Tag Archives: Cardinal Francis George

Joy of Man’s Desiring

By now everyone is familiar with the Roman Pope’s attempts to change the direction of Catholic moral outrage from people’s underpants to more global problems, such as poverty, war, and the like.  They’re still going to care, mind you, about abortion and gay marriage, they’re just not supposed to talk about that to the exclusion of every other notion.

Chicago’s local pontiff, Cardinal Francis George, has not gotten the memo.  Several days ago, he issued an order defunding several immigration rights organizations that supported gay marriage.  Some background (from the Chicago Tribune):

When a statewide immigrant-rights coalition endorsed same-sex marriage this past spring, 11 groups were given a stark choice by a Roman Catholic anti-poverty program: Leave the coalition, or lose their Catholic funding.

Eight of the groups decided to stick with the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights. Another group broke with both. All told, the nine groups gave up grants totaling nearly $300,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. This week, some began scaling back projects that address domestic violence, affordable housing and immigration rights.

In what can only be described as an hilariously puzzling choice of words, the Cardinal argued:

“Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid,” George said in a letter defending the Campaign’s decision not to fund members of the coalition. “He knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.”

This suggests that Jesus merely knows the difference between right and wrong–He doesn’t have any special access (Euthyphro problem solved) or relationship to the answer. Second, and more importantly, though He is merciful, he won’t be duped into anything gay on that account.  No pity gayness for him.

Holy War


Cardinal Francis George

Recently the current Pontiff made some startling remarks about the Catholic Church Leadership’s intense focus on abortion, homosexuality, and contraception.  Here is what he said (in context):

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent.The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

This struck many as a breath of fresh air.  Others, not so much.  Chicago’s Cardinal Archbishop, Francis George, objected:

But George, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, warned that some had gone too far in seeing Pope Francis’ interview as a move away from long-held church teachings on homosexuality, abortion and contraception.

“Everybody is welcome,” George said, “but not everything we do can be acceptable. Not everything I do, and not everything anybody else does.”

Pope Francis said in the interview that the church “cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

When asked Sunday whether Catholics had become obsessed with the moral issues the pope named, George said the church was addressing society’s concerns.

“If the society is obsessed with those issues,” George said, “then the church will respond. If the society doesn’t bring them up, the church won’t respond.”

To be clear, the Pope actually didn’t say that “everything we do is acceptable.”  He said rather that not all of the Church’s moral positions deserve equal emphasis.  According to the Pope, abortion, gay marriage, and contraception don’t merit the kind of “obsessive” focus people such as George devote to it.

The Pope’s point is a fairly reasonable one, I think.  Time and space limit our ability to address every moral issue.  We have to make some choices.  We can choose well or choose badly.  The Church, in the PM’s* view, has chosen poorly, and Cardinal George’s response explains why: he’s not obsessed with gay marriage, you are.  Why do you keep bringing up gay marriage?

*Pontifex Maximus (how come we don’t have an acronym for the Pope like we do for the FLOTUS?)

You cannot go against nature

Fig. 1. Natural

Cardinal George sadly continues to embarrass himself on the subject of gay marriage.  He has issued a letter which some unfortunate Catholics will find in their Sunday bulletins.  From the Tribune.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George officially entered the political fray today, issuing a letter that urges parishioners to contact state legislators and voice opposition to gay marriage.

“Civil laws that establish ‘same sex marriage’ create a legal fiction,” George wrote in a letter sent to priests today. “The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

Someone wiser than me once said that “you cannot go against nature, because when you do, it’s part of nature too:”  See Figure 1.

There’s a fellow somewhere up on I-94 in Wisconsin whose home boasts a sign: Study Natural Law.  I think the Cardinal might have studied with him.

Also, Happy New Year.

Chilean women to marry

There’s the possibility that gay marriage might be legal in Illinois.  This means we are subject to arguments such as the ones discussed in this article.  Here’s a snippet of the argument:

Marriage comes to us from nature,” Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George said in a recent interview. “That’s based on the complementarity of the two sexes in such a way that the love of a man and a woman joined in a marital union is open to life, and that’s how families are created and society goes along. … It’s not in our doctrine. It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of reason and understanding the way nature operates.”

Actually, it’s not “a matter of reason” but rather an empirical claim, a false one it turns out, about how marriage operates in nature.  Animals, it so turns out, don’t ever get married.  Some are not monogamous in their unions, some even gay.

Here’s a screenshot to the same article which expresses the Cardinal’s attitude toward having a serious discussion:

UntitledAnyway, let’s hope this is over soon.  The Illinois version has not made these natural law arguments any more cogent.

Bishop Godwin

The Pontifical North American College, or whoever is responsible for instructing America's Catholic Priestly class, must offer a course in Godwinism: everyone with whom you have even a minor disagreement is a Nazi.  This is a move repugnant even to the most stoned college freshman who's just been busted for pot smoking.  For him, at least, the phrase "floor fascist" has some modicum of irony.  

Not so, sadly, for the venerable leaders of the Catholic Church in Chicago.  When a persecuted minority wanted to walk by a Church on the public way, they were the KKK.  Now, it turns out, the requirement that non Catholics have access to birth control in health plans offered by Catholics and Catholic Institutions (save actual Churches and similar organizations), has one Bishop screaming both Stalin and Hitler (from the Chicago Tribune):

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care,” Jenky said. “In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.”

To me this sends a terrible lesson to the Catholic faithful.  It is not the case that every disagreement with widely neglected Catholic teachings is equivalent to (what they imagine to be) some kind of Nazi or Stalinist assault on their right to practice their faith.

This means, of course, that we can't have rational disagreements about such issues, as everyone knows that the only response to Hitler was war.

And war, as the good Bishops ought to know, is a last resort.  And even it has rules. 


Identity Theft

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is not the master of analogies by any stretch. Recently, when a persecuted minority wanted to walk by one his churches on a Sunday, they were "Nazis."  Now, if someone requires that Health Insurers Provide a certain standard of care regardless of the religious affiliation of the insured employee, it's "identity theft."

Sadly, this remark seems to have followed upon the following (from the Chicago Tribune story):

"The difficulty of public discussion … is that the political is the highest level of public discourse," George said. "Therefore, the primary categories of discussion and mutual understanding are liberal and conservative. But they're not evangelical, Catholic or gospel categories. The categories that count in the Gospel are true and false. The bishops try to be people of God. And those are the first questions we ask is: 'Is it true or false?' Political terms are not adequate to discuss it."

The Cardinal recognizes the seriousness of his words, so this must mean he is just terrible at reasoning.  Let's say we change the terms somewhat, and insist that a Jehovah's Witness who runs a hospital or university must, through a private insurer, provide coverage for blood transfusions.  Yes, it's against their religion, alright.  For them.  But you just work for them.  You are the janitor in Kingdom Hall, or you're their accountant.  Unlucky you.  I guess. How dare you steal their identity by wanting blood transfusions during surgery.

But we're talking about contraception for women.  Not in the Tribune article, but in the local CBS story, was the Cardinal's very respectful and truth oriented threat: if some women can get the pill, the three percent of Catholics who actually care about this stuff will be forced to take their ball and go home.

“In order to do anything publicly, we’re going to have to cloak it in some kind of explicit religious circumstance that would not make it possible to run big universities and large hospitals as we’ve run them before,” George said.

The cardinal told members of the Union League Club downtown that the Church may otherwise sell its hospitals, pay penalties, or in a last resort, close them altogether, rather than offer birth control. George says offering birth control would be cooperating with evil.

The ad baculum, the appeal to force–that's what the Cardinal thinks the highest level of public discourse is.

Things that don’t go together, part CXL

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, caused ire and some headscratching when he expressed concern about the gay rights movement:

You know, you don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism. So I think if that’s what’s happening, and I don't know that it is, but I would respect the local pastor’s, you know, position on that.

The Cardinal's remarks were occasioned by the not unreasonable desire of the pastor of a church on the route of the Chicago Pride Parade.  The pastor worried that the parade of gay people would interfere with his church's staunch anti-gay stance, or that parishoners leaving Sunday mass would be tempted away to gayness.  Ok, in all seriousness, he said it would cause a traffic problem for the churchgoers.  Fair enough, and the two groups (the Pride Parade and Our Lady of Caramel) worked it out.

What has remained are the the Cardina's puzzling remarks about the gay-hating KKK, however.  In fact, the fallacy of the undistributed-middle endorsing Cardinal has reiterated his concerns that two groups that have nothing in common could make common cause of their hatred for the Catholic Church.  He remarked:

Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the cardinal said in a statement issued Tuesday. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.

Let's put this syllogistically:

  1. The Klan are Catholics-protestors
  2. Teh Gays are Catholics-protestors
  3. Therefore, the Klan are the Gays.

Well, obviously three doesn't follow on account of the fact there is no middle term between the KKK and the Pride Parade organizers in Chicago.  The simple fact of objecting to some aspect of Catholicism is obviously inadequate to draw a line between the two groups.  The KKK objected to Catholicism on ethnic grounds; gay activists (some of whom are actually catholic) object to the Church's using its influence to deny people rights. 

Besides, I should remark that it's a shame that the Cardinal endeavors to influence the state to hold back the recognition of obvious human rights to oppressed minorities, much in same the way the KKK sought to prohibit the lawful practice of Catholicism.  It's alarming that the Cardinal would invite comparisons to virulently anti-Catholic sentiments.