Catholic Diocese drops homeless funding over director’s gay marriage views

Stephen Gray March 9, 2012
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A Catholic Diocese in California has dropped the funding it gives a homelessness charity citing the new director’s views on abortion and equal marriage rights for gays.

Francis House, a charitable organisation which helps the homeless in the city of Sacramento, had been receiving support from the Church for twenty years.

Out of its annual $500,000 budget, the Diocese sent between $7,500 and $10,000, the Sacramento Bee reports.

But that has changed after its new director, Rev. Faith Whitmore, publicly supported marriage equality and a pro-choice stance on abortion.

Rev. Michael Kiernan, the Diocese’s social services director, told her it in a letter it was “impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House” as a result.

While the letter said it did not expect the charity to promote its views, it could not condone its director disagreeing with them.

It said: “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 reverend, a United Methodist minister said she thought the decision was “surprising and disappointing”.

She told the paper: “I have never represented any of those positions on behalf of Francis House.

“I was speaking as an individual. So for me, this came out of the blue.”

A spokesperson said it was the Diocese’s decision how it spent money donated by churchgoers.

Kevin Eckery told the paper: “Francis House is a great charity, and we respect the fact that the director’s views are different from the diocese’s. But money collected during the annual appeal is very much Catholic parishioner money.

“Why would we ask someone to contribute money to an organization and ask them to overlook all of those things that undermine the church’s teachings?”

Revd. Whitmore said she would stand by her views and said while the funding was “not huge”, it was significant in the funding climate for charities and to the service users.

Michael Miiller of Francis House’s corporate advisory board, told the paper the agency did not ask homeless people for their views on abortion and gay marriage.

He said: “We just help them. But for whatever reason, the diocese made those issues a higher priority than the mission.”

More: Americas, California, Catholic Church, gay marriage, homelessness, marriage, marriage equality, US, US, youth homelessness

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