Sacramento Diocese Decision to Withdraw Shelter Funds Begs the Question: Whose Money Is It, Anyway?

A little over a week ago, the Catholic diocese of Sacramento withdrew their funding of  Francis House, a very effective social service agency which serves homeless people in that city.  The reason for this decision is that the center’s new director, Rev. Faith Whitmore, a United Methodist minister, has publicly supported abortion rights and marriage equality.

The Sacrmento Bee, which first reported this story notes Rev. Whitmore’s response:

” ‘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.’ “

The same news story carries the comments of the diocese:

“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. . . .

” ‘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,’ said Eckery.”

Acknowledging that the money belongs to parishioners is noteworthy, however, it should also mean that diocese should have inquired of the parishioners if they wanted to fund Francis House.

The reason that they didn’t do so may be because the diocese doesn’t actually believe this to be true.  Later in the article, the same diocesan spokesperson is quoted as saying:

” ‘It’s the diocese money, and they get to decide how to spend it,’  he said.”

So, whose money is it anyway?

An interesting comment in this article highlights the corner that diocesan officials are painting themselves into:

” ‘Clearly the bishops have been very vocal on their views about some of these issues,’ said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Catholic priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

” ‘But if the bishops are going to defund every organization headed by someone who disagrees with their views on gay marriage, birth control and abortion, they are going to find very few agencies to fund.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


0 replies
  1. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    All Catholics — not just LGBT Catholics — need to demand an independent, public audit showing all funds expended on anti-LGBT initiatives. Until that happens, church officials will continue demanding parisioner contributions for charities, getting the government to funds those charities, and then using parishioners’ funds to oppress LGBT people everywhere, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

    • Norm Silver
      Norm Silver says:

      I agree totally. We had a fund to construct and built a new Parish Center facilty. Three years later after that was completed we built a new Sanctuary we converted to old “daily Chapel” into a Parish Kitchen. Again we had a fund drive. In that case no revelations were made as to how much was collected nor how much was spent on this new badly needed facility. To date; no accounting, no accountabilty and now we have a new priest from offshore and he has blown up the full electronc faciliy control system and we are being asked to organize another fund drive. For what purpose. What happened to the last “Fund” for the new kitchen? How much will it be to replace the blown up Main Frame to the electronic system. The Parish operates on money. Right now this Parish isn’t seeing any of mine. It goes to another Catholic Diocese in total. The Parish Financial Satement tells me nothing. I took it a Catholic CPA who agrees with my opinion. Where is the money going? Why no transparency??

      • Ned Flaherty
        Ned Flaherty says:

        When even a Catholic C.P.A. can’t decipher anything, that in itself is, in a twisted way, a type of transparency (though not the type that’s needed).

        Roman Catholic financial statements tell only one thing: everything you want to know and need to know and deserve to know has been squirreled away so that you’ll never know it, never be able to compare years to other years, and never be able to summarize multiple lower-level statements (e.g., 68 American states, districts, and territories) into the next higher level statement (e.g., U.S.A. as 1 nation).

        The accounting profession has hundreds of time-tested standards that prevent individuals, corporations, governments, and non-profits from doing exactly what the RCC always does. The solution is to apply those professional standards uniformly and universally, so that every RCC financial statement can be laid alongside every other statement, and so that all can be compared and understood without any special vocabulary or euphemistic phrasing (e.g., a papal vacation is a paid, non-work holiday, not a “Holy Retreat”).

        The RCC’s financial statements will never achieve validity or truthfulness until the music and incense, bells-and-smells, and Latin theatricality are all removed.


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