Were it up to some Catholics, the church would become an isolationist sect that has no possibility of communicating or interacting with the non-Catholic public. At least that is the impression given when some Catholic organizations and bishops keep de-funding and criticizing other Catholic groups because they associate with those who support marriage equality.
The latest example is the American Life League, a Catholic pro-life group which is criticizing Catholic Charities USA. The National Catholic Reporter states:
In a video report published July 29 on its YouTube page, the American Life League accuses Catholic Charities USA “of playing the devil’s game of compromise” because its president, Fr. Larry Snyder, sits on the board of trustees of the America’s Promise Alliance, a network formed out of a 1997 summit of U.S. presidents to promote childhood success. . . .
” ‘There’s no mistaking it — the America’s Promise Alliance is promoting homosexual activism and birth control,’ said Michael Hichborn, director of the league’s Defend the Faith project, in the report.
” ‘A Catholic priest has no business compromising Catholic principles by attaching the Catholic name of his $4.6 billion charity to an organization that celebrates birth control and homosexual activism the way the America’s Promise Alliance does,’ Hichborn said of Snyder, who has served as Catholic Charities president since 2005.”
In response to these accusations, Catholic Charities has said:
“Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) follows the teachings and ethical practices of the Catholic Church and as we and other Church institutions have done for decades, we engage in coalitions focused on reducing poverty in our nation. We do this with a mutual understanding that we cannot and will not endorse the public policy statements of any coalition that are inconsistent with our teachings and ethical practices.”
The National Catholic Reporter highlighted some of the LGBT work done by America’s Promise Alliance through the program of designating “best communities”:
“Among those highlighted in the [American Life League] report were four-time recipient Houston/Harris County, Texas, which the league said won in 2010 for giving ‘a homosexual activist organization access to teens in two high schools,’ and six-time winner Bellevue, Wash., which in 2011 won in part because a youth counseling center ‘produced a homosexual propaganda film that won Best Local Film at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.’
“In the descriptions of both communities on its website, the alliance recognized each for other achievements as well: promoting literacy and academic readiness; training mentors to help struggling students stay in school; and establishing a youth court to include their voice in the juvenile justice system.”
The news article also contained other information about the American Life League:
“Earlier this year, the American Life League targeted another social justice wing of the church, the U.S. bishops’ conference’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
“In a June report, Faith in Public Life identified the American Life League as the leading organization among a predominantly conservative coalition campaigning against the anti-poverty program. The groups’ criticisms of the campaign fall along lines similar to what they say about Catholic Charities: that it partners with or funds organizations that in some way support abortion and same-sex marriage.”
Whenever I hear about groups criticizing Catholic organizations for associating with those with whom they may disagree, I am reminded of the Pharisees in the Gospel who accuse Jesus of hanging out with the “wrong” kind of people. To be like Jesus, Catholics need to associate and work with people at all points on the political spectrum in areas where they find commonality.
While I would wish that Catholic groups would strongly support LGBT equality organizations, I recognize that not all are yet ready to do so. But at the very least, those who do want to be connected to such organizations, should have the ability to do so. It’s a Gospel lesson.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry