Cardinal Francis George and the six auxiliary bishops of Chicago have warned that a proposal to recognize “gay marriage” in Illinois is against the common good and will force Illinoisans to “pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.”
“Civil laws that establish ‘same-sex marriage’ create a legal fiction.
The state has no power to create something that nature itself tells us
is impossible,” the bishops said in a Jan. 1 letter.
Cardinal George has sent the letter to every priest in the Archdiocese
of Chicago, asking that the letter be distributed in parish bulletins
Illinois State Sen. Heather Steans and State Rep. Greg Harris, both
Chicago Democrats, have said they will introduce the legislation before
the Jan. 9 end of the legislative session. The bill, called “The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” would change the
definition of marriage under Illinois law from “between a man and a
woman” to “between two persons.”
Cardinal George, in a Jan. 6 column for the Catholic New World, said
the mention of religious freedom in the proposed bill is “ironic if not
“Those who know that marriage is a union between a man and a woman for
the sake of family will carry a social opprobrium that will make them
unwelcome on most university faculties and on the editorial boards of
major newspapers,” the cardinal said. “They will be excluded from the
entertainment industry. Their children and grandchildren will be taught
in the government schools that their parents are unenlightened, the
equivalent of misguided racists.”
“Laws teach; they express accepted social values and most people go
along with societal trends, even when majority opinion espouses immoral
causes,” Cardinal George noted.
The Chicago bishops’ letter denied that “gay marriage” is truly
marriage. They said it is “physically impossible” for two men or two
women to consummate a marriage “even when they share a deep friendship
Cardinal George pointed out that the lack of consummation is grounds for annulment under civil law.
The bishops explained in their letter that this lack of consummation
does not mean that nature is unfair or that God is cruel. Rather, it
means that marriage is “what nature tells us” and that the state “cannot
change natural marriage.”
The Chicago bishops also underscored the complementary nature of the
sexes and the way marriage creates “not only a place of love for two
adults but also a home for loving and raising their children.”
Countering claims that the Catholic Church is “anti-gay,” the bishops
said that the Church “welcomes everyone” and gives them “the spiritual
means necessary to convert to God’s ways and maintain friendship with
They pointed to the Chicago archdiocese’s work through Courage
groups and its ministry AGLO.
“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,” the cardinal said.
The bishops also made a point of saying the Church condemns all
violence and hatred towards those with a homosexual orientation.
Looking at the “long term consequences” of redefining marriage, the
bishops said that the law will regard those who distinguish between a
“genuine marital union” and same-sex unions as “discriminatory” and “the
equivalent of bigots.”
“When the ways of nature and nature’s God conflict with civil law,
society is in danger. It is to that danger that we direct your
attention,” they stated.
Illinois’ recognition of non-marital unions has already had consequences for Catholics and others in the state.
In 2010 the Illinois legislature passed a law recognizing same-sex and
opposite-sex civil unions, which was sponsored by Rep. Harris.
the legislation claimed to protect religious freedom, state officials
used the law to end foster care and adoption placement service contracts
with Catholic Charities throughout the state because the agencies would
not place children with unmarried or homosexual couples.
The Catholic agencies had helped serve children for decades.
contracts totaled over $30 million annually and helped care for about
2,000 foster children.
State officials said the agencies’ policy of placing children only with married couples was discriminatory.
The Chicago bishops’ letter encouraged Illinois residents to visit the Illinois Catholic Conference website at www.ilcatholic.org to learn more about the effort to redefine marriage.