Cardinal George’s Apology

January 6, 2012

Cardinal Francis George apologized today for the remarks he made comparing the LGBT rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.    A statement on the front page of the Archdiocese of Chicago website reads:

Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
January 6, 2012

During a recent TV interview, speaking about this year’s Gay Pride Parade, I used an analogy that is inflammatory.

I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan.  I do not believe that; it is obviously not true.  Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I.  We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are.  I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.

I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church’s liberty.  This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

The significance of this action is immense.  For the first time that I can remember, a prelate has acknowledged that words and ideas he has used in regard to the LGBT community were harmful, and he has apologized for the hurt they caused.

Significant, too, is the fact that he acknowledges that he has family members who are gay/lesbian, and that he loves them.  It is rare that a prelate speaks personally, let alone personally and positively about LGBT people.

I hope that one lesson he has learned is that the level of the hierarchy’s rhetoric is way too high, and that there is a need for reconciliation, understanding, and healing.   The apology is a good first step, but more steps need to be taken to heal the great chasm that exists between the hierarchy and LGBT people, especially LGBT Catholics.

The cardinal also needs to learn that LGBT people are not out to endanger religious liberty.  If he would enter into dialogue with LGBT Catholics, he would learn that more clearly.  Dialogue leads to better understanding and better relationships.

One thing that he can do, which we have already suggested, is to greet parade-goers in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on the day of the parade, and pass out water to them.

Let’s hope and pray that this ugly incident has truly opened his heart and that it will be the beginning of a new way of thinking  and acting for him.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


NEWS NOTES: January 6, 2012

January 6, 2012

Here are links to some items that may be of  interest:

1)  CNN’s “Belief Blog reports on the “Courage” story which we commented on yesterday:  “Controversial Catholic program for gays begins in Connecticut.”

2) On HuffingtonPost.com, Joseph Amodeo points out that there are better ministry alternatives than  “Courage” in “Redefining Courage:  What the New Apostolate for LGBT Catholics Gets Wrong.”

3) The Catholic governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, will be including a marriage equality bill and a transgender non-discrimination bill in his legislative package this year reports The Washington Blade in “Maryland to take up marriage, trans bills.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Silencing Discussion Is Not the Archbishop’s Only Error

January 6, 2012

The Progressive Catholic Voice has published a letter from Archbishop John Nienstedt which orders priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of St. Paul to be silent if they disagree with the hierarchy’s opposition to marriage equality.  In November of this year, Minnesotans will be voting in a referendum on whether they should adopt a constitutional amendment banning marriage between lesbian and gay couples.

Silencing discussion is a terrible option, and church officials should remove such a recourse from their possible responses to situations.  U.S. bishops should have learned a lesson from the sex abuse crisis that silence protects nobody and ultimately fails as a method to protect the church.  New Ways Ministry has  long called for more discussion and dialogue in the church on LGBT issues, including marriage equality.  We believe that through discussion and debate truth will be found and relationships strengthened.

Silencing his priests and deacons is what will be making headlines, but it is not the archbishop’s only error in this letter.  He also wrongfully speculates on the motivations of those who support marriage equality, and he does so in an illogical manner:

“The end game of those who oppose the marriage amendment that we support is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.”

First of all, he offers no evidence for such a claim, and it is difficult to imagine what such evidence might even be.  Such a claim is unfounded.  Why would the archbishop make such a claim if he is not willing to offer any evidence to support it?

More importantly, the claim is illogical.  Does he want us to believe that the people who are working and organizing to extend marriage rights to more people are actually really trying to end the institution that they are trying to extend?

Later in the letter, he states:

“. . . we must never vilify or caricaturize those who argue [in support of marriage equality]. . . “

Yet, isn’t that what he just did by speculating, with neither evidence nor logic, on the motives of those who oppose the constitutional ban?

One of the reasons that we need discussion, and not silence, on these issues is because without the free interchange of ideas, people become so solidified in their positions that they do not realize what they are saying sometimes, and they can often work against their own best ideals.

The folks at The Progressive Catholic Voice should be applauded for making this letter available to all.  You can read their full press release here and a shorter explanation introduces the archbishop’s speech here.  In noting why they decided to publish it, they offer an image and an ideal towards which we should tirelessly work:

“. . .we at The Progressive Catholic Voice believe it is important to model a way of being church that is open, honest, transparent and participatory.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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