Skip to main content

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.

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.

Sacramento Bee

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.

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."

So why defund them?
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Still, I can imagine that 5-figure donations don't come in the door every day.

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

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Former Catholic here (14+ / 0-)

    This is exactly the reason why.  Spent 12 years in Catholic school where I went to church for our first class every day up til eighth grade.  That is church six out of seven days (had to go on Sunday!) from first to eighth grades.  

    Guess what?  THIS is not what I learned in Catholic school.  Love your brother (unless you don't like him) wasn't taught when i went to school in the 60's and 70's.  

    I believe it is well past time for churches to lose their tax-exempt status.  

    •  I don't see what's outrageous about it (6+ / 0-)

      Aren't they allowed to donate to whomever they wish?  Does MoveOn donate to anti-choice people?  Of course not.

      I would be surprised to find that they DIDN'T stop funding them.

      •  I agree (5+ / 0-)

        I see nothing outrageous about the Catholic Church (or any institution) deciding to not fund any organization not consonant with its own ideals.  Had they never funded Francis House at all, would that be problematic?

        And it's not like the Church doesn't aid anti-homelessness efforts in other ways.

        •  But they DID choose to fund it... (6+ / 0-)

          They recognized the need and felt strongly enough about it to decide to help fund it, and now they are choosing not to help fund this organization because they are more concerned about their image than continuing to help those that rely on Francis House.  

          I find that pretty outrageous.  /shrug.

          That said, yes, they are free to choose who they want to help.  Just as others are free to find it a shitty thing to do.

          "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." ~Maya Angelou

          by abbysomething on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:43:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's nonsensical imo (0+ / 0-)

            It might piss you off, but it's hardly an OUTRAGE! like was trumpeted in the title.

            Would you be as outraged to find a Unitarian church that stopped funding a program because it had decided to NOT help a girl get an abortion?

            Somehow, I think your outrage would be a bit more muted.

            •  Wow. What a ridiculous comparison. n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." ~Maya Angelou

              by abbysomething on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:22:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

              Actually, this is the heart of religious freedom in the US, the ability of religious organizations to fund things that agree with that organization's beliefs.

              If the church is being hypocritical, well then you have the right under the first amendment to say so.  But, frankly, of all the churches out there, the Catholic church is a leader in homelessness funding.

              This is completely in line with things the Catholic church has done before like forbidding its pro-choice and pro-gay marriage members from taking communion.

              It's stupid from a broader public relations point of view.  But the church has the right to be stupid.  It also has the right to have millions of its members the world over just ignore edicts in these areas, but it has the right.

      •  MoveOn is not a religious org (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Its members come from all backgrounds.

        "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

        by zenox on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:03:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is relevant how? (0+ / 0-)

          Catholics come from all backgrounds, by the way.  All races.

          •  I meant all religious and nonreligious (0+ / 0-)

            ...backgrounds. We are speaking in terms of "religion." That means MoveOn is a "non religious" organization. Catholics, meanwhile, are all "Catholic."

            Now if you still cannot see the "relevance," then...God help us all.

            "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

            by zenox on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:00:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So you think a religious org should be forced to (0+ / 0-)

              fund something that goes against their beliefs?

              Muslims orgs should have to fund something that they disagree with? Hmm?

              And Jewish orgs should have to fund something that they disagree with?

              And Buddhist orgs should have to fund something that they disagree with?

              Somehow I doubt you've thought that far ahead.  The implications of what you're endorsing are far-reaching and dangerous to democracy.

              •  nobody is asking them to do this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                as I understand it, the 'shelter' is doing what is has long done, no more no less.

                The ONLY change is that the director in her personal capacity has beliefs the catholic church doesn't go for - not that she claims to speak for the shelter on this area.

                Catholics busy shooting themselves in the foot, again.  The believers are better people than their heirarchy deserves, imho.  

                •  Immaterial whether she claims to speak for the (0+ / 0-)

                  shelter.  The shelter hired her.  The Church disagreed.  The shelter hired her anyway.  The Church pulled funding.

                  Your outrage is without basis.

                  •  whose outrage? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I don't recall expressing any.

                    To say that I disapprove of the Catholic policies here is an understatement - and I have every right so to do.  You would it seems disagree with me - and who is saying that you don't have the right so to do.

                    I could also have expressed outrage; but I didn't.  

                    You were not paying much attention when you read my comment, were you?  Busy being outraged at other's outrage.....?

              •  That's a straw man. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Francis House does not believe in gay marriage or abortion.

                They are choosing not to fund Francis House because they disagree with the director's personal beliefs that have not manifested themselves in anyway in her work at Francis House, that we have heard or seen or is alleged.

                What the Church has said here is they will not work with other groups of faith toward a common goal, helping poor and homeless, if anyone in the organization does not share Catholic beliefs.

                Well, maybe that is not so much outrageous, just really sad for Catholics. Guess they are done working with birth control users too.

      •  The Diocese can donate to whomever it wants (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        abbysomething, JAM11

        but Catholic charities (small "c" and capital "C") often have provided funds, personnel and material assistance to other groups needing assistance because it is the right thing to do.  This is most evident in non-Western (and mostly not Catholic) nations, but is also shown in support of scouting, local donations to food banks, local materials and personnel support to the Red Cross, etc.

        Catholic entities have a long history in this country of supporting "non-Catholic" efforts.  Singling out one organization for the views of its executive director smacks of some grandstanding....makes me wonder if the Bishop of Sacramento needed a "look over there at that shiny object, and not over here!" moment.

        BTW, with the increasing number of abandoned Catholic churches, schools,school ball fields, hospitals, homeless shelters, etc. in the United States, the Catholic hierarchy better get used to their old nomenclatures (like Franics!) being used by others!  

        •  The tradition of the Catholic Church (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Progressive Mom, aitchdee, Ahianne

          in America used to embrace social justice.  That meant they served the poor, the sick, workers and others in need of justice.

          It's true they aren't obligated to fund anyone.  But to break with championing those in need to serve a GOP agenda seems to go against what they preached for decades.

          And they wonder why people of conscience are abandoning the Church.  Just as they can choose whom to support, so can we the laity.

          Money talks and mine is chatting with more worthy charities these days than the Catholic Church.

          Voting is like driving. Choose (R) to move backward. Choose (D) to move forward.

          by JAM11 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 10:55:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why not simply make known that the reason the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        archdiocese supports Francis House is that they do an excellent job in caring for Sacramento's homeless?  

        Everyone would understand that the Methodist minister's views are not the position of those of the Catholic Church.  Situation solved.  The homeless get to eat, Francis House gets to serve and the Catholic Church keeps their theocratic views intact.

      •  Charity vs. political organization (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        MoveOn is a specifically political organization, supporting a specific political movement. The Catholic Church is supposed to be representing Christ on this earth, and, as far as I can recall from my religious training, the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth did not make arbitrary political distinctions when he, you know, healed people and stuff.

        More importantly, how can anyone know to which organizations the Catholic Church will now donate? After all, the director of Francis House is a woman and  a Protestant - and the last I checked the Church was not big on women in leadership roles or the validity of the Protestant heresy. Somehow, though, they have no problem with Rev. Whitmore's gender or religious lifestyle choice, only that she believes in the equality of women and LGBT citizens. Why are those sins so horrible?

        There is no legal issue here, of course, merely a moral one. The Catholic Church is free to donate to whom they want, but when the same leadership works hand-in-hand with Mormons - who belong to a pseudo-Christian cult, according to the nuns and priests who taught me - in order to deny LGBT citizens equal rights, I call bullsh*t on the "religious liberty" crap.

        If the Catholic Church wants to be a political organization, so be it, but it should not be getting tax-exempt status as an organization meant to help the downtrodden via social services.

        A government that denies gay men the right to bridal registry is a facist state - Margaret Cho

        by CPT Doom on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:25:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This not supporting "anti choice" people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        this is refusing support for a homeless shelter they previously funded because their cassocked knickers are in a political twist.

        And if you think that was uncivil, let me mention I cleaned up my first reaction, in which the phrase "cassocked sons of bitches"  featured prominently.

        Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at Texas Kaos.

        by boadicea on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:50:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I went at the same time (8 years - first through (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      8th).  I don't even recognize it as the same institution it was back then.  We were not only not taught hate, we were taught about other religions, and how we had to respect them because we all honored the same God.  I say put the nuns in charge.  Somehow I think they could find their way back if they did.

      "They love the founding fathers so much they will destroy everything they created and remake it in Rush Limbaughs image." MinistryofTruth, 9/29/11

      by AnnieR on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:45:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same here sas, I think they should lose all tax (0+ / 0-)

      exemptions because they support pedophiles !!!!!!!

  •  Do you have a donation link? (8+ / 0-)

    Sounds like progressives need to have Francis House's back.  Let the Catholic church go back to the Dark Ages, they don't have to drag the rest of us back there with them.

    When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:42:36 AM PST

  •  Well At Least You're a Former Member (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a shame the church has any money to give or withhold, but as long as people are willing to keep feeding the beast they're going to be able to do what they want with it. In the long run Francis House is probably better off without any of their money attached to the Cassock Strings.

  •  The Catholic Diocese is a bully. (8+ / 0-)

    Since Catholic bishops don't get their way every time, they will try anything -- like Catholic Bishop George in  Chicago saying they might have to pull out of Catholic hospitals because of contraception.

    It seems to me that the catholic church is run by stunted, frustrated, angry, under developed men who lack humanity.

    Their Christ was not like this.

  •  Their RW Agenda Is Making Them Fit the Caricature (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, nellgwen, a2nite, Hastur, AnnieR

    that kept them ostracized by American conservatives for so long in the past.

    But then, that's conservatism isn't it?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:48:18 AM PST

  •  Donate here (5+ / 0-)

    Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon. Masahide

    by bws on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:50:11 AM PST

  •  Doesn't Catholic Charities (0+ / 0-)

    [or catholic appeal, or bishops appeal--i've heard
    it called by a variety of names]

    receive government funding, too?

    How do they get around this obvious discrimination
    and not lose that funding? [she asked rhetorically.]

    Ah, the ole Religious Freedom thing.

  •  I was also raised a Catholic (5+ / 0-)

    I 'left' the Church in the '80's- when I realized that I didn't support or believe hardly any of its teachings.

    I am a happy Lutheran now.

    One aspect of the Church's reach that really bothers me is that for all their rhetoric over contraceptives and LGBT- why aren't the bishops being as loud and vocal on other issues- like health care, the death penalty, and income inequality.

    It seems that if history does repeat itself- we could be heading for the second Inquisition.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:53:40 AM PST

  •  Not an outrage (5+ / 0-)

    nor is it a really extreme attack on civil liberties, civil discourse and civility itself. Rather, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento is exercising its freedom of choice and association.

    Regrettable as it is, the Francis House is in no way entitled to the donation, nor is the Diocese required to justify its choices.

    •  I am always outraged (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redlum jak

      when someone does not want to associate with someone else because of their belief in equal rights or free choice.

      I am not suggesting the church should not have that "right" to shun whoever they want, but I can be outraged by it and I am.

  •  The Church's help has always been poisoned. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pinto Pony, dewley notid

    The fewer people they "help," the better off we all are.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:02:03 AM PST

  •  Let's fill the gap! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    A couple of years ago, the Portland Maine diocese withdrew money from the Preble Street homeless aid group.  Made a donation to Preble Street to help make up the difference.

    We can do the same thing for Francis House.  Donate to Francis House here.  Make the donation on behalf of the Reverend Michael Kiernan.


    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:43:09 AM PST

  •  So Catholic charities only support those whose (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redlum jak

    political beliefs are in line with theirs'.  And they still get tax exempt status because they do good things?  I say when you involve yourself in politics as deeply as the Catholic Church is immersed, your tax exempt status needs to be removed.  Can someone, anyone, talk me down from my reasoning.  Am I missing something important here?

    "They love the founding fathers so much they will destroy everything they created and remake it in Rush Limbaughs image." MinistryofTruth, 9/29/11

    by AnnieR on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:43:09 AM PST

  •  Is it any wonder that I'm no longer Catholic? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Frmr Sac Bishop Frank Quinn resides at Francis (0+ / 0-)

    House, a facility for low income seniors.  The Vatican (as opposed to the American Church) has lost its mind.

    Why do Democrats still persecute gays? Is a vote for Democrats a wasted vote? I voted for change. Where is my vote?

    by SGWM on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:15:14 AM PST

  •  Irony (0+ / 0-)

    It is ironic, that the author is outraged because has freely made a financial decision based upon their own belief system.

    Yet, I guess -- the author supports the President's recent decision to require organizations - even those with moral qualms - to provide insurance with free abortions, contraception sterilization included as part of the insurance package.

    So - a group making a free choice about how to distribute their charitable funds is bad; and having the government mandate that the same group do something which is against their moral code is good.

    Note, no one is saying people can't get a full range of OB/GYN services - just that if you have a moral or religious conflict you shouldn't be made to subsidize choices you find to be immoral.

    Some serious twists in logic going on here.

    •  Damn Straight I support the President (0+ / 0-)

      I do not think that employers should have the right to deny medically necessary services to their employees because those same services might be used in cases for which they don't approve - just like I support mandates to cover diabetes treatments even if the employer believes that gluttony is a sin.

      And the Church is pretty damn capricious as to where it's "belief system" is offended. This is, as I point out in the diary, the same organization that has teamed up with heretics in the Evangelical and Mormon "churches" to attack innocent LGBT citizens. And the same Church has no problem treating members of these false religious lifestyles equally to Roman Catholics when those people are employees. Somehow it is fine to the Church if you choose to worship a false god, but it's not ok to think gay and lesbian people are humans? You see no reason for moral outrage here?

      Let's say a Baptist group refused to fund a secular homeless shelter because they hired a Roman Catholic director - would you also be ok with a church abandoning their commitment to charity because a dirty papist was running the show? I can only imagine outrage if that were to occur.

      A government that denies gay men the right to bridal registry is a facist state - Margaret Cho

      by CPT Doom on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:56:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For me, the odd juxtaposition (0+ / 0-)

      Outrage because a religious organzation pulls financial support from an organization whose leader publically espouses positions that they are diametrically opposed to.

      Meanwhile, numerous diaries on this site have included urgent requests for us to threaten to pull financial support from charitable organizations who happened to have been given free air time on Rush's show.

      I have to wonder if the Catholic Diocese might also have received some threats from their constituency to withhold donations if they don't disassociate themselves from Rev. Whitmore.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:38:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey Diarist :) (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a donation link to Francis House, an excellent organization doing great work with homeless people and at-risk populations in and around Sacramento. Great diary, thank you so much for posting it!

    God bless our tinfoil hearts

    by aitchdee on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:04:04 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site