It is with great sadness that I read about Cardinal George's message at the AGLO mass [Windy City Times, Feb. 11, 2004]. AGLO's leadership and members stated, 'as a cardinal of the church, he upholds the strict teaching —that's his job … it was a positive experience … he puts himself on the line with others. Bishops are teachers, he has to follow the teachings of the church. I heard some compassion in that.'
However, the cardinal did no such thing. The cardinal defied current church teaching!
The cardinal stated: 'the church in Illinois has reiterated that sexual orientation should not become a civil right. In itself, sexual orientation is not directly comparable to race and religion. In its effects, that legal categorization would change the church's relationship to civil law and to society itself.'
If a bishop is to only reiterate church teaching, then Cardinal George at the very least misspoke and at the worst went out on his own to be even more punitive than current church teaching. According to the above, Cardinal George is saying that even celibate homosexuals deserve no civil protection under the law.
Yet the Bishops of the United States in their letter, Always Our Children, issued in 1997 state that: 'Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teaching of the Church makes it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any form of injustice, oppression, or violence against them (cf. The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986, n.10). Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors. We reiterate here what we said in an earlier statement: We call on all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment (Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, 1991, p.55).'
It is quite clear that the U.S. Catholic Conference and current church teaching does not support discrimination against homosexuals. It is my understanding that AGLO prides itself on working within the church for change. Yet, here we have AGLO members defending blatant and false teachings by someone who has hired (with church money) a lobbyist to fight against their very civil rights to a job and a place to live.
Anyone, who would celebrate and defend this false teaching and the man who promulgates it, is either incredibly naïve, or self-loathing, or a betrayer of who they are as a person and a betrayer of their community.
Jim Bussen, Chicago