Chicago Cardinal Speaks out on Chick-fil-A, Boston Cardinal Maintains Silence

Cardinal George of Chicago has “slammed Chicago mayor’s comments on Chick-fil-A marriage flap” in a July 29 blog post. Meanwhile, the Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal O’Malley have remained silent on the national and local controversy.

For those supportive of Chick-fil-A, today has been dubbed Chick-fil-A appreciation day.  Visit a Chick-fil-A store to show your support for the chain’s religious values.  In Massachusetts, they are located in the Burlington Mall and Northshore Mall in Peabody.

Here is an excerpt from the LifeSiteNews article on the flap:

Cardinal George slams Chicago mayor’s comments on Chick-fil-A marriage flap

CHICAGO, July 31, 2012 ( – Cardinal Francis George, the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, has taken aim at remarks by the mayor and an alderman of Chicago slamming Chick-Fil-A’s public stance in support of true marriage.

“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,” Cardinal George wrote in a “Reflection on ‘Chicago Values’.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also co-chair of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, told the Chicago Tribune last week that he agreed with the reasons for Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno’s effort to stop Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in the city based on CEO Dan Cathy’s “bigoted, homophobic” views.

Cathy, who is famously outspoken in his Christian beliefs, had said that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting traditional marriage…

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel told the Tribune. “They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

The following day mayoral press secretary Tarrah Cooper issued a statement saying, “The Mayor simply said that Chick-fil-A’s CEO does not share Chicago’s values…he does not believe the CEO’s values are reflective of our city,” according to a Sun-Times report.

But Cardinal George begs to differ with the mayor’s understanding of ‘Chicago values’. “I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval,” he wrote. “Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?

“I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, ‘un-Chicagoan.’”

The Cardinal said that support for gay “marriage” has become “a litmus test for bigotry.” But, he pointed out, Jesus affirmed true marriage “when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh (Mt. 19: 4-6).”

“Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more ‘enlightened’ if he had the privilege of living in our society?” the cardinal asked.

Here is the full text of Cardinal George’s statement, followed by some of the comments from readers.

Reflections on “Chicago values”

By Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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. 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? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?

It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.

Both Church and state do, however, have an interest in regulating marriage. It is not that religious marriage is private and civil marriage public; rather, marriage is a public institution in both Church and state. The state regulates marriage to assure stability in society and for the proper protection and raising of the next generation of citizens. The state has a vested interest in knowing who is married and who is not and in fostering good marriages and strong families for the sake of society.

The Church, because Jesus raised the marital union to the level of symbolizing his own union with his Body the Church, has an interest in determining which marital unions are sacramental and which are not. The Church sees married life as a path to sanctity and as the means for raising children in the faith, as citizens of the universal kingdom of God. These are all legitimate interests of both Church and state, but they assume and do not create the nature of marriage.

People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free. 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.

Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

Reader comments on the Cardinal George blog post:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 4:43 PM

I welcome and agree with the Cardinal’s much needed words of wisdom and truth.
One point of clarification, however:
Long before Jesus spoke of “two becoming one flesh”,(Matthew 19:4-6), G-d told Adam and Eve: “This is why a man leaves his father and mother*, and joins himself to his wife and they become one body” (Genesis 2:24).
* Note: FATHER and MOTHER.i.e. male and female parents.
Please continue the good fight, Cardinal George, and may God bless you.

— Martin L.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 4:16 PM

Thank you .. God bless you, Cardinal George, for speaking the unvarnished truth!

Are we now in in Russia or Cuba, with these outrageous overbearing dictates from heavy handed government officials being flung in our faces about what they deem our faith practices and beliefs should be? How dare they!

I pray resolve, courage, commitment
and guidance in the Churches of the Archdiocese and nationwide and its priests and laypeople, especially by our priests from the altar, which has sadly been missing in the local churches I attend Mass, including the Cathedral.

The flock needs to be lovingly armed with knowledge, courage, faith and inspiration in standing up for the Church and our God-given rights.

Christ said we would be persecuted for our worship of Him. If these blatant, despicable attacks on our religious liberty in Obamacare and the current Chick-fil-a kerfuffle are the signs of the time when we will be called to choose Christ, to go along to get along and not make waves, or be punished, then please .. let us be lead from the pulpit by righteous and brave priests guiding us with truth to fortify and help us.

God bless and save us all.

— J. H.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:52 PM

Thank you Cardinal George for articulating with insight and balance the truth about what marriage is and is not and for addressing the current trend of narrowness of mind and dialogue that seems to have bound up our national conversation. I always thought I lived in a pluralistic society where everyone’s right to hold one’s own values was assured, at least by government. Are we now moving to a totalitarian State? The current change is disturbing and alarming!

— Fr. Joe C.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:38 PM

Thank you, Your Eminence, for speaking out. We hear you all the way to the Archidiocese of Detroit. I’ve been waiting a long time for our Church leaders to respond to what is happening to our core values in the country and you and Cardinal Dolan are great spokesmen.

— Kathy P.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:37 PM

Dear Cardinal George,
thank you for your clearly -worded position. I’m a protestant who has recently been in discussion with my gay friend about gay unions. He prefers the word marriage. I prefer the word union for many of the reasons you mention. The question that finally rose to the surface is the one you asked: Is Jesus a bigot. I think the majority of people desiring some sort of governmental, national, edict making uniiversal gay marriage a fact, want very much to make any voice including Christ’s and His Bride’s that say gay marriage is not the same thing as marriage as Jesus defined it, be silenced. I think it may be the winds of persecution.I think we can and should interact with genuine love and grace to people in the LGBT community, especially, but without compromising our understanding of what Our Lord has taught us. And even though I’m not Catholic, we both love the One Who gave Himself for us; the recent government attacks on the Catholic Church have troubled me deeply. I pray God’s peace and presence are yours.
Leslie A.

— Leslie A.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:27 PM

Well said, Eminence! Please continue to speak out in this way!

— Mya N.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:26 PM

Dear Cardinal,

Well stated! I am so glad to see our church leaders stand up to this persecution. God bless you and your church! Gay activists tell us we should accept all lifestyles without criticism. When we disagree with Home Depot on their support of gay rights, we are considered intolerant. When gay activists disagree with Chick-Fil-A’s CEO on tradition marriage, we are, again, the intolerant ones. They don’t practice what they preach. If they believed what they say, they would just eat at a different fast food restaurant. Just like I choose a Home Depot alternative. What they really believe is ‘if you don’t agree with us, you’ll pay for it’. Where is the tolerance there?

Thank you for not cowering in the corner. Thank you for making a stand. I will be lifting you and your congregation up in prayer.

— Sherrill W.

We encourage and urge Cardinal O’Malley to use this as a teaching opportunity for Boston Catholics and to issue a similar statement. Boston Mayor Menino said, ” “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the City of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

“Inclusion” should mean “including” people whose values might disagree with the personal values of the mayor, and should mean including those who agree with the definition of marriage as it has existed for millenia across all cultures, religions and civilizations. For the Boston Archdiocese to remain silent and not publicly object to the position of “Catholic” Mayor Menino is to leave the impression for millions of Catholics that the Archdiocese of Boston tacitly agrees with Menino. It also says, for all the talk about religious freedom and hooplah over the religious freedom Town Hall Meeting, when push comes to shove, the Boston Archdiocese is not willing to stand up for those freedoms. What do you think?


14 Responses to Chicago Cardinal Speaks out on Chick-fil-A, Boston Cardinal Maintains Silence

  1. jbq2 says:

    Cardinal George has stated: “I will die in my bed. My successor will die in prison. His successor will be publicly executed in the market place”. Does he know something that Cardinal O does not?

  2. "Just Wondering" says:

    God bless you cardinal George. I love your statement which is clear, to the point and Not Pointing Fiingers At any one. I am living in your category as a Priest. I believe in the sanctity of Matrimony and do not judge who do not live in my faith beliefs. I wish my own Spiritual Leader would be as courageous as you are. God bless you and heep it u–we love you Cardinal George, “JUST WONDERING” when this teaching “WITH LOVE” will be spoken and taught by all !!!!!

    • David S. says:

      I was at the Northshore Mall in Peabody today and I joined several hundred people waiting in line at Chik-fil-A. It was quite an incredible experience. From the time I joined the end of the line until the time I was served it took 50 minutes, but everyone in line was in a great mood and talkative. The chicken strips were really good too!

  3. Angry Parish Council member says:

    According to this article, more than 650,000 supporters signed up to support the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Most stores had lines several hours long. Kudos to David S for waiting nearly an hour!! Hopefully, this will show Rahm Emmanuel and Tom Menino that they’re wrong.

    Alas, still nothing from His Eminence here in Boston. Maybe he’ll say something about it in his blog on Friday?

  4. Lazarus' Table says:

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

    • Marie says:

      Your wisdom is audible; his silence speaks volumes.

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      Cicero said cum tacant clamant. When they are silent, they proclaim it.

      Thus does O’Malley proclaim homosexuality? Does he do it because he is being blackmailed? Why not lead the Church Militant like Cardinal George? O’Malley is a poltroon. A closet cardinal.

      Cardinal George: cardinale con coglioni. Cardinal O’Malley: cardinale eunuco nè per Cristo nè per nessuno nè per niente. Zombie morale.

      • JUST WONDERING says:

        Jack, I enjoy your emails and responses, but, I’m afraid, this one goes just a little to far! While I might disagree with Cardinal O’Malley, I wouldn’t go as far as to write what you wrote. Call me what you must, but I would try to show a little more charity in my response. “JUST WONDERING.”

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        You’re probably right, Just Wondering. I am a poor exemplar of the theological virtues. But to practice the one that St Paul calls the greatest of these, in charity, I retract my remarks about the Cardinal. They were the result of one of the deadly sins, anger. I’d like to think it was righteous anger.

        But let me rephrase the idea more charitably. I consider the Cardinal to be a fine exemplar of six of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. He needs to understand why he wears the red. When he wears the red, that is.


    Thank you, Jack. I love a person who can admit an error. Like you, I too fall into that trap of “anger” and need someone to give me a good boot in the behind. Thank you. “JUST WONDERING.”

    • Carolyn says:

      Dear JW,

      You exhibit all seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the strongest sources of respect for RCAB priests is that they have kept the faithful fed, while they have had no leader since 2003.

      We all, great and small, make mistakes. Curt Schilling was admitted to the Red Sox Hall of Fame the other day. A reporter asked him about the failure of his company, 38Studios. He said words to this effect: “I put everything I had, literally, into something I thought would be world changing. I failed. I let a lot of people down. But that is how life works. You have 2004 and you have 2012. My wife and kids are healthy, so we have a lot. I am grateful for all of life – the ups and the downs.”

      Ironic that Curt Schilling is the man who understood what the red stands for – he had the ultimate red sock. The cardinal is vested in red to represent the blood he would willingly shed for his sheep. Yet his apparent insatiable need to be comfortable makes him reach for his Capuchin habit – not his red cassock.

      One could forgive the cardinal his failings if he showed some intent to amend his life. Absolution, as you well know, can only be given if the penitent states sincere sorrow for the sin, and expresses the firm resolve not to sin again.

      Cardinal George has wrestled twice with dire cancer diagnoses. Maybe having been so close to death he can be both brave and charitable in one fell swoop. He teaches us all well. And so we find our spiritual leaders in Chicago and New York instead of Boston… not what it could be for the sake of the presbyterate in Boston, but with Cardinals George and Dolan we have a lot to make us grateful.

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      And thank you Fr. Just Wondering.

      Kudos again to Cardinal George.

      And I think it may be premature to exalt Cardinal Dolan to George’s level. Let’s see whether he backpedals on his contemptible decision to invite Obama to the Al Smith dinner.

      If Dolan is too craven disinvite the anti-Catholic abortion promoter, maybe Notre Dame will award him (Dolan) an honorary Doctorate of Casuistry.

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      Just to be clear – the Cardinal Dolan remark was in response to Carolyn, not Just Wondering.

  6. Lazarus' Table says:

    Red vs Brown……. While on a tour of Quebec City, the young guide told us why, at a battle, the Britsh wore red coats– so that when shot, the blood would be camouflaged by the red of their coats and thus neither encourage the enemy nor dishearten the British troops. It was for the same reason, he said, that the French-Canadian militia wore brown pants……

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