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Cardinal George asks Catholics to oppose gay marriage bill

Cardinal George presides over mass. l Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Cardinal George presides over a mass. l Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 3, 2013 6:20AM



Cardinal Francis George issued a letter Tuesday calling laws permitting same-sex marriage a “legal fiction” and directing the local Catholic faithful to contact state legislators about a proposed Illinois gay marriage bill.

His statement comes days before state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) are expected to introduce a gay-marriage legalization measure into January’s lame-duck legislative session. Nine states currently recognize gay marriage, including Maryland, where same-sex couples first were wed legally just after midnight Tuesday.

“It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love,” George writes in the letter, meant for inclusion in parish bulletins to be distributed this upcoming weekend. “Does this mean nature is cruel or that God is unfair? No, but it does mean that marriage is what nature tells us it is and that the state cannot change natural marriage.”

George writes that despite the church’s anti-gay marriage position, the church itself is not anti-gay. He points to a number of groups for Catholic gays, including AGLO, a 25-year-old program that meets for mass weekly at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Boystown.

“[T]he Church welcomes everyone, respects each one personally and gives to each the spiritual means necessary to convert to God’s ways and maintain friendship with Christ,” George writes, later continuing, “People live out their sexual identity in different ways, but the church offers the means to live chastely in all circumstances, as the love of God both obliges and makes possible.”

George called Illinois legislators moving to legalize same-sex marriage “acting against the common good of society. We will all have to pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.”

Longtime gay activist Rick Garcia, director of The Civil Rights Agenda’s Equal Marriage Illinois Project, called George’s position “unfortunate” in an email.

“How the Church — or any faith — views marriage within its own institution is one thing, but secular society treats marriage as a civil right,” said Garcia, who described himself as a practicing Catholic. “No individual or church, including Cardinal George and the Catholic Church is going to be forced to perform or recognize any marriages they would not find consistent with their own beliefs. . . . What also will not change is the fact that secular society views marriage as a fundamental civil right that should be afforded to all.”

George ends his letter by directing readers to www.ilcatholic.org, the Website for the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which includes contact information for state legislators. Also signing the letter are six auxiliary bishops.

It’s unclear whether the Illinois bill has the support needed to pass, but it has one high-profile backer. President Barack Obama has encouraged the General Assembly to support the bill, called the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.”

George’s strong words likely will not come as a surprise for gay-rights advocates. In 2011, during a television interview, George compared the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan. He was weighing in on a controversy surrounding changes to the gay pride parade’s route and start time, which would have sent the busy parade by Our Lady of Mount Carmel during Mass. Gay-rights activists demanded an apology, and some called for him to resign. He apologized for the remarks, which he said were meant in the context of groups attempting to stifle religious freedom.



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