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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 30, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 52
Catholic cardinal doubles down on anti-Gay stand
Repeats KKK remarks, cancels charity contracts
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Catholic cardinal doubles down on anti-Gay stand
Repeats KKK remarks, cancels charity contracts

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, is not retreating from his comparison of Chicago's Pride Parade to the Ku Klux Klan.

In a statement to reporters on December 27, George said that '[Pride] organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan.'

The Catholic hierarchy in Illinois has gone well beyond a mere war of words, however,

Illinois' Roman Catholic bishops have shut down most Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new law that requires them to consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money.

The Illinois bishops followed their colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

Illinois Catholic Charities had sued the state to prevent the law from applying to them, but their attorneys dropped the suit on November 14 after losing preliminary rulings.

'The actions of the State have prevented the charities from being able to obtain relief from the Illinois court system,' they said.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, himself a Catholic, reportedly met with George and 12 other Catholic bishops to explain his pro-Gay, pro-choice policies.

According to a report on the LezGetReal blog, sources connected with the Rainbow Sash Movement - an organization of LGBT Catholics - characterized the meeting as 'full of tension.'

'Cardinal George calmly told the governor that it was his hope that the governor would no longer speak out as a public Catholic unless he is in agreement with the bishops on controversial issues,' the sources reported.

'The governor sat quietly and respectfully listened to the cardinal, but then told the cardinal that he was the governor of all the people of Illinois, and that he will speak out for all the people of Illinois and not just the Catholic position when it comes to the issues of abortion, civil unions, and Gay adoption.'

Cardinal George first compared Chicago's Pride Parade to the Klan in a Fox News interview aired before Christmas.

Pride organizers had complied with a request from the city government to move the start time of the parade from noon to 10:00 a.m. The priest in charge of Our Lady of Carmel church, on the parade route, complained that the new start time would interfere with his morning Mass.

Cardinal George got into the act, telling Fox, 'You don't want the Gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.'

Pride organizers said they would move the parade start time back to noon, and the controversy seemed to be dying down when George made his latest remarks.

The controversy surrounding Illinois Catholic Charities goes back more than a year. In November 2010, the Illinois legislature passed a same-sex civil union bill that included the right for Gay and Lesbian couples to adopt and foster children.

The law went into effect in June 2011.

The civil union law was opposed by the Catholic Church, which threatened that Catholic Charities would drop their adoption and foster care services rather than place children with same-sex couples.

Catholic Charities is one of the most extensive social service networks in the U.S., serving more than 10 million poor adults and children. It claims to be nondenominational.

Catholic Charities affiliates answer to their local bishops and dioceses, but most of their money comes from contracts with government agencies. Catholic Charities affiliates received some $2.9 billion a year from government sources in 2010.

This amounts to about 62% of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion. Only 3% of Catholic Charities' revenue came from churches in individual dioceses.

In Illinois, Catholic Charities in five of the six state dioceses was entirely dependent on foster care contracts, receiving 60% to 92% of their revenues from the state, according to affidavits by the charities' directors.

Catholic Charities in George's Archdiocese of Chicago pulled out of foster care services in 2007 because of problems with its insurance provider.

When the contracts came up for renewal in June, the Illinois attorney general, along with the legal staff in the governor's office and the Department of Children and Family Services, decided that the religious providers on state contracts would no longer be able to reject same-sex couples.

The Catholic providers offered to refer same-sex couples to other agencies, as they had been doing for unmarried couples, but that was not acceptable to the state,

'Separate but equal was not a sufficient solution on other civil rights issues in the past either,' Department of Children and family Services spokesperson Kendall Marlowe said.

Courts at both the circuit and appellate level upheld the state's right to require equal treatment of same-sex couples.

Catholic bishops in Peoria and Springfield said bitterly that the state of Illinois was 'basically at war with the Catholic community and seem to be destroying their institutions.'

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