Christianity,  Politics

Lawmakers cite Pope Francis in support of gay marriage

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?


  • Mary Gray Moser

    You’ll understand, Denny, that I just can’t stand the picture on your site of the same-sex couple atop a wedding cake.. Many Christians post such pictures with their negative writings about same-sex marriage. I just don’t want to see those pictures!

  • Lauren Law

    We have lived with reformed murderers, child molesters, drunkards, prostitutes and speeders in our neighborhoods…and now we will be living with government-sanctioned homosexuality, only they are not reformed from their sinful, illegal actions. I do believe Jesus wants us to love them, but I also believe He wants us to still preach His message to “go and sin no more”. We’ve moved from a society that has questioned Christianity to a society that completely rejects God’s Word and His gift of salvation through Jesus. I am not Catholic, but I hurt for the Pope, because the Bible is clear that those teachers and preachers who lead others astray will be held to a much higher responsibility for their words and actions. I have chosen to love homosexuals…but those who are my friends know that I teach that homosexuality is not God’s intention for their lives. I recently had a gay friend who stated that if his parents hadn’t divorced and he’d been raised by his father, he didn’t believe he’d be homosexual!!! What an admission. I don’t think he realized the implications of what he was saying. We need to pray for those who are being misled by religious leaders who have chosen to embrace popularity and cultural changes instead of the unchanging Word of God. Church growth should not be the reason for loving and embracing sin! The growth of the person’s heart towards God is the reason for loving the sinner!

  • James Bradshaw

    Lauren, the divorce rate is around 30-40% of the heterosexual population. If divorce “caused” homosexuality, then it would be far more prevalent than it is.

    In terms of the government sanctioning “immoral” behavior, it also permits legal divorce and contraception for married couples, both of which are condemned by your Church. Do you think it’s reasonable to expect the law to reflect your beliefs when they are not shared by Protestants or non-Christians (or even amongst all Catholics)?

    Our laws are based on a moral vision, yes, but not upon a distinctly Christian one. After all, murder and theft are crimes in even atheist nations. Our laws and Constitution are derived from a philosophy centered around personal liberty and restraining government powers, not from a particularly Judeo-Christian ethos. In fact, our Constitution expressly forbids both a national religion and making religious belief a test for federal office.

  • petedayton

    First, I think you obviously conflated the anecdote offered by Lauren – she in now way showed a direct link from divorce to homosexuality.
    Second, irregardless of what you or our Constitution or our Government believe is its legal ethos, it doesn’t obviate the truth. God intended His moral laws to be supreme and applicable to all peoples, whether Christian or no.

    • Chris Ryan

      Jesus didn’t intend, espouse, or even suggest that we have a theocracy here on Earth. Otherwise He wouldn’t have said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. The Roman Empire was a thoroughly corrupt, violent, pagan, and evil regime which promoted murder, incest, pederasty, slavery, and genocide, yet Jesus never said a word abt it. Moreover, Paul underscores this in Romans 13:1-2. And then there’s one of my personal favorites, Romans 13:6. So from a NT perspective earthly laws are of little consequence, its all abt personal salvation. As Jesus & the Apostles proved, earthly laws don’t matter as long as we live Godly lives.

  • Ian Shaw

    It would appear that not only lawmakers but the pope himself has fallen into the trap of using single verses from Scripture and not in their full context (clearly taking Matthew 7 verses 1 and 2 and subsequently ignoring verses 3-6 to put it into context)

    What would the pope say if a person is gay, seeks God, has good will (what does this mean anyway?), but yet rejects transubstantiationism as unbiblical? Would he then take issue?

    The pope should be making a distinction that our love for all people cannot be a substiture for also speaking Truth. Must be a mixture of both….a seasoning if you will.

  • Patrick Joseph

    What would the pope say if a person is gay, seeks God, has good will (what does this mean anyway?), but yet rejects transubstantiationism as unbiblical? Would he then take issue?

    Great question. If I understand the pope correctly, he believes all that the Church teaches, which includes transubstantiation and that homosexual conduct is sinful. Ultimately, he would want to persuade people who believe otherwise that the Church is correct on these matters. But he would not judge those people (in either case) as having deliberately rejected God’s Church or God’s Word, as he would have no idea of the obstacles in that person’s life, etc. Consistent with that, Pope John Paul II said we know hell exists, but we do not know there is even one soul in it.

    Denny also asks a great question regarding whether Pope Francis knew his words would be twisted to support legislation such as this. I would speculate that he did, as it is difficult to read anything in the mainstream press that does not twist the Church’s words or teachings and politicians have done the same thing for years. I gather that he believes one of the current priorities of the Church is to show that it is here to aid sinners. His description of the Church as a combat field hospital is part of that. Based on the anecdotal evidence that I have seen in my parish as well as in my discussions with non-Catholic Christians, I believe there are many postives to his approach.

  • Ian Shaw


    Living Goldy lives may indeed come to the point of breaking “earthly laws”. Would you agree that depending on the circumstance, we may be left with 2 options: obey God or man?

    • Chris Ryan

      Hey, Ian, there are Christians across the world which face that choice, Christians in China come to mind. But I don’t think such a situation in the US is likely in the least. In general, I think so long as the Church concentrates on saving souls then the Church will prosper. Christian bakers will have to bake cakes for gay weddings. But OTOH Christian cab drivers have always been required to ferry people to bars and clubs. I don’t see how these things endanger my faith, in fact, they’re opportunities to share our faith.

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