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Cardinal warns gay marriage ruling undermines democracy

The Massachusetts Supreme Court's recent decision to reverse the state's ban on gay marriage could undermine people's faith in the democratic process, according to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.

"If this is a democracy, then it is legislatures that make the laws. ... If people don't like the laws, they can recall their legislators," George said. "But we can't touch judges, so it's a dictatorship of judges.

"If that continues, then I think people will lose faith in our own system of government, because it's clearly not democratic."

In its 4-3 decision last Tuesday, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court gave the Legislature six months to rewrite the state's marriage laws for the benefit of gay couples.

George said the state understands marriage to be something less than what the church recognises as a sacrament, and called the decision a terrible error.

Meanwhile, earlier this month the US Bishops began work on a set of guidelines on how to handle relationships with Catholic politicians whose actions in public life are not in accord with church teaching.

The initiative is a response to a new Vatican document on Catholics in political life issued earlier this year.

"It's important for politicians to look at all the issues," commented Cardinal George. "But there are some areas where the moral clarity is so strong that there's no ambiguity. This is the case on the issue of abortion."

Florida Bishop John Ricard said: "We've seen Catholic representatives and judges cavalierly dismiss the witness of Pope John Paul II and the teaching of the catechism on the use of the death penalty."

Cardinal issues warning (Peoria Journal Star 23/11/03)
Bishops begin work on relations with politicians (Catholic News Service/Catholic New World 23/22/03)

Mass. Ruling Boosts Same-Sex Marriage (Associated Press/The Mercury News)
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts: Slip Opinions
US Bishops consider sanctions for politicians (12/11/03)

24 Nov 2003