As same-sex “marriage” becomes law in Illinois, the U.S. bishops’ head of marriage defense issues has lamented the “disgraceful” misuse of Pope Francis’ words to justify the institution’s redefinition.
“Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that we are to show love and respect to all people and to seek their greatest good, and he therefore continues to clearly promote and defend marriage and family, recognizing that this is in everyone’s best interest as members of a common society,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said Nov. 20.
The archbishop noted that Pope Francis opposed the redefinition of marriage in Argentina as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, where the future Pope said, “The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children … At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
The Pope has also encouraged Catholics to “propose to all people, with respect and courage, the beauty of marriage and the family illuminated by the Gospel.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill to recognize same-sex unions as marriages on Nov. 20.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan had justified support for the bill by citing the Pope’s July comments on the flight from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro to Rome.
“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?” the Pope had said, in response to a question about the “gay lobby” in the Vatican. The Pope had also said that lobbies “are not good.”
Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora, said she voted for the bill “as a Catholic follower of Jesus and the Pope,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
Archbishop Cordileone said that in light of the Pope’s criticisms of same-sex unions, it is “disgraceful that some legislators would manipulate the words of Pope Francis to suggest that he would support marriage redefinition.”
The archbishop said this redefinition is “a serious injustice.” The law exists to protect “authentic rights, especially the right of children to have a married mother and father.”
The law could create more religious freedom threats to business owners in the wedding industry, such as florists, photographers and wedding planners, who cannot in good conscience participate in same-sex ceremonies. Lawsuits have targeted similar businesses in other states.
“The bill is called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. But this act is neither free nor fair for people of religious convictions,” Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, said Nov. 20.
A group of legal scholars said that the Illinois bill’s vague and undefined terminology will require litigation to determine what religious liberties are protected.
Sixteen states have legally recognized “gay marriage,” particularly in the northeast U.S.
Marriage law was initially redefined by the courts before several legislatures passed bills recognizing the unions. Same-sex “marriage” ballot measures did not succeed until 2012.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, suggested that activists for redefining marriage have “run out of easy targets.”
The activists targeted the “most liberal” states and “barley eked out some incredibly narrow victories,” he said Nov. 20 in a statement to his organization’s supporters.
Amendments defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman exist in 30 states, he noted, saying that there is a “false narrative” which asserts that the redefinition of marriage is inevitable.
Archbishop Cordileone praised the “courageous efforts” of those who helped defend marriage in Illinois.
“The defense of truth and goodness is never in vain,” he said.