This was just published in today's Sacramento Bee. Apparently the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has decided to stop donating to Francis House, an agency serving the California Capitol's most needy residents, simply because the new director of the charity supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento no longer will fund programs at Francis House, a nonprofit agency that serves homeless people, because of its new director's views supporting abortion rights and gay marriage.Sacramento Bee
In a letter last month, the diocese's director of social services said the Rev. Faith Whitmore's public statements on the issues clash with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, said the Rev. Michael Kiernan, the social services director, it is "impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House" as part of its annual Catholic Appeal.
The Catholic Church loves to complain about how it's "religious liberty" is being undermined by the move to full equality for women and LGBT citizens. Apparently that concern for liberty applies only to churches and organizations with similar reactionary policies. This step marks a significant expansion of the Church's actions protesting that move toward equality, and it is extremely troubling. Follow me below the fold for some potential ramifications...
According to the report, the new director has never made public statements about her support for same-sex marriage on behalf of Francis House and the agency itself has no positions on the matter.
Whitmore, a United Methodist minister, took over leadership of Francis House in April after the sudden death of longtime executive director Gregory Bunker.So why defund them?
Within her own denomination, she has been a strong advocate of same-sex marriage. In 2008, during a short period in which gay marriage was legal in California, Whitmore openly defied church law by marrying same-sex couples. She has said publicly that she supports a woman's right to obtain an abortion.
In an interview Wednesday, she called the diocese's decision to discontinue its support "surprising and disappointing."
"I have never represented any of those positions on behalf of Francis House," said Whitmore, formerly the senior pastor at St. Mark's United Methodist Church. "I was speaking as an individual. So for me, this came out of the blue."
Diocesan spokesman Kevin Eckery said the decision to drop Francis House as a beneficiary of the pastoral center's annual fundraising appeal stemmed in part from public confusion about the agency's affiliation with the church. Although Francis House was born at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic parish in Sacramento, it has long been nondenominational and no longer is part of the church.So, because you have failed to make it clear to the public that Francis House is an independent non-proft, you decide to punish the agency, nice.
However, "a lot of people still think Francis House is a Catholic charity," he said, and some are concerned that Whitmore's views are a reflection of those of the church.
Thankfully, the Diocese accounts for a small percentage of the agency's overall budget:
Now in its 42nd year, the organization is one of the largest homeless services agencies in the Sacramento region, serving upward of 25,000 people. It has an annual budget of about $500,000.Still, I can imagine that 5-figure donations don't come in the door every day.
For at least two decades, Francis House has received annual donations from the diocese ranging from $7,500 to $10,000, said Michael Miiller, a member of the agency's corporate advisory board.
We are seeing an really extreme attack on civil liberties, civil discourse and civility itself by the Catholic Church and, as a former member, it really disturbs me. We are seeing adoption agencies close their doors rather than treat gay or lesbian potential parents as full and complete human beings. We are seeing Catholic Diocese, allegedly on behalf of the hospitals and Catholic schools in their areas, refuse to include needed medicine in their insurance plans simply because those medications can also prevent pregnancy (should we tell them that chemotherapy can cause miscarriages?). We are seeing a Church that once fought its perception as a closed, mystical, backwards institution embrace the most extreme positions in order to claim some bizarre sort of moral high ground.
When my Irish ancestors first arrived on these shores, desperately escaping one of the most devastating famines in human history, they were feared and despised as much for their religion as for their ethnicity. Catholicism was seen as the enemy, in large part because it was believed Catholics could not live within a civil society that didn't recognize the supremacy of the Pope. For generations we had a Church that fought those stereotypes, creating a truly remarkable string of charitable and service organizations, ones that helped both Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Heresy, blasphemy, adultery, fornication - all completely contrary to Catholic teaching, were tolerated among the people the Church aimed to serve. Even today the Church does not complain about laws, for instance, that require it to consider divorced-and-remarried people as potential adoptive parents or to provide the same health benefits to employees with those types of marriages.
Suddenly now contraception and LGBT rights are the line in the sand the Church will not cross and the Church is basically extorting the rest of society - "allow us to be bigots or we will stop helping the poor and downtrodden." I really do not recognize the Church in which I was raised.
h/t - towleroad