Thursday, March 8, 2012

Catholic Diocese Eliminates Financial Support for Homeless Shelter Over Director's Personal Opinion on Gay Marriage

I read a disturbing story over my lunch hour about Francis House (one of Sacramento's largest homeless shelters) and the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Francis House originally started out as a Catholic-run charity, but has long since become a non-denominational charitable organization. The diocese had been pretty generous with its support of this program. This article indicates that the Diocese spends up to $10,000 annually to Francis House.

Actually, the article indicates that the diocese spent up to $10,000 annually to Francis House. Past tense.

They stopped funding Francis House because the current agency director, Rev. Faith Whitmore, supports equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples:
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... In its letter to Whitmore, the Sacramento diocese said it respects the work Francis House does and cannot expect every organization it supports financially to "actively promote Catholic teaching."

"We can expect, however, that they or their leaders not publicly oppose Catholic teaching and that, unfortunately, is the situation in which we find ourselves," the letter reads...

Eckery said he was unsure whether the diocese had received complaints about its donations to Whitmore's agency. "But if we haven't had one yet, we would get one," he said. "We like to get out in front of these things."
Talk about double talk! They don't expect the charities they financially support to promote Catholic teaching, but they will drop you like a hot potato if the charities or their leaders don't promote Catholic teaching.

This is the state of America today. This diocese cannot support an organization that it has supported for years and whose mission it continues to support because its director supports marriage equality. This doesn't have to be Francis House. It could be any homeless shelter with a lesbian board member or free medical clinic with a pro-choice administrator or a food pantry whose volunteer coordinator moonlights as a PFLAG dad.

If they are willing to cut ties with groups because they allow GLBT-affirming leadership, who is to say they won't cut ties because a charitable organization refuses to treat GLBT charity recipients the same as other recipients?

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