Catholic World News

In Red Mass homily, Cardinal George rues HHS mandate, abortion, same-sex marriage

October 12, 2012

In his recent Red Mass homily, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told the assembled lawyers and judges that the HHS mandate, same-sex marriage, and abortion are three instances in which “the law itself is, as positive law, [is] a cause of scandal, instances where the law abuses its own purpose and nature.”

Recalling that Jim Crow laws “survived into my boyhood,” Cardinal George preached:

The first instance of legal scandal is the much-discussed HHS health care mandate. This has little to do directly with the morality or immorality of contraceptive sex or of bodies neutered by sterilization; it has everything to do with law claiming a fictitious authority to determine what is religious and what is not. It is a scandal that the law is being used against the common good of a free society. It is a tragedy that legal authority itself is being abused and turned to an evil end.

The second instance of legal scandal is the much-discussed proposal to use civil law to re-define the nature of marriage. This has little to do directly with the morality or immorality of homosexual genital relationships; it has everything to do with the civil law claiming fictitious authority over a natural institution that it did not create and has no right to change.

Marriage has been what it is long before either the Church or the state came into existence; it is based on the natural sexual complementary of two genders. Marriage will remain what it is long after our present legal system and governmental institutions pass into history.

It is a scandal now that the law is being used as a formal or procedural device against the substantive common good of society. Abstract legal equality is being used to subvert relationships given us in nature itself.

The third instance of legal scandal is the too long discussed issue of the legal status of unborn children in our society. The scandal here lies not in the law overreaching, as in the case of religion and marriage, but of the law defaulting on its very reason for being: to protect from physical violence those who have no other protection but the law.

This has little to do directly with the crime of directly killing a human being; it has everything to do with civil law de-legitimating itself by delivering up the most vulnerable among us to the decisions of those upon whom they should be able to depend to protect them. We rightly decry street violence; but the difference between destroying unwanted children on the streets and destroying them in the womb is just a matter of a few years. Children learn their lessons well, and it is a scandal that the law has been turned on its head and betrays its own vocation to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“Scandalously, our legal system no longer protects significant minorities: unborn children, Catholics and their institutions who would like to continue to enjoy the freedom we used to take for granted; those who continue to hold what the common sense of the human race has always held: marriage is based on the sexual union of a man and woman, an opinion we’ve now been told is no longer that of the majority and therefore need not be respected or protected in law,” Cardinal George added.

“What is left now to our common life is whatever a legislative majority or the often-manipulated whims of popular majority opinion will tolerate. That is no longer a classical Constitutional legal order. The law has betrayed its own vocation.”


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  • Posted by: msorensen71798 - Oct. 14, 2012 1:06 AM ET USA

    Justin: I'm happy that you're going to heaven. But I'm still worried. I'm worried that this culture's descent is taking with it many souls that would otherwise have heard the Word, and been able to choose the good. Parents have always had an uphill battle against the ways of the world to protect their childrens' souls, but that battle becomes increasingly difficult - approaching impossible - when relativism is so pervasive. So, as for me and my house, we will continue to fight the evil around us

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 12, 2012 8:11 PM ET USA

    We are always free whether the legal system or the government says we are or not. As long as we keep in a state of grace with our hearts and minds resting in God no one can take that freedom away. We should put no faith in men, in governments, in politics or legal documents. There is no need to be alarmed even though on a certain level things are going downhill. When seen through the lens of eternity all this is passing and we are that much closer to Heaven. No worries folks.