Chicago's Cardinal Francis George has made the headlines for some unconscionable comments he made on television.
Hours after he learned the organizers of Chicago's annual gay pride parade would delay the start of 2012's citywide pride march to avoid disrupting morning Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Cardinal still found the opportunity to take (and give) further offense.
'You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism,' he told visibly startled Fox News host Dane Placko.
Let's just reflect on the Cardinal's total inversion of reality for a moment. Essentially he told a group that fosters strength through diversity (in the face of widespread social exclusion) that they're the equivalent of a longstanding racist hate group that lynched people for the color of their skin.
Perhaps there's been a competition waging in right wing Catholicism to formulate the most toxic and insupportable anti-gay rhetoric? If there is, then Cardinal George is this month's winner.
Even Fox's Dane Placko was visibly appalled by the analogy, telling him it was a 'little strong'. But the Cardinal was resolute. And he hasn't apologized. In fact, he has since claimed it is 'an obvious comparison.'
The former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010, the Cardinal would be familiar with other holders of over-the-top opinions like Daniel Avila, who advised the Cardinal on Marriage and the Family (the capital letters are his own, of course).
Avila suggested recently the Devil can enter a mothers womb to make her child gay. No, he's not kidding: 'Whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God,' he wrote, in an article that was published and then pulled by The Boston Pilot, the nations oldest Catholic newspaper.
To be clear, the route of this years Chicago pride parade was selected to address safety concerns, including accessibility for emergency vehicles, for a march that attracts up to 800,000 spectators. The route was certainly not selected to antagonize the Cardinal, and it will not start until two hours after mass has been said in the Catholic Church, on Belmont Avenue in the city.
Cardinal George already knew this. Apparently he wasn't concerned with mending fences with Chicago's gay community. The church recently opposed a new law allowing civil unions for gay couples in Illinois, and they abandoned state foster care contracts because they refused to license gay couples as foster parents.
Now it's quite possible for a gay pride parade to march past a church without throttling anyone's religious beliefs. The fact is the parade has already been doing so for decades. Amping up the anti-gay rhetoric to operatic levels doesn't draw attention to the rightness of Cardinal George's bizarre claims - it rather highlights how far he has to go these days to take offense or dismiss their calls for equality.
It was unfortunate talk for the Christmas season, which we usually associate with good will to all. Haven't we all had enough of the Church's pretzel theology that says you must love gay people whilst condemning them, relentlessly, for who God made them to be?
Originally published 2012.
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