Cardinal George Reflects on ‘Chicago Values’

Chicago’s native-born Archbishop Francis Cardinal George has employed his Cardinal’s Network email-blast to make some blistering comments related to the notion of some that city government can determine what constitutes ‘Chicago Values’. He follows that up with a fine discussion on marriage, excerpt:

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?

It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle. . .

Read the whole thing. The last line is something to think about.

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  • Mara

    Cardinal George uses Catholic terminology to define marriage, something he said should be avoided. If you look up the history of marriage you’ll find that the marriage concept evolved from many different cultures in many different ways and for many different reasons, none of which had to do with religious concepts. Religions added their own versions much later. The roots of marriage are not found in religion and the definition of marriage must not be rooted in religion because belief in the teachings of any religion is simply a personal choice.

    • Arnold

      What you conveniently forgot to note and which was the central point of the cardinal’s comments is the fact that marriage all over the world and in many different cultures and civilizations always has meant the union or pairing of male and female. Period. He did not claim that marriage was a religious invention but is part of the natural law that has governed all of humanity whatever form they took.

      • Mara

        Actually Arnold, there were societies that included gay couples in their marriage concepts. You can google it if you wish to learn more.

  • Barbara

    Chicago has no values to reflect upon!!!

  • David

    Says the unelected “leader” to a small percentage of the population, that was appointed by the leader of a foreign country. If the object was to look out of touch and hypocritical, I’d say this statement was a complete success!

    • Arnold

      The archdiocese has 2,500,000 members in Cook and Lake counties. That comprises roughly 40% of the population. That is certainly not a “small” percentage of the population. The reference to the pope as a foreign leader smacks of the old nativist bigotry toward Catholics in the 19th century. Rob: He did not compare the gay community leaders to Nazis but was referring to the conflict regarding a hedonistic parade marching past a local Catholic church on a Sunday at Mass time. However artless his phrasing may have been, he did not call them Nazis.

      • David

        Right. He compared them to the KKK instead: “Well, I go with the pastor. I mean, he’s telling us that they won’t be able to have church services on Sunday, if that’s the case. 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.” then in his apology, the said ““When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the ORGANIZERS INVITED an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the statement continued. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940′s, 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.”

  • Rob

    With all due respect, I’m not sure if someone who compared Chicago’s gay community to the leaders of Nazi Germany is really someone who should be lecturing on the values of Chicago.

  • tlr

    Thank you,Your Eminence! We need more such public commentary from you and your brother bishops.


    Dear Jack – Yes, “Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.” However, society defines marriage and can change its nature. The Mormons with Utah statehood are just one example. -Pax tecum – Greg

    • David

      Let me get this straight: A City can’t refuse to issue a business license to a business that discriminates against their employees, but they should refuse to issue a marriage license to a couple because of their gender? Either the government has the right to regulate licenses, or they don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

      • naturgesetz

        Your comment is inane and irrelevant because don’t understand the original post (unless you’re just pretending to misunderstand it). It’s not about whether the state can issue licenses. It’s about the simple fact that it is as false to call a same-sex relationship a marriage as it is to call a man a woman. For the state to issue a marriage license to two men or two women is absurd. Sure, they can fill in the form and record it, but the two men or the two women are not in a relationship that is the same as that of a married man and woman. It is biologically impossible.

    • Jack Smith

      Greg – Certainly society chooses to define many things, often erroneously, i.e., “three-fifths” person and “choice”. That society’s definition of a thing can change its nature seems solipsistic – a thing has a particular nature or another and it hardly depends what you call it.

      Also, I’m confused on the Mormon reference. Didn’t the United States affirm the natural definition of marriage when it refused Utah entry as a state unless it abandoned its novel “definition” of the thing?

      • Patrick

        Jack, you’re overthinking the word “define”.

        Our laws used to say that a child was the natural born issue of its parents. Then it was changed to include persons legally adopted by said couple.

        Did the world end when that happened? No.

        • Jack Smith

          I certainly know the world didn’t end when children could be adopted. They’ve been adopted since the beginning of time.

    • Therese Z

      The nature of polygamous is NOT changed, in fact, proves the most basic point of marriage, no matter the imperfections of polygamy. It is still the union of man and woman. The women in a polygamous marriage do not sexually stimulate one another as a substitute for the marital act. The biological attraction and action remains the same, precisely.

      Polygamy weakens the support available for the children (and for the women back in the day when women were unable to own property or inherit) and creates strife where none is needed. It’s banned because of that, not because of any change in its sexual expression.



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