Culture

Chicago cardinal leads new fight against gay marriage

cardinal george
Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Chicago

(RNS) Chicago Cardinal Francis George has launched a last-ditch campaign to convince the lame-duck Illinois legislature not to legalize same-sex marriage, saying that government “has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

cardinal george

Chicago Cardinal Francis George has launched a last-ditch campaign to convince the lame-duck Illinois legislature not to legalize same-sex marriage, saying that government “has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.” Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Chicago

The cardinal and his six auxiliary bishops on Tuesday (Jan. 1) sent a letter to all priests in the Chicago archdiocese that asks parishioners to contact lawmakers to urge them to vote against the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

The bill is expected to be introduced this week and debated before a new set of legislators is sworn in on Jan. 9.

Catholic leaders noted that previous Illinois legislatures have passed other controversial measures during lame-duck sessions, such as abolishing the death penalty and approving civil unions for same-sex partners.

The showdown is the first test of strength between the Catholic Church and gay marriage advocates since Election Day in November, when voters in three states endorsed same-sex marriage and refused to ban it in a fourth.

Those unprecedented votes were seen as a watershed that reflected rapid changes in the public’s acceptance of gay rights; the Catholic hierarchy and religious conservatives have been trying to figure out how to respond to the shifts.

In their letter – and in more extensive remarks in the cardinal’s weekly column – George and the Chicago bishops argue that their opposition to gay marriage is not a political maneuver or an attempt to promote Catholic morality but an effort to oppose attacks on “the common good of society.”

“Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity,” the bishops write.

The bishops say that those who oppose same-sex marriage will be cast as “the equivalent of bigots.” But they argue that they are simply advocating for commonly held moral norms, and note that the church condemns violence or hatred toward gays and lesbians.

Not all religious leaders, or even most Catholics, agree with George, a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Chicago Tribune reported that more than 250 Illinois clergy, mostly Protestant and Jewish, last month sent an open letter to legislators, and that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, both Catholics, have endorsed the bill.

Others argue that the bishops’ efforts to cast the fight against gay marriage as a defense of some universal “natural law” are flawed.

“The plain and simple fact is that reasoning about what is ‘natural’ is deeply vulnerable to distortion by one’s own personal values and preferences,” University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone wrote in The Huffington Post.

“Cardinal George insists that same-sex marriage is incompatible with ‘nature.’ One might just as easily say the same about celibacy. There is such a thing as right and wrong, but invocations of what ‘nature’ commands is no way to get there.”

It’s unclear what, if any, influence George may have. Similar attempts by influential cardinals to stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C., have all failed.

KRE/AMB END GIBSON

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

10 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • I have always believed Homosexuality to be a disorder of the brains understanding of symbolism ?thus a neuroses.Many Homosexuals of the past have worked out the routes of this disorder with the help of good council ears are well know and have families and are leading a normal life.

    The homosexual neurosis is one thing but out right defiance of GODS law and commandments is sheer hate and rebellion against the truth.Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft it is a very demonized position they are in.PRAY PRAY PRAY

    THEY ARE NOT GAY.THEY ARE SODOMITES…………….REMEMBER SODOM AND GOMMORA IT WILL NOT ONLY BE LOTS WIFE THAT WAS TURNED INTO A PILLAR OF SALT,IT WILL BE A CHASTISEMENT WE CANNOT EVEN COMPREHEND THAT WE WILL ALL SUFFER FOR THE SINS OF THE PRESENT WORLD WE LIVE IN.

  • @Kenneth: At first I thought you were a bigoted dinosaur of a human being who based his morality on a literal reading of a fairy tale but then your tasteful use of CAPS LOCK totally convinced me.~

  • @Kenneth I have always believed Christianity to be a disorder of the brain’s understanding of cause and effect; thus, a neurosis. Many Christians of the past have worked out the roots of this disorder with the help of good educators, and now are well known and have families and are leading a normal life.

    The Christian neurosis is one thing, but outright defiance of Christ’s commandment to love all people is merely hate and rebellion against social norms. Closing one’s eyes against love is as the sin of pride: it is a very dangerous position they are in. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

    THEY ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. THEY ARE HYPOCRITES! REMEMBER THE MONEY-CHANGERS JESUS THREW OUT OF THE TEMPLE. IT WILL NOT ONLY BE THE GREEDY WHO ARE CAST OUT OF THE HOUSE OF GOD, IT WILL BE A PUNISHMENT WE CANNOT EVEN COMPREHEND THAT WE WILL ALL SUFFER FOR THE SINS OF THE SO-CALLED CHRISTIANS WHO PROMOTE HATE.

    See? We can make up capitalized nonsense too, we just do it with better grammar.

  • You can’t twist what Jesus said about loving others. Jesus warned people about hell more than anything else…would it not be hateful to let someone headed for hell continue on there with no warning? It is from pure love that Christians speak the truth. Jesus didn’t tell people that it was ok to sit in the filth of their sins; He told people to go and sin no more. Stop all that mumbo jumbo regarding Christ’s words and actually read what He taught … or kindly refrain from posting comments that are not truthful or helpful. Peace.

  • I ask all of us to pray yo God to open our hearts to be able to gleen from Sodom an Gomorrah, what the true Sin commuted was. Try and see it through thext that is presente, not by what a a particular doctrine posits on the text. Sit with with God a first century readers. Peace to all

  • All responses were Heretical Poison.

    These people have made up the biggest fabrication on earth.

    I was constantly hounded by these type of people as a boy.

    They were twisted liars all of them.I have never met one yet that

    Didn’t say try or do something disgusting and abominable to me

    I will say no more about it.But I could write a book about the filth they tried to expose me to.From 14years old up to this very day.I no longer want to hear the

    Stench of Thier Satanic DOGMA.

  • Just accept it. Gay is wrong. Nothing complicated. The human sexual organs are created in such a manner that only the male penis can come in union with the woman’s vagina. The union is so perfectly miraculous that only an ultimate creator can invent this. Imagine going against the will of this divine creator….May peace be with you, gays.

  • Are you on crack?
    Hell was his most important issue?
    And gays, apparently?

    If that was the case, then why did…
    1. Jesus never say a single utterance against homosexuality?
    and
    2. Jesus’ two biggest commandments were LOVE GOD and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.

    “Thou shalt not be gay” didn’t make the cut.

    Don’t tell me to read what he taught when you’re clearly listening to right-winged bigots who know nothing of Christ.
    Bunch o’ hypocrities.

    Let me know when you are free of sin and you can caste your first stone right at my f%*#ing head.

ADVERTISEMENTs