Cardinal George: Religious Freedom Is Being 'Traded Off' for Sexual Liberation

July 18, 2014 - 2:08 PM

Cardinal Francis George

Chicago Cardinal Francis George celebrates Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France on May 2, 2013. (Archdiocese of Chicago)

(CNSNews.com) - The Archbishop of Chicago is warning Americans that their religious freedom is “being traded off in favor of freedom of sexual expression” via birth control and gay marriage.

“What has happened to our vaunted American liberties?” Cardinal Francis George asked in a June article in the archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic New World, as part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Fortnight for Religious Freedom project.

“Except for property rights, they are all being traded off in favor of freedom of sexual expression," Cardinal George said.

“That ‘freedom’ has become the trump card in almost every social dispute,” he added. “While the public conversation plays the game of liberal versus conservative, there is really only one issue: freedom versus tyranny, a tyranny masquerading as compassion and suppressing legally differences that seem to threaten abstract ‘equality.’”

Cardinal George also reiterated his 2012 prediction that faithful Catholics would “close down” nonprofits rather than violate Church teaching under the HHS contraceptive mandate.

“The issue has clustered around the [contraceptive] mandate that insists that any institution serving the public must treat women’s fertility as an enemy to be suppressed for the sake of women’s freedom,” said the cardinal. “In fact, the government has made many exceptions to this rule, but has steadfastly refused to exempt Catholic institutions.”

“We are afraid that the institutions that perform the works of mercy that have been integral to the church’s mission for centuries will be forced to become, effectively, government institutions, given permission to exist only if they do not act as Catholic,” he continued.

“At stake are Catholic hospitals, Catholic universities and Catholic social services, precisely as Catholic,” Cardinal George argued. “At stake also is a society that once permitted many different voices and faiths to contribute to the common good without compromising their collective conscience.”

Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate forces Catholic nonprofits such as the Eternal Word Television Network and the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for birth control through their health insurance. The only exceptions are for houses of worship and religiously-affiliated organizations that allow third-parties to pay for contraception.

But Catholicism forbids using and promoting artificial birth control, as stated in Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Catholic nonprofits are thus suing the government to get a reprieve from the law.

The cardinal also connected the decline of American society with the lack of respect for traditional sexual norms, urging Americans to safeguard their freedom by preserving the natural family.

“The imposition of a definition of marriage that destroys the natural meaning of marital union is becoming another test case for religious liberty,” the cardinal noted.

“The law now holds that men and women are interchangeable in marriage, as if children did not need both a mother and a father to be born and raised with some security. These are laws that mark societies in decline, demographically as well as morally.”

In the end, the cardinal warned America that sexual liberation, which undermines society's basic institution, the family, could lead to “historical failure.”

“Independence from foreign government does not necessarily mean that people will be free under their own government. People can freely create a state that destroys a free society,” he said.

“Americans...are concerned with the loss of our place in the world, and rightly so. We should also be concerned that we are on the wrong side of what nature teaches us and therefore, at least over the long run, headed for historical failure.”