Cardinal raps Rahm on chicken, marriage and ‘Chicago’s values’

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to have earned the ire of his city’s Roman Catholic cardinal with his strong stance against chicken chain Chick-fil-A.

Cardinal Francis George is outraged by efforts to block the opening of a Chick-fil-A in Chicago over the company head’s strident opposition to same-sex marriage. (Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy had warned that the embrace of same-sex marriage was inviting “God’s judgment on our nation.”)

A Chicago alderman vowed to use his powers to block the restaurant from opening, while Emanuel chimed in by saying that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.” (And Emanuel is standing by his comments.)

Without mentioning either Emanuel or Chick-fil-A by name, George took to the Chicago Archdiocese’s blog and let loose:

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Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?

Many liberals and conservatives alike have objected on civil liberties grounds to municipal efforts to block Chick-fil-A. And the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf accuses Emanuel of hypocrisy given that he worked for two presidents who, at the time (though not now), were not supporters to same-sex marriage. Friedersdorf writes that it “seems awfully cynical to decry gay marriage opponents as unfit for commerce in your city just a few years after you were enthusiastically touting a gay marriage opponent as the best man to run the most powerful executive office in the country.”

Meanwhile, even beyond the issue of gay-Catholic-chicken relations, Emanuel is learning that being mayor of Chicago ain’t easy.

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