The Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has reiterated the opposition to gay relationship by the Catholic Church, and went on to say that gay couples are only “entitled to friendship”, and that “sexual love…is intended only for a man and a woman”.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, the Cardinal made the claims on behalf of the Catholic Church in response to the Supreme Court’s taking up of two cases around equal marriage bans in the US.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Dolan about his opinion on gay Catholics within the Church.

He said: “Many gay and lesbian Americans gay and lesbian Catholics, they feel unwelcome in the Church. And what do you say as a minister, as a pastor – to a gay couple that comes to you and say, ‘We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we –– want to raise a family in faith.’ What do you say to them?”

Timothy Dolan replied that gay couples were “entitled to friendship”, but went on to say that sexual relationships should be reserved for opposite-sex couples only, in the eyes of the church.

The Cardinal responded: “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. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’

“But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.”

Dolan’s claims came at the end of a week of heavy media coverage around two days of hearings on equal marriage at the US Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday indicated a possible interest in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as it heard arguments around the issue.

This was the second day of hearings, as Tuesday the court heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. Then the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban. 

A decision by the Supreme Court in both cases is expected by the end of June.

Last year, an official affiliated with the New York Roman Catholic archdiocese, quit the junior board of Catholic Charities over a heterosexuals-only policy implemented by the church for homeless people.

The resignation came after Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who heads the largest archdiocese in the US, failed to respond to a “call for help” for homeless youths who are not heterosexual.