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Cardinal George challenged to debate at Center on Halsted

News update posted Dec. 29, 2011

by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times LINK

GLN permalink 12-29-2011

A Catholic LGBT leader has challenged Chicago Cardinal Francis George to a debate, after the cardinal compared the Pride Parade to a Klu Klux Klan gathering repeatedly in recent days.

Joe Murray, the executive director of the Rainbow Sash Movement ( RSM ) invited the archbishop to face off at the LGBT Center on Halsted on a day and time of his choosing.

In a statement, released by the RSM, the organization commends George for removing a message in which he compared the LGBT Pride Parade to a KKK protest from the Archdiocese of Chicago website.

George's message was his third public reference to the KKK in relation to the Chicago Pride Parade recently, after revisions to the parade route and time threatened to interrupt Sunday morning services at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lakeview.

"When the pastor's request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940's, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus."

Parade organizers and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church came to an agreement approximately two weeks ago, after organizers agreed to push the start time of the parade back to noon.

George, however, reiterated his comments on Dec. 27, only to remove the statement from the page amid controversy.

"We want to encourage the Cardinal to now apologize for using an ill-advised metaphor of comparing the gay liberation movement to the KKK," RSM said in a statement. "The Cardinal only trivializes the history of Catholics being discriminated against in the past by making such an unreasonable association."

Windy City Times attempted to contact George after he initially told Fox News Chicago that he feared the Pride Parade could mirror the KKK in protesting Catholics. According to a Susan Burritt, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago who responded to the inquiry on Dec. 28, "Cardinal George is on vacation and unavailable for comments."

Also out of the office this week is Father Thomas Srenn of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, who did not respond to requests from Windy City Times to comment on the cardinal's comparison. According to his voicemail, Srenn will return to work after Dec. 31.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is home to Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach , and Srenn said that his request to move the start time of the parade was not due the content of the parade, but rather the difficulty it created for worshippers attending church that morning. Srenn declined to comment on George's recent remarks when asked last week, but said that the compromise with Parade organizers satisfied the church's request.

Direct-action LGBT group Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) voiced opposition to the Cardinal in a letter sent to Windy City Times. The organization has protested George in the past on Valentine's Day as part of National Freedom to Marry Day actions.

"We know that the Catholic laity are often supportive of LGBTs and our rights while the church leaders are not, and this is both threatening to the latter and a challenge," GLN wrote. "Their attacks against us are just as much an effort to win support from their parishioners as they are to score points against our movement."

As in past years, GLN will protest outside of Holy Name Cathedral on Feb. 14.

Gay Liberation Network


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