In a final effort to lobby the Illinois legislature to repeal their decision to legalize same-sex marriage, Cardinal Francis George and six Bishops have appealed to a lame-duck legislature by explaining that the government,
"…has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”
In a letter sent by George on 1 January 2013, the legislature was urged to vote against the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The bill should be introduced before the week is out, and a new legislature will debate it after 9 January 2013.
In a report filed by The Independent, leaders in the Catholic Church have noted that getting legislation passed in previous Illinois lame-duck sessions has been successful. One that stands out is the abolishing of capital punishment. Another, being the approval of same-sex civil unions.
The report reflects this effort by the Church to be a 'test of strength between the Catholic Church and gay marriage advocates,' and the church's attempt to deal with growing public acceptance of same-sex marriage and their own doctrines regarding homosexuality.
The Catholic Church has stated that their position is for the common good of society, and has reiterated this in the letter sent to the legislature. Part of that letter states,
"Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity.
"It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love. Does this mean nature is cruel or that God is unfair? No, but it does mean that marriage is what nature tells us it is and that the State cannot change natural marriage. Civil laws that establish “same-sex marriage” create a legal fiction. The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible."
In his column on 'Catholic New World' magazine, George touches on aspects of parenting, covers a time span of tens of thousands of years and suggests that other forms of family that do not include both a man and woman are suspect.
Cardinal George writes,
"Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no State of Illinois and no United States of America. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is less a threat to religion than it is an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.
"What is, then, at stake in this proposed legislation? What is certainly at stake is the natural relationship between parents and children. Children, even if they are loved and raised by those who are not their biological parents, want to know who their parents are, who are their natural family. The fascination with genealogical tables and the opening of adoption records are evidence of this desire to find oneself in a biological succession of generations. No honest “study” has disproved what we all know. Stable marriage between a husband and wife has safeguarded their children, surrounding them with familial love and creating the secure foundation for human flourishing. This natural desire, already weakened in a seemingly more and more promiscuous society, will no longer be privileged in civil law. It will be no more “normal” than any other “family” arrangement. If the nature of marriage is destroyed in civil law, the natural family goes with it."
The growing acceptance of homosexuality is not limited to non-clergy, though. A report filed by The Chicago Tribune revealed a letter sent to Illinois state legislators by over two hundred fifty clergy from the state that endorses marriage equality. As well, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Senator Dick Durbin have also endorsed the bill. Both men identify as Catholic.
Geoffrey Stone, a Professor of law at the University of Chicago, stated his argument regarding George's 'natural law' argument in the Huffington Post. Stone stated,
“The plain and simple fact is that reasoning about what is ‘natural’ is deeply vulnerable to distortion by one’s own personal values and preferences.
“Cardinal George insists that same-sex marriage is incompatible with ‘nature.’ One might just as easily say the same about celibacy. There is such a thing as right and wrong, but invocations of what ‘nature’ commands is no way to get there.”
The Independent report points out that similar attempts by other high-ranked and influential Catholics to stop marriage equality in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C., have failed.
Click here for a PDF copy of Cardinal George's letter to the Illinois legislators.