Illinois, which already has a civil union law, signed by Catholic Governor Pat Quinn, will be taking up the issue of marriage equality in the legislature this year. Catholics have already entered the debate on this topic on both sides of the question.
Cardinal Francis George
At the beginning of this month, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George wrote a letter to priests asking them to urge parishioners to oppose the marriage bill.
The Chicago Sun-Times quoted part of the letter:
“ ‘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.’ ”
In this quote, we see a new trend in statements by Catholic hierarchy: they are starting to acknowledge that the relationship between two people of the same gender can be defined as a love relationship.
The cardinal’s argument did not convince Rick Garcia, a longtime Chicago advocate for LGBT issues. The Sun-Times quotes his reaction:
“ ‘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.’ ”
A Chicago Tribune article on George’s letter notes that two prominent Illinois Catholics support the marriage bill: Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.
Dignity/Chicago President Chris Pett also criticized the cardinal’s statement. Pett noted that
“. . . the cardinal might have had pastoral intentions, but he missed an opportunity to call for dialogue and engage with the gay community. Instead, the cardinal made it clear that the church would fight marriage equality ‘until the bitter end.’ “
David Gibson, a long-time observer of the Catholic Church, notes in a USA Today article that George’s comments may not have the power to stop the bill from becoming law:
“It’s unclear what, if any, influence George may have. Similar attempts by influential cardinals to stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C., and Maryland have all failed.”
more at « Bondings 2.0.