Chicago Cardinal Francis George has stepped in the ring on Chick-fil-A’s gay marriage controversy in a blog post, criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s statement that the fast food chain’s values “are not Chicago values.”
“Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the ‘values’ that must be held by citizens of Chicago,” George wrote on the Archdiocese of Chicago's blog Sunday. “I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?”
George went on to write: “Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry. … Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.”
Last week, Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st, announced he will block Chick-fil-A's effort to build its second Chicago store in Logan Square because the chain's top executive has made clear his opposition to gay marriage.
Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said George stands by his blog post on what she called “religious freedom” and said this isn’t the first time the cardinal has sounded off on the issue of gay marriage.
“He’s given many talks and has a lot to say on the freedom of religion and the freedom to be Catholic,” Dolan said. “He doesn’t say things frivolously.”
Of the two and a half years the archdiocese has maintained a blog, Dolan said this post has gotten “by far the largest response we’ve seen – most of it overwhelmingly positive.”
An Emanuel spokeswoman on Wednesday declined to comment on George’s remarks.
Moreno, who touched off the debate last week, fired back at George.
“It’s unfortunate that the cardinal, as often happens, picks parts of the Bible and not other parts,” said Moreno, who added that he was raised Catholic in western Illinois, attended a Catholic grade school and was an altar boy. Moreno said he now occasionally attends church.
“The Bible says many things,” Moreno said. “For the cardinal to say that Jesus believes in this, and therefore we all must believe in this, I think is just disingenuous and irresponsible. The God I believe in is one about equal rights, and to not give equal rights to those that want to marry, is in my opinion un-Christian.”
Moreno also called the cardinal’s reference in the blog to a fictional Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities “hyperbole and rhetoric.”
Moreno noted the church scandal surrounding pedophilia among priests, questioning George’s right to the “moral high ground on equal rights.”
Moreno, who has called gay marriage the civil rights issue of our time, also said the mayor and he are not trying to force their values on anyone, but rather to ensure equal rights.
Tribune reporters Hal Dardick and Kristen Mack contributed.