Matt C. Abbott
The cardinal's apology
By Matt C. Abbott
January 7, 2012

Let's say a bishop or priest gives an interview to a newspaper or television/radio station and says something that can be construed as inflammatory. He then has to issue a "clarification" followed a few days later by an apology.

That scenario has played out here in the Archdiocese of Chicago in recent days, starting with an interview Cardinal Francis George gave to a local television station in which he said, "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."

Needless to say, the homosexual activists and their sympathizers weren't too pleased with the cardinal's remarks. A "clarification" was issued on Dec. 27 and was posted on the archdiocese's website:
    'The Chicago Gay Pride Parade has been organized and attended for many years without interfering with the worship of God in a Catholic church. When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. 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. 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.

    'It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm. These tragedies can be addressed, however, without disturbing the organized and orderly public worship of God in a country that claims to be free. I am grateful that all parties concerned resolved this problem by moving the Parade's start time so as not to conflict with the celebration of Mass that Sunday.'
Well, that "clarification" still didn't go over well with the homosexual activists, and they planned to demonstrate this Sunday, Jan. 8, in front of Holy Name Cathedral. (Some of them still might do so; it remains to be seen.)

On Jan. 6, the cardinal issued the following apology, also posted on the archdiocese's website:
    '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.'
Now, from a Chicago Tribune story posted Jan. 6, there's this interesting item:
    'George said although church teaching does not judge same-sex relationships as morally acceptable, it does encourage the faithful to 'respect everyone.'

    ''The question is, 'Does respect mean that we have to change our teaching?' That's an ongoing discussion, of course. ... I still go back to the fact that these are people we know and love and are part of our families. That's the most important point right now.''
I'm a bit perplexed. What exactly does he mean by "an ongoing discussion"? I can't imagine the cardinal would ever suggest that natural and divine law can be changed, so why even say such a thing?

If he was misquoted, he may have to issue yet another "clarification." Heck, even if he wasn't misquoted, he may have to issue yet another "clarification."

Perhaps it would be best for the cardinal to cease doing television and radio interviews, and for newspaper interviews, insist on answering questions via fax or email. Enough of these "clarifications."

As for the cardinal's apology, Laurie Higgins, cultural analyst for the Illinois Family Institute, writes:
    'With all due respect to Cardinal Francis George, I think his apology is misguided and his reasoning troubling:

    'His primary justification or at least his public justification was that his analogy was hurtful. I wonder if he would publicly state that homosexual acts are 'abominable.' Surely, that would be 'hurtful' to those who identify as homosexual, and yet that's how Scripture characterizes them.

    'The notion that the presence of hurt feelings means that Cardinal George has done something wrong suggests that the ethical legitimacy of public speech is determined by the subjective response of hearers. But consistently applied, that principle would prohibit all expressions of moral propositions.

    'Although it's unpleasant to say something that results in hurt feelings and at times hurt feelings result from our sinful words, sometimes "hurt" or bad feelings result from an encounter with truth.

    'Anyone who bothered to read his original comments knows that he did not suggest that all homosexuals are 'like members of the Klan.' His comments were about 'some' homosexual activists. Moreover he expressed his 'hope' that the 'gay pride' parade would not 'morph' into something like the marches the KKK led against the Catholic Church.

    'I understand why non-Christians have lost sight of how profoundly wrong homosexual acts are, but when followers of Christ have so little spiritual discernment and so much theological ignorance, society is in deep trouble.

    'Homosexual activists as an organized public movement do not preach violence or engage in violence, but many express hatred. I have been on the receiving end of multiple hair-curling epithets and death wishes.

    'In addition, the effort to teach little children in our government schools, subsidized with public dollars, that this sin is good is an unconscionably evil act. Homosexuality is so serious a sin that it puts people at risk of eternal separation from a Holy God, and we're teaching children in school that it's morally equivalent to heterosexuality. Most of us are so desensitized or inured to the wickedness (if I may use this somewhat archaic term) of homosexual acts and so spiritually obtuse that the evil of teaching children that wrong is right doesn't even register on our moral barometer.

    'Moreover, homosexual activists seek to prohibit parents from opting their children out of such teaching. I can't think of a group that seeks such an egregious and arrogant usurpation of parental rights.

    'I agree that the analogy was inflammatory and that the point that homosexual activism is becoming increasingly hateful, aggressive, and tyrannical could have been made without it. Cardinal George could have said that some homosexual activists discriminate based on religion; that some activists hate people who hold orthodox theological beliefs on homosexuality; that some employ hateful and obscene rhetoric; that some march in the streets violating public decency laws and promoting evil ideas; that some seek to diminish other people's fundamental constitutionally protected liberties; and that some seek to use public schools to promulgate their philosophical, moral, and political beliefs about homosexuality. All of this may be hurtful to hear, but it is not unethical to say.

    'What I wish Cardinal George had said was that homosexual acts are soul-destroying acts that are 'detestable' in God's eyes and that the parade is a tragic, offensive event that shouldn't take place on any day in any neighborhood. It is not an act of love to affirm or appear to affirm that which God condemns.

    '(Cardinal George should not use the terms 'gay' and 'lesbian.' Those terms do not merely denote same-sex attraction and volitional acts. They connote biological determinism, immutability, and an inherent morality. What other groups would Cardinal George choose to identify by their disordered inclinations and freely chosen sinful acts? Rhetoric matters.)'
I agree with Laurie. Yes, I understand why Cardinal George issued the apology, but I also think it gives the impression that even the cardinal archbishop of Chicago fears the wrath of the homosexual lobby and its sympathizers in the media — and that's very disappointing.

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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