Chicago Archbishop Denounced, Urged to Step Down

Cardinal Francis George, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, is receiving intense criticism and calls for his resignation after comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

The incident came after organizers of the Chicago gay pride parade moved next year’s start time up from the traditional noon to 10 a.m., meaning it would go past one of the city’s oldest Catholic churches when worshipers were attending Mass; the parade is always held the last Sunday in June. There had been problems at the 2011 parade because of overcrowding along the route, and organizers thought an earlier start would be a way to address it, but leaders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church objected, saying they feared parishioners would be inconvenienced.

George discussed the controversy this week with a local television station, which Wednesday broadcast a clip of him saying, “You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.” Parade organizers agreed to move the start time back to noon, but outrage over George’s comment lingers.

“Cardinal George has gone too far, and he should graciously apologize, and step down from his post,” wrote Tracy Baim, editor of Chicago LGBT newspaper Windy City Times, in an editorial posted online Friday. She called the KKK comparison “vile,” and she noted that the hate group demonstrated against the pride parade in its early years.

The national LGBT group Truth Wins Out is circulating an online petition calling for George’s resignation and describing his statement as “backward and bigoted.” The pro-gay Catholic group Equally Blessed issued a statement saying, “In expressing fears that a joyful, celebratory gay pride parade could erupt into anti-Catholic violence, Cardinal Francis George has demeaned and demonized LGBT people in a manner unworthy of his office,” and Sharon Groves of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program said his “horrific comparison of the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan drives an unnecessary wedge between Catholics and the hierarchy.” Find more reactions here.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said critics of the cardinal should watch his interview, which will air in its entirety Christmas Day on Chicago’s Fox affiliate. “Whether it was the best choice of analogy I don’t know,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “Taken out of context the meaning can be misinterpreted. I would suggest people read the whole interview.”

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2 Replies to “Chicago Archbishop Denounced, Urged to Step Down”

  1. I sent the following letter to Cardinal George today:

    December 27, 2011

    Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

    Your Eminence:

    This great octave of Christmas brings to mind the many wonderful wishes I have for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, including you. The purpose of my letter is to respond to two recent comments you made on television:

    “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.”

    “The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan; the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people– who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church.”

    I was saddened to hear these comments come from a Roman Catholic prelate. As a bishop, a parish pastor, and a gay American, I am deeply offended by your insensitive, incorrect, and uncharitable remarks. In your pastoral letter, Dwell In My Love, you rightly condemn the sin of racism. In your recent interview on television, you seem to have committed what many, including thousands of people who are faithful members of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, perceive to be an equally reprehensible sin: bigotry.

    To compare the LGBT fight for equal protection under the law with the actions and rhetoric of members of the Ku Klux Klan is not only wrong in every respect but deeply mean-spirited. As you know, the KKK’s modus operandi is to insight hatred of ethnic and cultural minorities through fear, intimidation, and violence. Those who champion the causes of LGBT individuals do so peacefully and legally. The only instances of violent demonstrations in the history of “gay liberation movement”, as you call it, were caused by government interference of peaceful protests.

    You may know that the majority of LGBT people who live in Cook and Lake Counties self-identify as Roman Catholics. To say that these people, your people, are your enemies is an attack on them and an affront to their faithful and faith-filled service to the Church and witness of the Gospel. Furthermore, to imply that a scheduling conflict, which was caused out of a concern for the safety of the general public and was amicably resolved by the Gay Pride Parade organizers “giving in” to the demands of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, is an attack on the “Catholic Church” is completely illogical and unacceptable.

    There are many regularly scheduled events drawing large crowds and blocking building entrances, including houses of worship from all religious traditions, throughout Cook and Lake Counties every year (e.g. marathons, bike races, neighborhood festivals, etc.). Almost all of these organizations happily adjust their schedules for these infrequent events as a sign of support for the communities they serve. Shouldn’t Our Lady of Mount Carmel be held to the same standard? I find it very strange that the approximately 3000-6000 families who attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel were not expected to visit another of your approximately 370 churches but the 800,000 people who attend this once a year event should be expected to rearrange their schedules to accommodate services that, for the most part, see the church building filled to only half its capacity at any given Mass.

    Your Eminence, we met when I was a student at Saint Joseph Seminary at Loyola University. Since that time I have always had a deep respect for you and the office you hold. I don’t suppose you will care about my opinion since I am no longer a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and I am relatively certain that you will neither read nor respond to this letter. However, I am compelled to write today as a faithful Catholic-Christian (though you may disagree with that), and a fellow worker in the Lord’s vineyard (you may disagree with that as well), to give you these words of warning: if you and the rest of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church do not become more pastorally sensitive to the needs of your people, you will lose them.

    My fervent prayer, Your Eminence, is that all Christians will become one family united in faith. I know you pray for that as well. Perhaps we can build on that “common ground” in the future. I have prayed for you daily since my days at St. Joseph and will continue to do so. Please pray for me as well. May you, and those God has given you to love, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Most Rev. Bryan T. Marabanian
    Presiding Bishop
    The American Apostolic Church

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