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Courageous Cardinal George Challenges Catholics Who Claim to Care for the Poor but Reject Marriage

By Deacon Keith Fournier
August 2nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In other words, when it comes to marriage and family life, men and women are not interchangeable. The whole civilized world knows that. Those who signed the open letter in the Tribune proclaimed their adherence to the Catholic faith even as they cynically called upon others to reject the Church's bishops. The Church is no one's private club; she is the Body of Christ, who tells us he is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

CHICAGO, ILL (Catholic Online) -  I have a pet peeve, to use an expression which my dear deceased mother used to use quite frequently. It is the haranguing of Catholic Bishops on cranky corners of the Catholic blogosphere and some Catholic media circles. I refer to it collectively as the Catholic circular firing squad. It impedes our mission, encourages sins against charity and fails to recognize our obligation in solidarity to one another. One of my antidotes to the malady is to call attention to the courageous Bishops standing firm in the ancient but ever new Catholic Christian faith.

These men are unafraid of engaging the collapsing culture in which we live with the liberating Good News of the Gospel. In my ecumenical work at the intersection of faith and culture, I am increasingly reminded by Christian friends in other faith communities of the impact of many of our Bishops upon them. I wish some cranky Catholic commentators could hear what I hear and stop their sniping.

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I, the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, is one of the great churchmen of our age. His courage has been demonstrated throughout his service to the Church and the world in which she carries forward in time the redemptive mission of the Lord. He is a holy man, in love with the Lord and well aware of the challenges we face in this new missionary age.

The Cardinal's mettle was demonstrated by his heroic struggle against cancer. Not a complaint, but a witness of prophetic hope in a culture of despair. He is a prophetic leader, unapologetically committed to proclaiming and defending truth in an age of relativism, militant secularism, nihilism and hostility toward the Church, her message and mission.

He has long been an uncompromising defender of the fundamental human right to life of our first neighbors in the first home of the womb. He is a friend of the poor and a man of mercy.  This brave man has also stood firm against one of the greatest assaults against truth in our time, the assault on marriage and the family and society founded upon it.

He knows the implications of the struggle - and the ferocity of the opposition. Cardinal George reminds me of heroic Bishops throughout our history. Thank God their numbers are increasing in this urgent moment. We need them. They should inspire us all to take our place in the mission of the whole Church, no matter what our state in life or vocation. We must defend marriage as what it is, ontologically, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.

Marriage is the preeminent social institution. It is a relationship defined by nature itself and revealed by the Natural Moral Law that binds all men and women. It finds its foundation in the order of creation. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they create a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. The institutions of government should, when acting properly, defend marriage against those who would redefine it.

Marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. They are God's idea and not our own. Marriage is the first vital cell of society and creates the first society wherein children are to be raised, develop and flourish. Children have a right to a mother and a father. To limit marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory now, nor has it ever been.

Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its very definition. To confer the benefits that have been conferred in the past only to stable married couples and families to homosexual paramours, whether by misguided legislation or ill founded judicial activism, is bad public policy and can never serve the common good.

This good Cardinal faces opposition from a fifth column of Catholics within his own Archdiocese. On Monday, July 29, 2013, eight Catholics, some of whom hold political and judicial office, published an open letter in the Chicago Sun Times accusing Cardinal George of not caring for the poor and immigrants and of using the poor and immigrants as pawns in his effort to defend marriage as between one man and one woman.

A group called the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) advocates for "same-sex marriage" in its political agenda. The Cardinal said that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) could not fund groups that support this goal. He was clear as to the reason, "Donors to the CCHD give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith."

These eight Catholics wrote an open letter to both Cardinal George and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development published in the newspaper. They began, "We write to you as loyal and proud Catholics to urge in the strongest possible terms that you rescind this threat. This action is not worthy of the church we know, love and respect." This kind of tactic is the worst form of propaganda. It is reminiscent of past fifth column actions throughout both secular and church history. 

The term fifth column refers to a group within a larger community which intentionally and covertly collaborates with an outside enemy so as to weaken that group from within and undermine its leadership and effectiveness. The expression originated with the Spanish Civil War but has been expanded to refer to a strategic use of covert activity and dissent within a State, or, as in this instance, within a Church.

I use the phrase fifth column in reference to people within our Church, fellow Catholics. These folks have rejected the teaching of the Church in an area of moral truth and, rather than honestly admit it and seek to change themselves so that they can properly inform their conscience and give a religious submission of intellect and will,(which is our obligation as faithful Catholics), they attempt to confuse the faithful. However, they go even further. They engage in covert operations intended to undermine the Church.

This is done in several ways. Sometimes it is through a kind of slow drip of dissent. Other times, through a concerted campaign which overtly opposes the Magisterium - the teaching office of the Catholic Church - though still containing its rebellion and opposition within the family of the Church. Still other times it goes beyond all propriety by overtly rejecting the clear teaching of the Church. Then, using a public forum, they intentionally try to hurt the Church and cause a scandal. It is to the last group that I now address this article.

The most egregious example concerns the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death. The truth taught by the Catholic Church concerning the fundamental human right to life and the dignity of every human person throughout the entire spectrum of life is the very ground of all Catholic Social Teaching. It cannot and will not ever be changed. It is written in the Natural Moral Law, confirmed by science and expounded upon in Revelation.

Yet, there is a fifth column of Catholics in open rebellion with this truth which opposes the fundamental Right to Life. They have strategically infiltrated the Church and use their identification and placement within to harm her. This group rejects this infallible teaching but seeks to draw others into their error. Finally, they have chosen to use the public forum to engage in a hostile campaign against the Catholic Church.

It is the same with the truth taught by the Catholic Church concerning the nature of marriage as between one man and one woman, for life, and open to children.That is what happened in Chicago. The sophistry of those who seek to reframe the debate by using terms such a "marriage equality" use the Orwellian newspeak of the Homosexual Equivalency movement. This is particularly egregious when it is engaged in by Catholics.

The Catholic Church cannot and will not ever change her position on marriage. She has no authority to do so. This open letter is an example of an overt operation against a a courageous Cardinal who is unafraid to contend in the public square for the truth about marriage and to defend against the wolves who seek to undermine marriage. Their open letter demanded such a courageous response. Here is his open response from the courageous Cardinal George:

AN OPEN RESPONSE TO AN OPEN LETTER JULY 29. 2013
Francis Cardinal George, OMI

On Monday, July 29, in the Chicago Tribune, a group of Catholics published an open letter addressed to me and to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). They accused the Church of turning her back on the poor. This accusation follows a decision by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to include support for "same-sex marriage" as part of their political agenda. The CCHD cannot fund groups that support this goal.

Donors to the CCHD give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith. Organizations that apply for funds do so agreeing to this condition. On May 23, the ICIRR board broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so called "same-sex marriage." For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted.

The CCHD had no choice but to respect the unilateral decision of the ICIRR board that effectively cut off funding from groups that remain affiliated with ICIRR. Without betraying its donors or the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church's long-standing work forimmigrant groups and for immigration reform remains intact. This record speaks for itself and is well known. It is carried locally by Priests for Justice for Immigrants and by Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, led by Elena Segura with my complete support.

It is intellectually and morally dishonest to use the witness of the Church's concern for the poor as an excuse to attack the Church's teaching on the nature of marriage. Four weeks ago, Pope Francis wrote: "marriage should be a stable union of man and woman,this union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God's own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life."

In other words, when it comes to marriage and family life, men and women are not interchangeable. The whole civilized world knows that. Those who signed the open letter in the Tribune proclaimed their adherence to the Catholic faith even as they cynically called upon others to reject the Church's bishops. The Church is no one's private club; she is the Body of Christ, who tells us he is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Because the signers of the letters are Catholic, they know that in a few years, like each of us, they will stand before this same Christ to give an account of their stewardship. Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid; he knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

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