As you no doubt have heard by now, lawmakers voted last week to make gay marriage legal in the state of Illinois. The law will go into effect on June 1, and it will make Illinois the 15th state to sanction such unions. What you may not have heard is the religious justifications that lawmakers gave for favoring the bill. The Chicago Tribune reports that some lawmakers quoted recent remarks by Pope Francis as the basis for their vote. The Tribune reports:
Advocates soon received additional help from Pope Francis, who warned that the Catholic Church could lose its way by focusing too much on social stances, including opposition to homosexuality.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Francis said in July.
The comments sparked a wave of soul-searching by several Catholic lawmakers who had battled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sworn duty to represent their constituents who were increasingly supportive of gay rights even as Cardinal Francis George remained opposed.
“As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people,” said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora who voted for the bill after spending much of the summer undecided.
House Speaker Michael Madigan also cited the pope’s comments in explaining his support for the measure.
“For those that just happen to be gay — living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal — who am I to judge that they should be illegal?” the speaker said.
I wonder if Pope Francis considered how his recent words would be used against the teaching of the church. Did he realize how many Roman Catholic lawmakers would use them to advance public policies that contradict Catholic doctrine?