In interpreting Pope Francis' remarks on civil unions for gay couples, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said that the pope is simply questioning the appeal of such arrangements.

Last week, Pope Francis suggested civil unions for gay couples might be acceptable to the church.

“Do you imagine the church might open the way to accepting civil unions?” Meet the Press' David Gregory asked.

“If I saw the reports accurately, he didn't come right out and say he was for them,” Dolan answered. “Once again, in an extraordinarily sincere, open, nuanced way, he said, ' I know that some people in some states have chosen this. We need to think about that and look into it and see the reasons that have driven them.'”

“It wasn't as if he came out and approved them. But in a sensitivity that has won the heart of the world, he said, 'Rather than quickly condemn them, let's see if, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people.'”

(Related: Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Michael Sam's coming out gay: Good for him.)

When asked if civil unions would make him “uncomfortable,” Dolan answered “it would, in a way” because marriage is “not something that's just a religious, sacramental concern.”

Marriage is “also the building block of society and culture. So it belongs to culture. And if we water down that sacred meaning of marriage in any way, I worry that not only the church would suffer, I worry that culture and society would [suffer].”

Dolan was a leading opponent of New York's gay marriage law, calling it “Orwellian social engineering.”

(Related: Timothy Dolan calls gay marriage “Orwellian social engineering.”)