Cardinal George's Apology

Cardinal Francis George apologized today for the remarks he made comparing the LGBT rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.    A statement on the front page of the Archdiocese of Chicago website reads:

Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
January 6, 2012

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.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

The significance of this action is immense.  For the first time that I can remember, a prelate has acknowledged that words and ideas he has used in regard to the LGBT community were harmful, and he has apologized for the hurt they caused.

Significant, too, is the fact that he acknowledges that he has family members who are gay/lesbian, and that he loves them.  It is rare that a prelate speaks personally, let alone personally and positively about LGBT people.

I hope that one lesson he has learned is that the level of the hierarchy’s rhetoric is way too high, and that there is a need for reconciliation, understanding, and healing.   The apology is a good first step, but more steps need to be taken to heal the great chasm that exists between the hierarchy and LGBT people, especially LGBT Catholics.

The cardinal also needs to learn that LGBT people are not out to endanger religious liberty.  If he would enter into dialogue with LGBT Catholics, he would learn that more clearly.  Dialogue leads to better understanding and better relationships.

One thing that he can do, which we have already suggested, is to greet parade-goers in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on the day of the parade, and pass out water to them.

Let’s hope and pray that this ugly incident has truly opened his heart and that it will be the beginning of a new way of thinking  and acting for him.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

15 replies
  1. Susan Hillis
    Susan Hillis says:

    As a struggeling Catholic with a gay son, I am searching for a comfortable place to seek information. There are websites that tear apart Catholicism with vengence. There are many things that I don’t understand about my church’s leadership especially in regard to my gay son but my church has served me and my family well in matters of faith. In that regard, I am pleased that you were as quick to inform us of Cardinal George’s apology, as you were to inform us of his statement.

    • memphisdeb
      memphisdeb says:

      I too was glad to see the apology, and the explanation from New Ways putting it into perspective. As a mother of a gay son, and a board member of Fortunate Families (a member of the Equally Blessed Coalition, along with NWM) I have been concerned that the rhetoric around DOMA is causing harm to our kids, and those who are younger and just coming out. Fortunate Families, a group of Catholic parents of lgbt kids, reach out to the hierarchy often, to remind them that these words hurt. We believe that sharing our stories and those of our kids is often the only way to put a human face on these issues for those who might be isolated from the pain inflicted. And I agree with you, there are many sites that seem to exist simply for that vengence, these frequent updates from NWM are a great way to get information about what is going on in other areas… in Our Church!.

      Deb Word,
      BOD, Fortunate Families

  2. Chaplain Bill
    Chaplain Bill says:

    I agree. The significance of this statement is encouraging and in no small part because of the widespread negative public reaction to his original statement including an Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune. But what needs to take place is a shift in the Church’s orientation vs action dualism. The destructive label of “intrinsically disordered” reaching back to Josef Cardinal Ratzinser’s October 1986 position statement needs radical reexamination.

    Given that the fulcrum of power is decidedly in Rome, I don’t see the UCCB stepping up to this issue since it couldn’t exact a better revision of the Roman Missal 3. Look at what happened to the Australian bishop who last spring intimated a dialogue regarding women clergy; the move will need to come from Rome.

    Nevertheless, this statement is a message to fellow U.S. Bishop that such outrageous statement will not go unnoticed and unchallenged. Let us see where this leads.

  3. wild hair
    wild hair says:

    I appreciate Cardinal George’s heartfelt apology. It is significant as you suggest because usually the words from the hierarchy to the GLBT community are insensitive, harsh, and condemnatory.

    The cardinal suggests that his remarks were made in light of a fear that the catholic church is losing its liberty. Specifically he made those remarks because of crowds of people assembled for the Pride Parade in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Belmont Avenue might be an inconvenience to Mass goers on Pride Sunday. Yes, Mount Carmel Church is in the heart of the gay community in Chicago. Your suggestion that he pass out water and greet parade participants is an excellent one.

    Mount Carmel Church is only one of hundreds of businesses and public places along the parade route. I have marched in that parade and have attended it numerous times. I have also attended services at Mount Carmel Church. My impression is that the many businesses, at least, welcome the crowds and make provisions for the thousands of people who come into the neighborhood that one day of the year.

    It does not seem like the catholic church is any danger of losing its liberty. It does seem like the church is in more danger of losing its sense of welcome and hospitality.

  4. Casey Lopata
    Casey Lopata says:

    Of significance to me, in addition to the direct apology itself, is Cardinal George’s question: “Does respect mean that we have to change our teaching? That’s an ongoing discussion, of course. …” I’d like to know who are the bishops involved in this “ongoing discussion” and who are they discussing this with. This discussion doesn’t seem to be with open LGBT people or their family members.

    • newwaysministryblog
      newwaysministryblog says:

      I agree with you, Casey, that this statement is significant. It was not included in the original apology, but in a later interview that appeared today, so it was not included in yesterday’s original blog post. We commented on it in another blog post on the apology earlier this morning. It can be viewed here: . Your question about what he refers to and who might be included in “ongoing discussion” is an excellent one. If he was not referring to theological discussion in general, I hope he soon clarifies what he meant by it.

      –Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

  5. Peggy Thompson
    Peggy Thompson says:

    My thanks to NWM and to all who joined in bringing pressure on Cardinal George, which I believe encouraged this response from him. As a straight ally, I was horrified by his original statement, and am glad to see that his awareness has been raised. I pray for him, and particularly for the lgbtq members of his family, whom he acknowledges today. And I’m grateful to NWM for its ongoing ministry and efforts to educate and inform us all.

  6. colleenteresa
    colleenteresa says:

    There is a quiet “discussion” going on between Rome and the American Bishops. Oversimplified, Rome doesn’t want to change anything and resents the Americans pushing. Rome punished America by the absurd liturgical language changes. But the American bishops know that we have to change to grow more fully into God’s love. LGBTQ people around the world are watching because we and our allies know that Jesus doesn’t ever limit his love despite the rampant homo- and transphobia of recalcitrant Curia curmudgeons. The Spirit is moving us all and we must move each other forward in love to the full embrace of everyone in compliance with that loving Spirit.

    • wild hair
      wild hair says:

      Has anyone thought to inform Archbishop Nienstedt that there is an “ongoing discussion” about same sex relationships in the Catholic Church? The archbishop might want to reconsider his recent gag order on the priests and deacons in the archdiocese from speaking in opposition to his position concerning the upcoming vote to amend the Minnesota State Constittuion defining marriage as between one woman and one man. Is the archbishop afraid of the discussion?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] “As you yourself said in your note to me, my perspective on the path taken is different from yours.” That is an understatement! Cardinal George was an outspoken opponent of marriage equality; he called same-sex marriage “something that nature itself tells us is impossible”; and he protested LGBT Pride parades near places of worship, claiming gays abuse the freedom of speech like the Ku-Klux-Klan  (he later apologized). […]

  2. […] “Some dioceses have issued guidelines that prohibit children of same-sex partners from attending Catholic schools. Effective Catholic schoolteachers who are gay have been fired. Communion has been denied. Bishops have threatened to pull support for immigration reform if same-sex couples are recognized as families. And one prominent American Cardinal even compared LGBT activists to Ku Klux Klan members.” […]

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  4. […] in December when he compared the LGBT rights movement to the KKK.  Over two weeks later, he apologized for the […]

  5. […] a Catholic organization working for gay and lesbian equality within the Catholic Church, sent us an update with an apology by the […]

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