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Cardinal George: Up to lawmakers to ‘vote according to their conscience’

Updated: January 6, 2013 5:14PM

Cardinal Francis George said Roman Catholic leaders oppose legislation allowing same-sex marriages because such a step runs counter to natural law.

“If it’s just a civil right, the state can change it. But this is a natural right,” George said Sunday following Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

The Chicago cardinal and his auxiliary bishops released a letter last week asking parishioners to oppose a proposal to legalize same-sex marriages in Illinois. That legislation could come up for a vote in the General Assembly later this month.

George didn’t mention the issue during the church service celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, although a lector asked parishioners to read the letter and contact their political leaders.

Speaking to reporters after the service, George said the debate over allowing gays to marry is less a religious issue than an attempt by the state to create something that he said nature doesn’t allow.

“These are limitations that were imposed by nature and the state has no authority over that,” George said.

In their letter, George and his bishops stated a similar theme, saying same-sex marriages are impossible because they cannot be physically consummated.

Recognizing such marriages, the bishops wrote, “means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible.”

On Sunday, George denied that stand means the church is discriminating against gay parishioners.

“What’s at issue is changing the nature of marriage,” George said.

He said its up to state legislators to study the issue and then “vote according to their conscience.”

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