Cardinal Francis George Apologizes… Kind of

Remember when Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George compared participants in the upcoming Gay Pride Parade to KKK members?

Well, two weeks later, he finally got around to apologizing:

Cardinal Francis George (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

“I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused,” George said in an interview with the Tribune. “Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it’s part of our lives. So I’m sorry for the hurt.”

“When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church’s liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I’m sorry,” George said. “I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation.”

Translation: I fear that if our society accepts gay marriage, nothing at all will change for the worse, and people will find out that everything we’ve told them about gay people over the past several decades are lies. So I made the most idiotic comparison I could think of to deflect attention from my bigotry.

Also: Members of my family secretly hate me.

But, hey, if he wants to apologize, great. Even if it’s too late, even if it doesn’t change anything, at least he’s acknowledging he did something wrong. A couple of pro-family groups in Chicago (and by that, I mean they support all families, gay and straight) have already extended their appreciation for his apology. One group isn’t satisfied because they see it as simply lip service, and they have a point.

The Illinois “Family” Institute’s Laurie Higgins doesn’t like the apology one bit.

His primary justification [in apologizing] or at least his public justification was that his analogy was hurtful. I wonder if he would publicly state that homosexual acts are “abominable.” Surely, that would be “hurtful” to those who identify as homosexual, and yet that’s how Scripture characterizes them.

What I wish Cardinal George had said was that homosexual acts are soul-destroying acts that are “detestable” in God’s eyes and that the parade is a tragic, offensive event that shouldn’t take place on any day in any neighborhood. It is not an act of love to affirm or appear to affirm that which God condemns.

In other words:

Sure, he compared gay pride participants to KKK members… but someone else being gay makes Jesus feel icky! And that’s all that matters.

It’s great to watch these people speak their mind about gay people — their inner bigotry comes right out in the open. Most young people, including many young Christians, know that gay people getting equal rights won’t ruin anything in our society. The more people like Higgins, Cardinal George, and Rick Santorum speak out against gay rights (especially when they preface it with the idiotic “I love gay people, but…”) it just makes the case stronger for us and convinces young people that the anti-gay-rights side is full of people guided not by reality, but a hateful mythology.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    The curious spot the LGBT struggle is at in the US leaves me in a bit of a dilemma.

    In recent years we have seen a tidal change in the way we talk about gay rights. Suddenly, being overtly anti-gay has become a liability. Anti-gay politicians still feel the same way and (more vitally) vote the same way, but they feel the need to couch their bigotry in soft-sounding words, rushing to say that their votes to condemn LGBT people and their children to second class citizens has nothing to do with “hating” them, and that they respect their right to exist, but religious liberty and blah blah blah. Being openly hateful like Laurie is no longer politically viable in most places and in many others politicians are touting being pro-gay as a plus. Things are clearly going towards equality.

    So in that sense I want the opponents to be hateful. I want them to be over the top and ridiculous, like Laurie. The more the anti-equality face is that of the Santorums and Higgins of this world, the faster those on the fence will join the equality side. I don’t want there to be a vaguely comfortable “fuzzy bigotry” place where people think it’s ok to deny others rights just as long as they’re “nice” about it.

    On the other hand, I’m not bi, trans or lesbian, so I can’t fully understand the effects such hatred has on the mind. The presence of such hateful rhetoric must trickle down into the lives of regular people, and most enragingly, GLBT children, and can cause psychological damage. Maybe it’s better to marginalize the openly bigoted in favor of the fuzzy sort if only to spare GLBT individuals from the worst of the venom.

    I can’t say which of the two options is the lesser of two evils, unfortunately.

    • PJB863

      Venom is deadly, whether delivered directly by the snake or in a sugar coated tablet. 

      Speaking as a gay man, I find the “warm fuzzy” bigotry every bit as offensive as the bald faced stuff.  And kids aren’t stupid either, they can see it for what it is.

  • David Franks

    It’s interesting that Higgins wrote FOUR articles about the George/Pride parade story on the IFI site.  Clearly, she’s more obsessed about this story than anyone.  I agree with the above comment — the more ridiculous and shrill the anti-gay opponents are, the better they make us look.  Higgins is now dragging the IFI down with her obsessive and insane homobigotry just as Peter LaBarbera was a few years ago.  I suspect that one day soon, they’ll dump her, too.  Good riddance.

  • http://thefloatinglantern.wordpress.com/ Tim Martin

    “At least he’s acknowledging that he did something wrong.”

    He’s acknowledging the wrong thing. The problem isn’t that he hurt people, it’s that he made a comparison that was completely odious and unfounded. This is a classic not-pology, of the “I’m sorry you feel that way” variety.

  • Chris

    What do you expect from a man whose sexual life consists of guilt-ridden, solitary self-gratification.

    • HitchsApprentice

      Isn’t that a ‘Mortal’ Sin?  Perhaps he should whip himself with some chains, to repent………

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Mmmm, chains…

  • http://profiles.google.com/personman2 Danny Ferguson

    “**Sometimes** fear is a bad motivation.”? I think he could leave off the “sometimes.”

  • Prosey

    I couldn’t help but notice the non-apology in the apology. “I’m truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused…” (emphasis added) The way I was raised, apologizing was a matter of remorse, and if you weren’t truly sorry, then do not apologize. Saying sorry for an outcome that was caused by something that was said is not an apology.  A genuine apology would have removed the italicized portion of his statement, and would be followed by action to demonstrate true remorse. I was taught that when we apologize for a “hurt” that someone else feels as a result of our words and actions, then all that we’re doing is putting a bandaid fix to make ourselves look better, and has nothing to do with the other person’s actual feelings or actually being sorry. George’s “apology” is duplicitous, because it reflects that he is not actually one bit sorry for what he *said* (the truth of his heart through his words), but he needs to smooth over feathers.

    As revolting and repugnant as I find Higgins’ statement, at least the entire world knows where she (and her “institute”) stands on the matter. She said what she believes, what she feels, without remorse or apology to whomever it might harm — no “making herself look better” — just the truth of her heart through her words. No couching, no light-touching, no candy-coating. She reveals herself as the bigot she is through the words she says.

    Truth requires a harsh spotlight. Sometimes that truth is ugly. But it’s better to know it up front. Just my opinion.

    • The Other Weirdo

      A few years ago, when the previous Pope was in Mexico, he made a speech that apologized for the child abuse, but when boiled it, it basically said, “I’m sorry the Church got hurt in this.” Many people, especially the survivors, were very disappointed. This is just a continuation of same-old, same-old.

    • Charles Black

      Let me guess this cardinal is pretending to apologises for his remarks about gay people, when he is probably calling them names like “abomination” as we type on this blog. It kind of reminds of the Catholic Church’s method of dealing with pedophile priests, they claim to be sorry for the abuse but they probably high-five the priests who did it.
      How anyone can believe these non-apologies is a mystery in itself.

      • Charles Black

        *apologise**me*

  • Michael D

    I really don’t know what everyone is so bother about with this gay marriage thing. I live in Canada where we have legal same-sex marriage and I don’t think I’ve seen anything of any consequence change aside from a few more marriages and divorces.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alex.dennis.macomber Alex Dennis Macomber

       Yes, well, we thought repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would cause the military to implode as well, despite the fact that we were behind a good deal of the rest of the world in doing so by quite a while, and none of the other countries that did it suffered adverse effects from it. I guess we Americans just have a disproportionate lack of confidence in our ability to accommodate social changes that the rest of the world takes as a matter of course. It’s almost funny when you think of it that way. Funny in a dark, depressing, I-don’t-want-to-live-in-this-country-anymore sort of way.

  • Fester Sixonesixonethree

    Why did it take two weeks? I doubt he read this: http://fester60613.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/cardinal-francis-george-compares-gay-pride-parade-participants-to-kkk-members-2/

    • HitchsApprentice

      He had to wait for the Pope to tell him what to do, first.

  • EJC

    The prick is only saying it to save his ass, the ass of the Catholic church, and those delicious asses of the alter boys.

    Fuck the Catholics.

    • EJC

      *altar

      Doh!

  • Parse

    What’s horrible about his apology is that he’s not apologizing for his comments, but for the hurt they caused.  There’s a nontrivial difference between the two; apologizing for the hurt suggests that he’ll probably say such things again (but only to sympathetic ears).

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    That’s an non-pology.   You notice that if as the non-pology goes on, it becomes difficult to see if the hurt he is sorry for is caused by his word, or the existence of gays and lesbians. 

  • HitchsApprentice

    I’ve already written about this extensively on Huff Post…. All I can say now is, wherever this Cardinal walks, he leaves a trail of Stench behind him, a mile long, that smells like SHIT!

  • The Other Weirdo

    This has evidently wounded a good number of people.

    In other words, it had to be pointed out to him that the comparison would hurt people. I wonder what comparing black gays to the KKK means. Is that like comparing Israelis to the Nazis?

  • Sebastian Gomez

    As an Atheist, I have no indoctrination against gay people. I don’t believe in the “you should like gay people, otherwise you are a bigot” PC bullshit either, not discriminating against a particular group doesn’t mean liking them. Why would I like a group in general, just because? I might like or dislike people, but I judge that in an individual bases. Somebody might be a nice guy, and I might like him, and I wouldn’t care what he decides to do with his dick. That’s what non-discrimination is all about: Liking people based on who they are, what they think, how they act, not on some superficial characteristic. 

    But this new atheist movement feels the need to just like everything the catholic church doesn’t, and to be all PC about it too, saying we are all equal every other word, trying to prove to everyone else that “we can be moral too”, that we are good guys, friendly atheists. 

    Well, I don’t like that side of this movement at all. I have always been very vocal about my Atheism since I rejected to take my first communion (coming from a catholic family) when I was about 12 years old, and criticize atheist who keep it to themselves, that’s a positive side of this new Atheism, speaking out. But why is it that new Atheists feel that we must convince everyone else that we are good guys? And also, why do we buy into their whole way of doing things? Secular churches, Secular charities, supporting gay marriage?

    Speaking of this issue, gay marriage, well, I don’t understand why we support it. We should be working, in any case, to eliminate all kinds of marriage, not to add a new kind or support any kind of marriages. Marriage is a Religious-Legal institution. The government helping the church to control fucking. Why the fuck do we want to help them do that? 

    Also, it seems like you are trying to pad your numbers. There are, sadly, fewer vocal atheists than we might like, so we pad our group with other people hated by the religious right? Even if they aren’t atheists at all? Ar we sure that’s a good idea?

    If you are an Atheist, ethical, and gay, awesome, please join us. You got us an Atheist, Ethical, and nobody is going to judge you by your sexuality. If you are gay and religious, and trying to get this stupid religious society to allow you to participate in their primitive ceremonies and institutions such as Marriage, then you are the enemy. 

    I know somebody is going to say that secular marriage gives people rights, well, even if the ceremony is not strictly religious, it still means getting a license to fuck, and that’s what the church wants. The fact that such a legal institution exists just goes to show that the government supports religion. 

    • T-Rex

      I’m a married parent of 3 but I don’t see why married couples should have more priveleges than non-married people. Why should a single mother or father not be granted the same priveleges as a married parent? WTF is up with that?

    • Anonymous

      I can at least agree that we shouldn’t have legal marriage. It’s discrimination against single people and those who don’t want to be married.

    • Anonymous

      You wrote “I don’t believe in the “you should like gay people, otherwise you are a bigot” PC bullshit either,” Please point out one example of this so called PC bullshit that you just claimed exists. I have never seen it. Not in the Atheist community or the LGBT community either. Of course the “You should support equal rights for all people otherwise you are a BIGOT” concept is thankfully alive and well. You are correct that marriage is an agreement by people to allow the state greater regulation of their lives, and for the extra power the state is granted it offers cookies of special legal rights. This is ridiculous but beside the point of whether to let gays marry or not.

    • Anonymous

      Marriage is a Religious-Legal institution

      Uh, not to the millions of atheists who are married.

      This canard about marriage being ‘religious’ really needs to be put to rest.

  • SJH

    I believe that homosexual citizens should be granted the same rights as any other individual. (The marriage issue is complicated so I won’t get into that now. All I will say is that I can see a scenario where gay marriage is allowed by the government but it is not that simple.)

    Having said this, I don’t agree with the potential implications of your statement, “Most young people, including many young Christians, know that gay people getting equal rights won’t ruin anything in our society.”

    This can imply that homosexuality in general causes no harm to a society. Obviously a distinction can be drawn between what we should have the right to do and what harms a society. We can make the assessment that homosexual persons deserve the rights that everyone else enjoys but can we really make the assessment that homosexual actions do not cause harm to a society? I would say that we cannot. My belief is that homosexuality does cause harm as it becomes prevalent in a society. I believe that a society will start to break down as the right to life becomes relative and the heterosexual family unit breaks down. I cannot, of course, say this with certainty since I have no way to test this theory but until we can test it I will have to use my best judgement and do what I think is best for the society.

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      Why would gay marriage make anyone value life any less? 

      People said the exact same thing about the destruction of the family unit when women entered the workforce.  Change certainly isn’t always a bad thing, so why is it assumed that granting equal rights to MORE citizens is somehow dangerous or wrong, when historically equal rights are among our proudest achievements?  It’s not a zero-sum game. 

      • SJH

        Sorry, the life thing is another issue but not necessarily directly related. I probably should not have included that.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      You seem to be operating under the assumption that homosexuality is becoming more prevalent. Gay and lesbian people have always been around. There aren’t more of them now than there were 50 years ago. It’s just that they’re now able to live their lives openly.

      Furthermore, you seem to be saying that homosexuality causes harm as it “becomes prevalent” by breaking down the heterosexual family unit. Could you please provide some evidence of that? How do same-sex couples cause straight couples to divorce? How do they cause straight men to abandon their wives and children?

      My parents are lesbians. They have been together for over 30 years and raised two children to adulthood. Successfully, in my humble opinion. Would you please explain how their relationship is harmful to society and is somehow causing the breakdown of the heterosexual family unit? My parents haven’t caused any of our family members (or anyone else) to divorce their spouses or abandon their children. Whatever problems may exist in someone else’s heterosexual marriage have nothing to do with them.

      • http://www.bblss.org/ Miki

        Anna asked:  Would you please explain how their relationship is harmful to society and is somehow causing the breakdown of the heterosexual family unit?

        Oh, c’mon, Anna.  You know the answer.  Those were two vaginas that (presumably) weren’t readily available to men.  Hence the “breakdown of the heterosexual family unit.”  And we certainly can’t be having households without men “leading” them. *grimace*

      • SJH

        Is it true that it is not more prevalent? How can we know this? Also, my assumption is not necessarily that it is more prevalent but that it contributes to a society where there is a degradation of the heterosexual family. It is not the root cause but one of many, many causes.

        Please see my post above for some additional thoughts on your second paragraph.

        I am sure your parents are good loving parents and deserve a lot of credit for raising a person that is a blessing to our society. I am not speaking about any one individual but about overall trends, philosophy and culture. How do we want our nation/culture to progress and what is the best way to do that.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          How lovely that you are “not speaking about any one individual.” That’s a nice dodge. You can just go right along acting like you are not talking about real people. But we are talking about actual people here, not faceless, hypothetical “trends.” My parents are real people. I’m a real person. Families like mine exist, and they will continue to exist regardless of what people say about them.

          The problem here is that you are making unfounded assertions. You’re the one making a positive claim. Therefore, it is up to you to provide evidence of what you are claiming to be true. If you can’t provide that evidence, then why should I even entertain the notion that your statements are true?

          You say that homosexuality is increasing in society and that it’s a bad thing because it ”contributes to the degradation of the heterosexual family,” (disgusting and offensive, by the way!) despite the fact that there is zero evidence to support either of those assertions. If you are making those claims, I would like you to provide evidence for them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

          In what way do homosexuals contribute to a degradation of heterosexual marriages? In other words – what influence do gay couples (or gay people) have on my hetero relationship?

    • Anonymous

      The sky will fall any day now

    • Anonymous

      I believe that a society will start to break down as the right to life becomes relative and the heterosexual family unit breaks down.

      What on earth makes you think that same sex couples being able to marry will lead to the heterosexual family unit “breaking down”?

      Heterosexual people won’t stop marrying people of the opposite sex just because people of the same sex can get married too.

      I don’t mean to be insulting, but did you give any serious thought to the point you thought you were making?   

      • SJH

        Thank you for pointing out the gap in my statements. It is a complicated issue since there are many issues that arise when discussing this topic. For brevity’s sake here are a few points, sorry, but also with many gaps that would take a longer discussion to evaluate.
        (Also, I don’t mean to sound judgmental to anyone in their own specific case. We must all strive to do what we think is best given our own situation. We can only do our best given the information we have so I hope no one feels insulted or hurt by my frankness)

        Homosexuality is a behavior that breaks down the family unit by withholding the ability to procreate in a way that is innately loving and long lasting.

        It seems to me that its primary purpose is to fulfill sexual desires. I can have a nonsexual loving relationship with another man and it can be a benefit to our lives and to society. I guess the question becomes, what is a marital relationship and what is its purpose? Is this something we decide on collectively? Is this something defined by nature? Does it change as our nature changes? Is this change a bad thing or should we allow it and see it as progress?

        For now, I think that we need to be careful to not reduce a love (marital) relationship to the same level as a sexual relationship. It should be seen as something much deeper and profound. If it begins to be defined by our sexual desires then we are breaking down our understanding of sexuality, matrimony and therefor heterosexual love and family.

        Of course all of this is much more complicated and many books can be written about it, many of which would be beyond my understanding, but I hope this helps enlighten the conversation and not hinder it.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          Homosexuality is a behavior that breaks down the family unit by withholding the ability to procreate in a way that is innately loving and long lasting.

          What does that even mean? “Withholding” the ability to procreate? I hate to break it to you, but plenty of heterosexual couples choose not to procreate. Are you saying they don’t have an “innately loving and long lasting” marital relationship?

          For now, I think that we need to be careful to not reduce a love (marital) relationship to the same level as a sexual relationship.

          This is a sickeningly offensive thing you have just said. You are basically saying that same-sex couples are only in it for sexual gratification, that they can’t “really” love each other the way a man and woman do, simply because they can’t create a child that shares both of their genetic material. Never mind the fact that plenty of same-sex couples share their lives for 30, 40, 50 years or more. Never mind the fact that plenty of same-sex couples do bring children into their relationship. They’re “innately” not as good simply because they can’t make a baby by having one partner’s sperm join up with the other partner’s egg.

          Frankly, I’m shocked that we seem to have jumped back in time 40 years, to the ridiculous assertion that gay people are only in it for the sex and can’t actually love each other. “Heterosexual love and family” is the only real kind apparently, and everyone else’s love and family is inferior. You can couch it in “gentle” terms, but that is a morally repugnant thing to say.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

          Homosexuality is a behavior that breaks down the family unit by withholding the ability to procreate in a way that is innately loving and long lasting.

          Wow. Just… wow. By your logic, then, my 15-year ‘love’ (albeit not ‘marital’) relationship with my male partner accomplishes the same thing, as we both decided to ‘withhold our ability to procreate’.

          And why on earth do you assume that homosexual people don’t fall in love, have long-term and/or lifetime relationships, or otherwise have the same romantic feelings/angsts/entanglements etc  as heterosexual people do? Especially since there is someone here whose life experience directly falsifies your hypothesis – and she has pointed this out to you?

    • Anonymous

      I cannot, of course, say this with certainty since I have no way to test this theory but until we can test it I will have to use my best judgement and do what I think is best for the society.

      What an odd choice of verbiage.  “do what i think is best for the society”?  By that do you mean that you’ll refrain from getting married to someone of the same gender? 

      *perplexed*

      • SJH

        Probably not the best choice of words. What I meant was that if something is unhealthy for a society then maybe we should collectively avoid that behavior. It is my opinion that homosexual behavior is unhealthy for a society and should therefor be avoided.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

          You still haven’t demonstrated why and/or how homosexual behaviour is unhealthy for a society. Please do, because I am sincerely trying to understand your position.

          I live in a large city, with a large population of gay people – so far, we’ve not seen any sort of societal catastrophe as a result. I used to live in the ‘gaybourhood’, in fact, and nothing bad happened. What should I be looking out for? I wonder if I missed something.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    “When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church’s liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I’m sorry,” George said.

    Ah, the “church’s liberty.” No one is going after the Catholic church’s right to discriminate against whoever they want in their own private institutions. They’re not being forced to marry same-sex couples, ordain gay priests, or admit children of gay parents to Catholic schools. Cardinal George and his brethren are just upset that they can no longer partner up with the state and use government money to discriminate against LGBT people.

  • Anonymous

    It’s bad for business to accept everyone. Whats the point of giving money to a church that doesn’t make you feel better than someone else? Might as well just become an atheist.

  • Dan W

    I agree with other commenters- this is a non-apology apology. 

  • Anonymous

    gersss wctube


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