Another Christmas has come, and Chicagoans reacted in different ways. This past week, the pro-gay lobbyist group ‘Equality Illinois’ got into the Christmas spirit by not only demanding an apology for Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago, but demanding his resignation as well. Yes, it seems Chicago’s most famous Catholic citizen, Cardinal George, is in the news again this week with yet another group “offended” by his comments.
The reason for the uproar and the media joining in the chorus of criticism was because of comments the Cardinal made about Chicago’s annual “Gay Pride” parade. Cardinal George was commenting on the likelihood that next year’s annual Gay Pride in Chicago, scheduled for Sunday morning, June 24, 2012, would parade right in front of one of the oldest churches in the city and at a time (10 a.m.) in which families are at Mass. Cardinal George thought a public display of gay sexuality in front of Catholic families attending Mass would be inappropriate, and said so. Objecting to the timing of the Gay Pride parade already made ‘Equality Illinois’ incensed at the Cardinal’s comments, but then he said the really “offensive” part that caused Equality Illinois to demand Cardinal George’s head on a silver platter. Speaking into the cameras, Cardinal George remarked: “Some of the events held by the gay movement, with their intolerance of the Catholic Church, come close to resembling those of the Ku Klux Klan, which were characterized by the same hatred towards Catholicism.”
Immediately, calls her made over Christmas weekend to demand the Cardinal’s profuse apology, and an online petition launched calling on Cardinal George to resign from his post. Chicago’s most well known “gay” paper, even wrote an edition stating “At this point, an apology is not enough” and that nothing short of Cardinal George “[stepping] down from his post”, would do, according to Windy City Times executive editor Tracy Baim
What surprised me is how quickly social conservatives mobilized to respond in defense of Cardinal George this time. Illinois’ most prominent online conservative publication, The Illinois Review, wrote an op-ed on Christmas Eve saying not only should Cardinal George stay in office, but that he has nothing to apologize for.
They wrote: “Apologizing to a rape victim for — in our opinion, rightfully — criticizing Personal PAC’s outrageous use of the woman’s trauma to get Governor Pat Quinn elected is one thing, but succumbing to Equality Illinois’ apology demand is something totally different. The social disturbance radical gay groups invoke against traditional Christian beliefs and demand upon groups such as the longstanding public service organization Catholic Charities are the real destructive forces in our midst. This year, foster children are facing new emotional trauma because gay activists demanded Catholic adoption agencies – against their core beliefs – open their process to same sex civil union couples. When will gay activists apologize for such travesty on innocent children? It is our hope that Cardinal George does what is right again in this case, and instead this time, turn a deaf ear.”; in an editorial entitled “Cardinal George should turn a deaf ear this time, not the other cheek”
Other bloggers and Catholic faithful wrote to express similar opinions throughout the diocese. “It is my opinion that we (MY CATHOLIC CHURCH) do more than turn a deaf ear to the liberally deranged demands of those promoting sodomy, but we also stop being cowardly, and we go on the attack against those promoting sodomy, and we also step up our promotion of Christian teaching and Christianity.”, wrote Chicago’s 11th Ward Republican committeeman Carl Segvich.
In the end, Cardinal George certainly has no plans to step down from his post (he recently announced that in spite of rumors, he intends to stay active in the Catholic Church and not retire his office when he reaches the age of 75). Nor did he issue a formal apology. However, Cardinal George did something a bit more baffling: he ‘clarified’ his remarks to “explain” that he was not bigoted and wasn’t comparing gay activists to KKK leaders. When asked by a reporter if his original statement was too strong, George replied“It is” The Cardinal then made a second appearance on TV and “clarified” his comments on ABC: “Obviously it is absurd to say that the gay community are like the KKK. My comparison was between the type of parade, it was not a reference to the people.”
Naturally, this “clarification” didn’t earn him any points with the gay groups calling for his resignation (The petitions still flood in: “A painful and degrading comparison: an apology will not suffice. The only way out for Fr. George, if he still has a shred of dignity, is to resign.”), and what’s worse, his original statement against the tactics of the “gay rights” organizations is preaching hate speech against Catholics was lost in the discussion. As others have noted, it would probably would have been best for Cardinal George to ignore this phony “controversy”, stick to his guns, and move on to another subject. There is no right way to answer a “have you beating your wife” line of questioning. By going with the original premise that his remarks could have been “hurtful”, he is only giving ammo to his critics and giving their side more air time.
Cardinal George is a man of many talents. One of them is articulating Catholic dogma and its role in American society, that’s why he served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010.Unfortunately, what Cardinal George is very good at articulating on paper does not come across well when he gives a one on one interview. There have been many times where Cardinal George has backed off from his earlier statements when someone questions them. In short, Cardinal George is a good judge of his flock but he is not a fighter for them. This latest incident made him appear weak and gave the public the idea that that his original comments were “mean spirited”. The fact Fr. Pfleger remains pastor at St. Sabina’s (even though he was supposed to present a “transition plan” at the end of this year), preaching genuine hatred and anti-Catholicism is another example where Cardinal George fails to stand up for himself and assert leadership. The secular and socially liberal media basically calls Cardinal George an insensitive bigot constantly and his responses amount to “Oops. Nevermind”
Cardinal George would better serve Chicagoans if he took a page out of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s book. Cardinal Burke is the former Archbishop of St. Louis and now the head of the Vatican’s highest court. Last month, he made waves with his statement that “It is a war” between Catholics and anti-Catholics, and that it is “critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law. Should they not, secularization will in fact predominate and it will destroy us.” Cardinal Burke believes that the United States is “well on the way” to the persecution of Christians. He stated boldly that there’s a good chance in the future that the U.S. Catholic Church is persecuted, “even by announcing her own teaching,” and accused of “engaging in illegal activity, for instance, in its teaching on human sexuality.” Asked if the cardinal could even see American Catholics being arrested for their faith he replied, “I can see it happening, yes.” Pope Benedict XVI warned the American Cardinals is there job to stand firm against attacks on the church, saying: “the seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated.”
I believe Cardinal Burke is right – Christians are already being persecuted in the U.S. if liberty of conscience is being denied. Illinois is a perfect example: Catholic Charities was forced to close because state law would force them to give children to gay couples, Illinois pharmacists who refuse to carry the “morning after” pill because they are morally opposed to it can be arrested and their pharmacies shut down. This is the environment that Chicago Catholics who believe in the church’s teachings on traditional families and the sanity of life find themselves in. The fact so many Americans now accept “gay marriage” and believe redefining the definition of a family after 5000 years is a “civil rights issue” is indicative of a culture in rapid decline, like the Roman empire during its twilight years. This isn’t about gays having the “right” to do what they want “in the bedroom”. This is about them insisting that the rest of society accept their lifestyle in public. People are being told what to think about these issues and that denies people liberty of conscience. Our society should remember that liberty of conscience was granted even in World War II, when the free world’s very life was at stake, threatened by a demonic enemy, yet it was granted. That is how great the respect for liberty of conscience used to be.
As for the Cardinal’s original remark, while I have many gay friends there is no denying that many of them despise and ridicule the Catholic Church as much as the KKK did. The KKK believed the Catholic Church was a wacky “papist cult” that should be completely purged from any type of impact on American society, and many gays feel the same way about Catholicism. One gay friend of mine recently ridiculed Christ’s Resurrection as a “zombie Jewish carpenter story” The KKK used its influence in Indiana state government to try and abolish Catholic schools, just as gay organizations now do to Catholic charity organizations. Gay Pride Parades are well known for mocking and demeaning Catholicism: In June 2009, a gay pride parade in Rome depicts crosses with sex items, ridicules the suffering Jesus by live imitations and carries anti-Catholic flags. One person dressed as the suffering Jesus tied to a rock. The office of the bishop was attacked by several participants wearing specific clergy clothes. Anti-Catholic flags saying “No Vat”, with a cross out St. Peter’s basilica were carried. In San Francisco, an Anti-Catholic Gay Organization called “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” dressed up as nuns is drag and mocks Catholic prayers and hymns. And so on and so forth. How is that not hate speech? In spite of what the media wants people to believe, the vast majority of Christians would never support a group like Westboro Baptist Church when they preach hate speech like “God Hates Fags”. Yet the reverse is not true… there are many gay pride marches that have no problem marching with vehemently hateful anti-Catholic material simple because the Catholic Church does not approve of their lifestyle.
The truth is these so-called “gay rights” groups are actually far more successful than the KKK was at intimidating society into changing public policy and creating privileges for one select class of people. The reason why is that very few people at the peak of the KKK’s power were both Catholic AND KKK. But today, there are large numbers of people who are both Catholic AND supportive of “Gay Rights”. In Illinois especially, there are many Catholic judges and politicians that are against Catholics teachings, and side against the Catholic church’s right to speak out for them. Freedom of speech should always be protected but you shouldn’t have to force other people to listen to it. On the plus side, the winner in the end is Chicago Catholics: the organizing committee has accepted the City’s requests to delay the start of the parade for 12 hours in order to allow parishioners to go to Sunday church service. On the other hand – as one article ominously pointed out: “At this point, however, it is easy to imagine what the favorite target of the upcoming June 24th parade will be.”