CHICAGO — As same-sex “marriage” becomes law in Illinois, the U.S. bishops’ head of marriage-defense issues has lamented the “disgraceful” misuse of Pope Francis’ words to justify the institution’s redefinition to accommodate same-sex couples.
“Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that we are to show love and respect to all people and to seek their greatest good, and he, therefore, continues to clearly promote and defend marriage and family, recognizing that this is in everyone’s best interest as members of a common society,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The archbishop noted that Pope Francis opposed the redefinition of marriage in Argentina as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where the future pope said, “The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother and children. … At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
The Pope has also encouraged Catholics to “propose to all people, with respect and courage, the beauty of marriage and the family illuminated by the Gospel.”
Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill to recognize same-sex unions as marriages on Nov. 20.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, had justified support for the bill by citing the Pope’s July comments on the flight from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro to Rome.
“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has goodwill, well, who am I to judge them?” the Pope had said, in response to a question about the “gay lobby” in the Vatican. The Pope had also said that lobbies “are not good.”
State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, said she voted for the bill “as a Catholic follower of Jesus and the Pope,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Archbishop Cordileone said that, in light of the Pope’s criticisms of same-sex unions, it is “disgraceful that some legislators would manipulate the words of Pope Francis to suggest that he would support marriage redefinition.”
The archbishop said this redefinition of marriage is “a serious injustice.” He said the law exists to protect “authentic rights, especially the right of children to have a married mother and father.”
The law could create more religious-freedom threats to business owners in the wedding industry, such as florists, photographers and wedding planners who could not in good conscience participate in ceremonies for same-sex unions. Lawsuits have targeted similar businesses in other states.
“The bill is called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. But this act is neither free nor fair for people of religious convictions,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society.
A group of legal scholars said that the Illinois bill’s vague and undefined terminology will require litigation to determine what religious liberties are protected.
Sixteen U.S. states have legally recognized same-sex “marriage,” particularly in the Northeast. State marriage laws were initially redefined by the courts, starting with Massachusetts in 2003, before several legislatures passed bills recognizing same-sex unions as marriages. Same-sex “marriage” ballot measures did not succeed on the state level until 2012.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, suggested that activists for redefining marriage have “run out of easy targets.” The activists targeted the “most liberal” states and “barely eked out some incredibly narrow victories,” he said in a statement to his organization’s supporters.
Amendments defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman exist in 30 states, Brown noted, saying that there is a “false narrative” that asserts that the redefinition of marriage is inevitable.
Archbishop Cordileone praised the “courageous efforts” of those who helped defend marriage in Illinois.
He said, “The defense of truth and goodness is never in vain.”