lighter note, he said he hoped to spread a message of joy and God's love.

"A life of giving, serving, sacrifice makes us happier," he said.

"Joy is contagious."

With Glenn Blain and Larry McShan.