The Windy City Media Group quoted his statement:
When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940′s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate. [my emphasis]
“It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm. These tragedies can be addressed, however, without disturbing the organized and orderly public worship of God in a country that claims to be free.”
While the Cardinal might say that he is simply comparing one act of parading with another, this statement suggests that he is making some unfortunate presumptions about the Pride Parade, claiming that the parade and its organizers were somehow seeking “to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church” by marching past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. In leaping to conclusions about how the parade will interfere with worshippers attending services, the Cardinal reveals a disturbing intolerance towards the parade and towards gay rights, masked by claims of the church’s religious freedom being stifled.
Cardinal George’s remarks are certainly regrettable. They are also indicative of the Catholic church’s lack of tolerance for gay rights, an attitude also seen in a recent decision by Illinois’ Roman Catholic bishops to shut down most of the state’s Catholic Charities affiliates, rather than comply with new state regulations under which, in order to receive state money, they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents. Bishops in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., have also chosen to shutter adoption services rather than follow nondiscrimination laws. As the New York Times says, the bishops are claiming that the rules are part of an “escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people.”
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer, went so far as to say that “‘In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated.’” But statements like Cardinal George’s comparing the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan rather suggest just how intolerant the Catholic church is of those whose views do not accord with its own. It is unfortunate that the church is hiding behind claims of its “religious freedom” being trampled upon while suppressing the freedom of expression of others.
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