In the days and weeks following Cardinal Francis George of Chicago’s comparison of the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan, Catholics have continued to organize and speak out. Cardinal George initially made his comparison in an interview with Chicago Fox affiliate WFLD just before Christmas, but despite calls to not air the interview, WFLD aired it Christmas morning.
Many Catholics have found the Cardinal’s comments and the ensuing backlash to be an opportunity to educate the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the reality of LGBT Catholics. Dignity Chicago is one of several Dignity chapters celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Comments like those of Cardinal George’s are one of the reasons why the prophetic call of Dignity is as important now as it was 40 years ago.
The Chicago Tribune published an editorial, “The Cardinal’s Bizarre Analogy,” that outlines the original impetus of Cardinal George’s comparison. The Chicago Pride parade had been rerouted to handle increasing crowds. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parish worried that the new route would restrict access to Sunday morning mass. Since then, the parade has changed the start time to accommodate a Sunday morning worship schedule. The Tribune wondered why such an extreme comparison was needed to address access to a church parking lot. It also quoted Dignity Chicago member Martin Grochala, "We have not been violent…so for the cardinal to then equate our movement with one of the most heinous and murderous organizations in the history of our country is just baffling." Dignity Chicago joined many faith organizations that make up the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Congregations to make a statement, challenging the statement of Cardinal George.
Cardinal George was also scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate and be the commencement speaker at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. Following his comparison, a petition began circulating, calling on the college to disinvite the Cardinal to commencement. Green Bay NBC Affiliate WGBA featured several people connected with the community at St. Norbert, including Michele Becker and John and Loretta Larkey. These families expressed to WGBA their deep concern that the Cardinal has become a divisive figure whose comments hurt and alienate LGBT people and Catholics in the St. Norbert community.
In the wake of wide criticism, Cardinal George reiterated his comparison in a statement on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website. The statement reopened the controversy, further angering LGBT and allied Catholics, both in and beyond Chicago.
GLAAD is very proud to support the faithful witness of people like Martin Grochala, Michelle Becker, the Larkeys and the countless other faithful Catholics who love and support their LGBT friends and family. Despite statements from the hierarchy, the vast majority of Catholics support LGBT people. GLAAD continues to call on media outlets to include the voices of pro-LGBT Catholics, who can demonstrate the love and inclusion that can be commonly found within their faith.