Catholic Cardinal Makes a [Pathetic] Apology

For those of you who missed it, Cardinal George of the Chicago diocese of the Catholic church recently made statements on FOX News comparing the QUILTBAG community to the KKK because pride parade organizers changed the parade’s route this year, meaning that the parade would pass by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.  Because you know, marching past a church one day out of the whole year and potentially making things a bit more difficult for church-goers wishing to attend services that day[1] is exactly the same as terrorizing non-caucasian people with cross burnings and other such activities.  (For further thoughts on the Cardinal’s statements, be sure to check out Fannie’s post.)

Well, apparently that hasn’t gone well for Cardinal, (shocker, I know) because he issued the following statement on the archdiocese website:

Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
January 6, 2012

During a recent TV interview, speaking about this year’s Gay Pride Parade, I used an analogy that is inflammatory.

I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan.  I do not believe that; it is obviously not true.  Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I.  We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are.  I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.

I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church’s liberty.  This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

This is what some of us like to call a “fauxpology.”  Note that the Cardinal isn’t actually sorry for what he said, he’s merely sorry for the way some people interpreted what he said.  Apparently, to the Cardinal, there is some mystic context in which it’s okay to compare QUILTBAG people — any QUILTBAG person[2] — to the KKK.  A real apology would have started not with “I’m distressed that people took my statements that way,” but with “That was a rather cruel and defamatory thing I said.  I’m sorry.”

It would’ve ended there, too.  There would be no further need for an explanation or an attempt to rationalize his statements.  To be honest, the person you owe an apology to does not care why you said or did something hurtful to them. They don’t care whether you were motivated by fear, greed, or voices in your head.  They just want you to stop hurting them and make whatever restorative steps may be appropriate.

The fact that the Cardinal goes on to talk about his “motivating fears” means not only that he’s trying to make excuses why what he said wasn’t so bad, but he’s trying to make the whole thing about him.  Instead of focusing on the people he’s hurt, he’s making a shameless play for sympathy.

It’s a bad play at that.  He’s afraid of the loss of religious liberty?  Again, consider that the only “religious liberty” in jeopardy by the parade were that some church-goers might have been inconvenienced for a single service.  And while I appreciate that the parade organizers were willing to do something to mitigate that problem, such a minor inconvenience would have hardly made a martyr of anyone.  The Cardinal is simply playing into the persecution complex that his church has been well known for lately.

Recall that the Catholic church has lately been playing the martyr card because various states — including Illinois — has been telling them that Catholic Charities cannot take taxpayer money for adoption and foster care services while discriminating against QUILTBAG people.  They’ve also been complaining that Catholic health services cannot receive aid for health programs that refuse to either provide women with reproductive services or at least refer them to someone else.  It seems to me that Catholic leaders like Cardinal George only care about waning liberties when it’s their own religious liberties.  When it comes to the rights of women and QUILTBAG people that they’re religion doesn’t care fore, they’re okay with diminishing rights.

Of course, the greatest insult is how Cardinal George plays the “I have friends and loved ones who are gay” card, as if that somehow absolves him of his horribly anti-gay and homophobic statements.  I recently talked about the “gay friend” defense and will not repeat myself here.

Given the importance that the concept that repentance and reconciliation plays in Catholic theology, it seems to me that Cardinal George would do well to do a better job acting out both in this situation.

Notes:
[1]  To the parade organizers’ credit, they delayed the start of the parade when the church expressed concerns about the parade interfering with church-goers ability to attend services.  In my book, they’re willingness to work with the church made the Cardinal’s comments all that more egregious.
[2]  Okay, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there’s a QUILTBAG person out there who is actually a member of the KKK.  But then, they’re sexual orientation and/or gender identity have nothing to do with the fact that they’re a racist.  And it wouldn’t be a comparison.

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