CHICAGO (CNS) — By legalizing same-sex marriage, Illinois lawmakers have changed the definition of marriage and undermined “an institution that is the cornerstone of a healthy society,” the Catholic Conference of Illinois said Nov. 5, the day the Illinois House passed a state Senate bill allowing same-sex marriage.

Their action “goes against the common consensus of the human race — which understands that nature tells us that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” it said in a statement.

The Senate approved the legislation Feb. 14. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Catholic, has promised to sign the measure into law, which will make Illinois the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.


The Catholic conference, which represents the state’s bishops on public policy matters, said it was “deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage. We remain concerned about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill.”

The statement said that “women and men are not interchangeable” and the “optimal condition in which to raise children is a home that includes both a mother and father.”

Church teaching upholds the sanctity of traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, and also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

In 2011 Illinois OK’d same-sex civil unions, which can be converted into marriages once Gov. Pat Quinn signs the new measure.

Some news reports said that at least a couple of Catholic lawmakers, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, cited recent comments by Pope Francis about homosexuals as the reason for their vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

In his July 28 remark to reporters on the subject of gay people, the pope said: “Who am I to judge?” In an interview published Sept. 19 in Jesuit publications, he said he did not want homosexuals to feel the Catholic Church had “always condemned them.”

He said the Catechism of the Catholic Church explained church teaching about homosexuality very well, saying, “one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters.”

But Vatican officials have pointed out that the pope’s comments do not change church teaching on homosexuality.

In 2011, Illinois OK’d same-sex civil unions, which can be converted into marriages once Quinn signs the new measure.

The governor did not specify when he would, but one of his aides said he would sign it by the end of November. In a statement, Quinn said, “Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history.”

Marc Solomon, of an organization called Freedom to Marry, said the Illinois House vote was part of “an absolutely historic year of powerful momentum” for same-sex marriage, and I think it just shows the country is ready.”

Echoing the Catholic conference’s concerns about the measure’s lack of religious freedom protections, was Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. In a statement, he predicted once the law takes effect in June, individuals, businesses and religious groups will be “sued, fined, brought up on charges of discrimination” for any opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Catholic conference thanked “the thousands of citizens across Illinois who joined us in our efforts to preserve marriage in law. This was a truly bipartisan and ecumenical effort, reflective of the fact that a marriage is universally understood as being between a man and a woman.”

In a separate statement, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford said the vote “to redefine marriage in the state of Illinois is truly grievous.”

Same-sex marriage “ignores the unique nature” of an institution “based in the complementarity of men and women and is intimately linked to the procreation and raising of children who have a right to a mother and a father,” he said.

“Our faith teaches us to love all our brothers and sisters made in God’s image and likeness and we are to do so with respect for God’s plan,” said Bishop Malloy, adding that changing the definition of marriage in civil law “does not change God’s plan, nor does it change what our faith teaches.”