SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Catholic Conference of Illinois disapproved of the state Senate’s passage of a bill that would redefine marriage to include the union of same-sex persons, citing religious-liberty concerns.
“This legislation callously redefines a bedrock institution of our society and deteriorates the free exercise of religion in our state,” Catholic Conference of Illinois executive director Robert Gilligan said Feb. 14.
“We remain wary of government interference in the Church’s ministry and structure.”
On Feb. 14, the Illinois Senate approved a bill that would change the state’s definition of marriage from being “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons.” It was passed 34-21, and it now faces a vote in the state House.
Gilligan said the bill ignores the natural order of marriage, the complementarity of the sexes that is a foundation for families.
“Marriage joins a man and a woman in love to meet one another’s needs, to procreate and to raise children. This is the lifeblood of any human society,” Gilligan wrote. “This legislation tears at that definition with unknown consequences.”
The Catholic Church teaches that authentic marriage involves only one man and one woman. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution, despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes” (1603).
In an address in June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “The different present forms of the dissolution of marriage, as well as free unions and ‘trial marriage,’ including the pseudo-marriage between persons of the same sex, are … contrary expressions of an anarchic freedom that appears erroneously as man’s authentic liberation.”
The Church in Illinois is concerned about religious liberty under the bill. The conscience protections in the bill are limited for institutions and non-existent for persons.
Although the legislation says it would not force any religious denomination or minister to “solemnize any marriage,” Gilligan warned of “promises” made “two years ago when civil unions were passed, and now Catholic Charities has been kicked out of its mission of serving children in foster care.”
Even though the Church received assurances its social services would not be affected, within six months of the passage of civil unions in the state, Catholic Charities adoption services was barred from working with the state.
While Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has already pledged to sign the bill should it arrive on his desk, its fate in the House is unsure. Even though it too is controlled by Democrats who support the bill, it is expected to face tougher opposition in that chamber.
Some Democratic African-American representatives may oppose the bill because of its criticism by black Christian pastors.
The same day as the state Senate vote, Democratic legislators in both chambers introduced measures that would amend Illinois’ Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
William Haine, a pro-life Democratic senator who is Catholic, said the same-sex "marriage" bill is being pushed through “on the basis of emotion” and fails to protect churches from discrimination for their views.