Every New Year’s Day, I brunch with the Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Support group from my Catholic parish on the Northside. This year, we were excited to talk about the news that our State Rep, Heather Steans (along with her colleagues), would introduce the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act as early as this week. But the conversation quickly turned to the letter that Cardinal George has issued to the Catholic churches statewide, to be published officially on the Feast of the Epiphany next Sunday (at the discretion of parish priests), calling for Catholics to oppose the bill*.
Ironically, the Cardinal has chosen this feast day, the day when Christ’s incarnation as a human being was made known to the world, as the day to ask that our human rights be denied.
In his letter, George departs from scripture and clings solely to marriage as defined by “natural law,” stating that, “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.”
It is time for Cardinal George to have an epiphany:
• Nature is full of examples of species that mate for life in same-sex unions.
• Marriage is more than the sex act.
• Sex acts are not dependent on penile/vaginal penetration.
• Marriage is also more than pro-creation.
• Children can enter a marriage outside of marital sex.
• All of this is true for straight couples as well.
Of course, this presents quite a paradox when the church doesn’t seem to have a problem in marrying infertile or elderly couples, and doesn’t deem celibacy outside of the “natural law.”
Furthermore, one need only look at the Holy Family itself to see that God works outside the constraints of what George calls “natural law,” as Jesus was not born of the pro-creative sex of a man and a woman. Joseph was married to a woman that he bore no children with. As Catholics who faithfully accept these mysteries, we cannot then reject that the Spirit of God is present in many different sorts of families and unions.
While polls show that Catholics support same-sex marriage more than any other denomination, there is still vocal opposition coming from a loud few. The Catholic Conference of Illinois is the lobbying arm of the Catholic Church which acts as an independent non-profit and has organized a campaign to contact lawmakers and voice opposition to same-sex marriage. Give them a call at their Chicago office and let them know that you are opposed to their tactics.
Fellow Catholics, I would urge you to walk out of Mass if this letter is read from the pulpit on Sunday. Just. Walk. Out. We can all learn a lesson from states like Minnesota and Maryland where the Catholic Church dumped massive amounts of cash into anti-gay legislative efforts (and failed) and take courage from Catholics like teen Lennon Cihak, who was denied Confirmation after voicing his support for Equal Marriage in a Facebook post that was later reported to his parish priest.
As hundreds of local religious leaders from around Illinois come forward to stand for marriage equality, it is time for Catholics to expect more from their hierarchy as well. Cardinal George, I will pray for your epiphany.
12pm-1pm / State of Illinois James R Thompson Center / 100 W Randolph
Illinois appears to be on the verge of legalizing marriage equality. Want to show your support and send a message to legislators that we need them to make this happen now? Join us downtown! This event is organized by a coalition of independent activists and LGBTQ rights groups including The Civil Rights Agenda and Join The Impact Chicago.
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Valency was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, but is a Chicago girl through and through. Ten years of Catholic school helped her develop a finely-tuned bullshit detector, as well as a love of all sorts of Catholic kitsch. Valency isn't fond of labels. She is, however, fond of embracing her many paradoxes, and walking the fine lines between religion and politics, with an eye turned toward postmodern religion, feminist theology, and challenging patriarchy from inside religious institutions. She lives on the northside with her two daughters and two female cats, and is always looking for more ways increase the estrogen in her household.