Illinois Catholic lawmakers cite Pope Francis in decision to back gay ‘marriage’

In its report Wednesday on the Illinois legislature’s passage of same-sex “marriage,” the Chicago Tribune cited two developments since May that helped the bill’s backers get the final votes they needed: the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling and Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality.

The paper quotes two Catholic state representatives who cited Pope Francis in explaining their decision to support the measure: Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan reportedly also secured between five and 10 additional votes to redefine marriage.

The papal comments at issue came in an interview with reporters in July on Pope Francis’ flight back from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” the pope said.

According to the Tribune, those comments “sparked a wave of soul-searching by several Catholic lawmakers who had battled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sworn duty to represent their constituents who were increasingly supportive of gay rights even as Cardinal Francis George remained opposed.”