Cardinal George, you’re wrong about Chicago Gay Pride

BRUNO DOMINGOS REUTERS Two men kiss each other during a pro-gay demonstration in front of the Nossa Senhora da Paz … Continued



Two men kiss each other during a pro-gay demonstration in front of the Nossa Senhora da Paz church in the Ipamena district of Rio de Janeiro, in this August 3, 2003 file photograph. Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court on May 5, 2011, legally recognized homosexual partnerships in a landmark case for gay rights in a country with the world’s largest population of Roman Catholics.

Chicago Gay Pride is a deeply spiritual event, combining a celebration of the diversity of humanity with a zest for life lived truthfully. Chicago Gay Pride is one of the largest such parades in the U.S., and it is listed on the city of Chicago’s official tourism Web site. Many, many Chicagoans are proud of their Pride Parade.

As a Chicagoan who is proud of Chicago Pride, therefore, I was very distressed to hear the Catholic Cardinal of Chicago, Francis George, make statementsto FOX Chicago Sunday, intimating that this wonderful Chicago event could become comparable to demonstrations by the Klu Klux Klan against Catholicism.

The presenting issue was that Chicago’s upcoming gay pride event had been rerouted past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and might logistically interfere with that Sunday’s services. But Cardinal George’s response was to fear-monger against LGBTQ Chicagoans and their allies who participate in Pride. The cardinal said, “You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

Equally Blessed, an umbrella group of four pro-LGBTQ rights Catholic organizations, has issued a statement condemning such a comparison that has “demeaned and demoralized” Chicago’s Gay community, and doing so in a way that draws a comparison to the “murderous nightriders of the Ku Klux Klan.” A petition at has called for Cardinal George to resign, and has started an online petition.

I have another idea. Today I have written a letter to Cardinal George’s office, asking him if he will be my guest and march with the Chicago Theological Seminary’s Pride group in the 2012 Chicago Gay Pride parade.

This is a serious invitation. First, I make it in full confidence that the cardinal would be welcome in the Seminary’s Pride group. The United Church of Christ, to which our school is related, has as it’s motto, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” We practice what we like to call a “radical welcome” and that includes the cardinal. We have had many fine Catholic students over the years.

Second, I would like to invite the cardinal because I have become an ally of the LGBTQ community and it has been an incredible spiritual and theological journey for me. I would like to share with him a small part of how important this journey can be for Christian leaders as well as parishioners.

I have learned so much from what a spirituality of truthfulness teaches, and how it can illumine a great deal about the Christian Gospel, as well as about theology, ethics, pastoral care, and worship. Over the years of teaching and learning with gay students, faculty, and staff colleagues, both at the seminary, around the nation and indeed around the world, I have gained from their courage in facing up to a world that is hostile to their very humanity, and challenging churches that claim they are not included in God’s love and care. Despite all the hurtful and harmful religious messages, many LGBT people nevertheless come to know God’s love and affirmation for exactly who they are. As title of the biography of Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, says so well,
The Lord is My Shepherd and He Know’s I’m Gay.

I have also learned that change is possible. For example, this year’s Pride Parade will now start at 12 noon, as the Chicago’s LGBT community has graciously agreed, following a meeting with representatives of Our Lady of Mount Carmel last week, to start later in order to accommodate those attending services at the church.

Change is also coming to the Catholic Church as more gay Catholics join groups working to change the church, and more straight Catholics come to know their fellow parishioners and respect them.

Cardinal George has now attempted to walk back his hurtful comments, indicating the comparison was only “parade-parade” not “people and people.” It’s a start, but it’s far from enough.

Thus, my invitation stands, because more change is needed in the Catholic church, and truly in all churches, so that the “people and people” comparison is not merely descriptive, but a positive and even spiritually enlightening one.

Join us in Chicago Theological Seminary group at Pride, 2012, Cardinal George. I promise you it will help with your ministry.


Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is Professor of Theology and immediate past President of Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Her most recent books are "#OccupytheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power" and, as contributor and editor, "Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War."
  • WmarkW

    From deep with in the more: CarrotCakeMan wrote:
    “Perhaps you might want to think twice before you reveal your interest in this matter again, WmarkW.”

    My interest is free and fair debate without name-calling or insinuation.
    Pro-gays like to treat anti-gay speech as analogous to hating blacks.
    Anti’s think it’s more like hating drug abuse.

    Is a button that says “Fight AIDS: Don’t use the Back Door” any less worthy of speech protection than “Meth Equals Death”?

  • WmarkW

    This was in reply to a post in which you claimed “being gay or lesbian is just as healthy and “normal” as being non-gay.” At least in terms of blood-borne disease transmission rates, this is false.

  • bobbarnes

    Heterosexual, Sub-continent Africa has been breaking records for HIV and AIDS, I guess WW can add being Pro-black to his list of wrongs. But something tells me he’s an equal opportunity bigot.

    BTW, name calling just cuts out the waste of time… A jerk is a jerk.

  • quiensabe

    Gee, Susan, I’m having a hard time keeping up with the movement. It used to be just LGBT. Now you’ve thrown in a Q. What’s up with that?

  • quiensabe

    Like I said, areyou, you can always be depended on. By the way, you didn’t check Sally’s Tim Tebow post. Check it out.

  • bobbarnes

    Quiensabe, thanks for admitting that it’s your lack of knowledge that is the culprit. That is soon followed by superstition and some bad, preconceived notions.

  • WmarkW


    Are you going to tell me gay men don’t get AIDS at a fifty times the rate of heterosexuals?

  • tony55398

    There is in this world two choices, hate or Love, noncommittal is not a choice.

  • Secular1

    The gall of this contemptible bigot Francis George to equate LGBT to KKK. If any thing it is his institution Catholic Church may aptly compared to those other bigots and racists National Socialists of Germany from last century. This pond scum thinks he getaway with anything, because he has the title of cardinal in front of his name. I have been in this country 35 years. the so called clergy have moved from being more considerate and inclusive and progressively have been coming out in their true colors – narrow minded, bigoted and egotistical.

  • mikestech

    They want the archbishop of Chicago to “resign” because he supports Catholic doctrine. How cute. Cardinal George is absolutely right, and the gay pride community is morphing into something openly hateful of the Catholic Church.

  • Catken1

    You’d hate an institution that sought to bar your marriage, hurt your family, and make your life and your kids’ lives harder and more painful because you didn’t conform to their religious dogma in what is supposed to be a nation with religious freedom.
    There’s no law saying that the Catholic Church must be loved and supported by all, or that its doctrines must never, ever be criticized, particularly when it seeks to force said doctrines on us via the civil law.

  • 617patrick

    The Catholic Church Of Pedophile Protection objects to gays. Fine, but stay away from children.

  • SteveinOhio1

    Oddly, it was Catholic dogma that pushed me away from the church and started me on the road to stop believing superstitions and fairy tales. Yes, the Catholic Church turned me into an atheist. Thank you, Catholic Church!

  • tony55398

    Well George, I think that you should go out and give a hug to the gays that pass your Cathedral.

  • tony55398

    Cardinal George, you may be a Cardinal, but you act more like a hawk.

  • Catken1

    “Are you going to tell me gay men don’t get AIDS at a fifty times the rate of heterosexuals? ”

    Are you going to tell me that straight women don’t get AIDS at far higher rates than lesbians do? Are you starting a campaign to convince women to stay away from sex with men, or are you a hypocrite? (No, it’s not necessary for women to risk themselves in order to breed – carefully screened sperm donation can provide offspring without the need to engage in risky sex with men.) After all, the higher rate of STDs among straight women clearly demonstrates that sleeping with men, for everyone, is neither healthy nor normal.

    Are you going to tell me that somehow telling gay men not to have sex or not to be gay will do anything to prevent gayness or AIDS? (If heterosexuality put you at greater risk of STDs, would you be able or willing to give it up and either remain celibate or only sleep with men, just because you might get sick?) Are you saying that faithful, monogamously married gay men get AIDS at a higher rate than faithful, monogamously married heterosexuals? Perhaps, if you actually cared about gay men, you’d encourage them towards marriage and marital fidelity.

    Are you going to tell me that the morality of an act is related to its disease transmission risks? In which case, you’d better be vegetarian, because the higher risk of parasite infection and heart disease among meat-eaters clearly demonstrates that eating meat is neither healthy nor normal. Kindergartens are clearly neither healthy nor normal – have you seen the rate of disease transmission among those youngsters? It’s a germ pit. Clearly, parents who send their children to school are encouraging immoral behavior, since increased risk of illness is a clear sign of morality, right? People who keep cats have a higher rate of toxoplasmosis than people who don’t – obviously, keeping cats is wrong and perverted!

  • quiensabe

    Most of us are not sure about a lot. Will your community welcome me?

  • alice-belle

    Some of the most decent, loving, hard-working, loyal people I’ve ever had the honor to know are gay. Some of the nastiest, most ignorant, pettiest, misinformed, judgmental lowlifes I had the misfortune to interact with parade their sanctimonious brand of stunted christianity at every opportunity.
    Based on experience over the years I’ll take a gay boss, neighbor, friend, or relative over taliban christians any day of the week.

  • wjmdjm

    The KKK and the Catholic Church ask why don’t negros and gay people know their place.
    Both are hate groups that would love if certain minorities would just fade away.

    Cardinal George is using his position of authority in a powerful organization to deprive the weak and powerless of their basic human civil rights.

    He is no different than the Pharisees who used their religious authority to persecute the poor and vulnerable. The same Pharisees that had Jesus assassinated for speaking up against that injustice.

    Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George is no christian. He is an anti-christian.

    He’s just another self-righteous brain-dead bigot.

  • thebump

    The authoress seems to be as determined as ever to exhibit a spectacular, stunning and stubborn ignorance. Immorality something to celebrate? Thank God for the cardinal archbishop of Chicago doing his duty and speaking truth to such idiocy and falsehood.

  • thebump

    Nonsense. He is doing his duty to speak the truth.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    People who think like you belong in a museum exhibit alongside the neanderthal.

    When I meet a homosexual person I instantly give them an extra measure of respect because I know they’ve faced the slings and arrows of outrageous idiocy their entire lives. A few slow generations from now I don’t know how we’ll even begin to explain to our children how you sky-worshipers were accepted among civilized, thinking humans.

  • thebump

    @XVIIHailSkins: Doubtless you would find it taxing to explain anything involving civilized, thinking humans.

  • thebump

    It must be noted that the authoress also is a tireless apologist for the savage butchery of the abortion industry. Just another indication of the depraved ideology that evidently pervades her institution.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    What a perfectly vapid, meaningless answer.

    Despite your persistent reverence for the sacred value of life, every religious fascist like you is guilty of aborting a perfectly useful mind.

  • catatonicjones

    We’re nearing the end of christian influence in our country, these kinds of christians anyway. You have to expect they’ll revert to their true evil nature before fading out.
    I’m wondering if they’re going to engage in suicide bombings, it’s in the nature of religious fanatics to do this kind of thing. Murdering for God, it’s not like they haven’t done this kind of thing before.

  • catatonicjones

    which have you chosen?

    You forget indifference, just because this argument means everything to you doesn’t force those of us who don’t care … to care. Keep your demands on other people to yourself.

  • catatonicjones

    I’d never let a cardinal touch anybody I cared about …. anybody I didn’t care about for that matter. How many guys has he touched already, I mean, in order to climb that high in the catholic hierarchy …

  • Apoorsinner

    Ms. Thistlethwaite’s comments are extremely naive.

    There have been many problems in San Francisco when their gay pride parade passes a Catholic Church there. Naked men perform sex acts in sight of the church, and others dress as nuns and mock the Catholic Church. Clearly this is what the Cardinal is thinking of.

    Additionally, this whole gay marriage thing is being thwarted primarily by religiouss people, and the largest organization against gay “marriage” is the Catholic Church. If gay marriage becomes legal in this country, it will be at the cost of religious freedom, as we’ve already seen in the states which have passed it.

    Furthermore, the gay Catholic groups you mention are not official Catholic groups, they are dissidents.

    So Cardinal George has plenty of reasons to beware of the gay pride parade coming near a Catholic Church. He’d be a fool to accept your invitation, as it would make it appear as though he were supporting gay marriage, which he certainly does not.

    Contrary to your assertions, all Catholic material I have read on this subject states the Catholic Church’s love for gay people. The Church invites gays home to the Catholic Church, and it says, as it says to all sinners, repent and sin no more, which means to give up all sex outside of one man-one woman marriage. This is what all are called to. That this Church teaching infuriates LBGTQRSTU people is one reason that radical gays are no friends of the Catholic Church and Cardinal George has every reason to be wary of gay demonstrations outside of his churches.

    Charitably, I think this lady’s essays — and she has way too many of them on this liberal “religious” web site — are naive,and uncharitable. I won’t state my uncharitable opinion.
    I think Ms. Thistlethwaithe’s articles are all pretty stupid and insipid.

  • Catken1

    “Naked men perform sex acts in sight of the church, and others dress as nuns and mock the Catholic Church. Clearly this is what the Cardinal is thinking of. ”

    Nudity and public sex are illegal for anyone. Mockery of the Catholic church is not, and it’s not the government’s business to protect your fragile religion from any public criticism or mockery. Deal with it.

    “If gay marriage becomes legal in this country, it will be at the cost of religious freedom, as we’ve already seen in the states which have passed it. ”

    You mean the religious freedom of Catholics to use the civil law force everyone else to abide by Catholic doctrine, and the “freedom” of the rest of us to sit down, shut up, give up our own religious or non-religious convictions, and submit ourselves to Catholic law? That religious freedom?

    Or the religious freedom that results when the civil law is not available for any religion to use to enforce its dogma on those who do not agree?

    “Contrary to your assertions, all Catholic material I have read on this subject states the Catholic Church’s love for gay people. ”

    And if a Muslim fundamentalist group in a majority-Muslim country seeks to bar Christians from marrying, adopting kids, and otherwise forming families, because that would require them to condone idolatry, I expect that you will believe them when they tell you they love you and only want to ensure your salvation?

    Catholics may believe as they choose, but they step over the line when they try to make federal or state governments force everyone to comply with their religious rules concerning marriage. And when you attack other people’s families and marriages, and hurt them and their spouses and kids for no reason other than that they refuse to comply with your religious dogma, you lose all claim to the title “loving”.

  • Catken1

    Yeah, what depraved ideology it is to consider a pregnant woman a full human being who owns her own body parts, rather than a subhuman piece of her fetus’s property.
    Are you willing to allow government to determine when and how you must use your own internal organs to save or support another’s life, without regard for your wishes or any consequences to you, perhaps as punishment for not maintaining lifelong celibacy (or for being raped)? If not, why are you a depraved murderer and a savage butcher? There are living human beings out there who need your body! How dare you withhold it? They might be more innocent and cuter than you!

  • Catken1

    No, immorality – like the Catholic Church’s attacks on other people’s marriages and religious freedom, and their effort to define the morality of marriage by the genitals involved rather than the hearts and minds, and incidentally also their efforts to define women as either submissive virgins or incubating machines who may be treated as property and not people – should not be celebrated.

  • dcrswm

    Spoiler religion =! truth, it is a fairy tale, or ghost story, but definitely not factual.

  • dcrswm

    Beastiality and Pedophilia both consist of one consenting party, Homosexual behavior involves two consenting parties so the argument you are making is invalid

  • thebump

    @Catken, LOL.

  • dcrswm

    First of all you made an argument devoid of facts yet full of logical fallacies so a response did not require addressing points you claimed yet were unable to substantiate with any proof. Second of all if you read your own post you’ll notice only one question was asked, that was the question that was addressed. I however am still waiting for you to offer any proof for the existence of god, jesus, or any of the other spooky ghosts you believe in.

  • dcrswm

    First of all you made an argument devoid of facts yet full of logical fallacies so a response did not require addressing points you claimed yet were unable to substantiate with any proof. Second of all if you read your own post you’ll notice only one question was asked, that was the question that was addressed. I however am still waiting for you to offer any proof for the existence of god, jesus, or any of the other spooky ghosts you believe in.

  • thebump

    Defending the life of innocent human beings is the most basic duty of a civilized society. So yes, society can determine when if ever it is permissible to deliberately take an innocent life.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.