On the first day of 2013, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George issued a letter to priests state-wide, urging Catholics to inform their state legislators of their opposition to same-sex marriage, the legalization of which is to be introduced in the coming days.
"Civil laws that establish 'same sex marriage' create a legal fiction," George wrote in a letter sent to priests on Jan. 1, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible," George continued.
"Good pastoral practice encourages families to accept all their children and not break relationships with them," George added in the letter, urging Catholics not to alienate members of the gay community, even though they should oppose homosexual practices.
George's comments come days before state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) are expected to introduce same-sex marriage legislation in the upcoming legislative lame-duck session.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have both voiced their support for the upcoming bill. Additionally, U.S. President Barack Obama recently expressed his approval of the legalization of same-sex marriage in his home state of Illinois, pushing lawmakers to pass a measure early next month which would make the Prairie State the 10th in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
"While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect," White House spokesman Shin Inouye recently told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the president still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally," Inouye added.
Should the upcoming January legislation pass both Senate and House, Illinois will become the first Midwest state to approve same-sex marriage by legislative vote.
In his Tuesday letter, George provided priests the opportunity to publish the letter in their respective church bulletins this upcoming weekend.