Quinn, Cardinal George sit down privately after public disputes

Cardinal Francis George, seen here in June, met with Gov. Pat Quinn today behind closed doors. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Tribune)

Gov. Pat Quinn met with Cardinal Francis George and other area Catholic leaders today to try to clear the air after some recent public disagreements.

Quinn, a practicing Catholic, met privately with George and bishops at the Union League Club in the Loop. With reporters waiting outside two of the doors to the club, the governor quickly ducked into a car at a third entrance without commenting after spending about two hours inside.

George spoke briefly to reporters after the sit-down, saying it was "a pastoral meeting, so we raised pastoral issues that aren't directly political, and in that sense it was a personal meeting that we agreed would remain a pastoral conversation."

George sent Quinn a letter last month requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss the governor's support of abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples.

Quinn revealed the correspondence shortly after presenting an award at the Personal PAC annual luncheon, which honors those who have worked to support the pro-choice group. George had previously attacked Quinn for his involvement in the gathering, but later apologized after learning Quinn was honoring Jennie Goodman, a rape victim turned advocate.

The cardinal said today's meeting took place at Quinn's invitation.

"I think we shared some concerns on both sides," George said. "It was a friendly and open meeting, but it was pastoral. So it was on faith and conscience, and the way in which the church engages in public life for the common good."