|Photo by Photobra Adam Bielawski;used|
under Creative Commons License.
(The Cardinal looks a bit like my dad in this photo!)
Rather than accept the summary you find in the news, I suggest you read the Cardinal's own words. After all, he is a brilliant man who has spent a great deal of time pondering the matter and its implications for Catholics, and this is an extremely sensitive issue: not just complex, but close to the heart for many people who cannot see anything but close-mindedness and bigotry in the Church's position, which the Cardinal applies to the situation facing us in Illinois this week.
The most immediate threat to Catholics that the letter points out is actually one that is already playing out in society: "Those who continue to distinguish between genuine marital union and same sex arrangements will be regarded in law as discriminatory, the equivalent of bigots." The next step, the Cardinal seems to say, will be legal action against behaviors, policies and possibly even teachings construed as "discriminatory" or "hate speech." This in the name of "fairness."
Personally, I don't expect the Cardinal's letter to have much impact on the political action here in Illinois, but I do hope and pray that Catholics who up to this point have been drifting along with the tide of the surrounding cultural assumptions will at least give him a hearing.
UPDATE: JAN 3
Yesterday 1700 religious leaders in Illinois issued a letter to Illinois lawmakers on the issue, expressing concern for both the natural order and for the First Amendment rights of religious believers. "If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations...will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations," putting them at risk of lawsuits (as has already happened in other states), harrassment and accusations. Read the full statement by Illinois religious leaders on same-sex marriage here.
Brandon Vogt prepared a post for The National Catholic Register on the 10 most common arguments in favor of same-sex marriage; it is worth reading. I am sure you have already heard all 10, and perhaps have not known how to respond in clarity and charity.
UPDATE: JAN 5
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield IL issued a letter of his own on the legislation (which will now be presented to the new legislature, rather than the lame-duck session that just ended).