Immigrant Rights’ Groups Cut Budgets Because of Loss of Catholic Funds

We reported a few weeks back about the Illinois’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) de-funding of Immigrants’ rights groups because of their support for the state’s marriage equality law.  There was hope that they would be able to raise money from individuals to re-coup the $300,000 of Catholic money that supported their immigration work.


Lawrence Benito

The Chicago Tribune indicates that these groups have started to cut their programs and services because they have been unable to match the cut funds. Only $91,000 has been raised.   The news report notes that the leaders of these organizations are very disappointed, but still stand by their decision to support marriage equality on the principle of justice.  Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights stated:

“We knew there would be some push-back, but we didn’t really fully understand the extent at which this could play out. Our only regret was the process by which we made the decision. Since then … we’ve come to the same conclusion. As an organization dedicated to justice, fairness and equality, we saw this issue as consistent with those principles.”

The CCHD’s decision to take back funding has, however, left many of these immigration leaders bewildered about the Catholic church’s support of immigration rights:

” ‘The groups they’ve chosen to defund are working on a variety of issues in their communities,’ said Jeanne Kracher, executive director of the Crossroads Fund of Chicago, the foundation administering the emergency money. ‘None of them have dropped what they’re doing and exclusively started working on gay marriage. It just seemed odd to say: “Last week we thought you were great but this week, we don’t. ” ‘ “

And Benito, quoted above, said:

“We wouldn’t be where we are today in the fight for immigration reform without the support and partnership of the Catholic Church both locally and nationally. We have consistent values in terms of immigration reform.”

Cardinal Francis George

Cardinal Francis George

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago defended the CCHD with the following statement:

“Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid. He knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the church for political advantage is wrong.”

Not only is his bluntness inelegant, but it also illustrates a trend that another Illinois Catholic official said is operating among the hierarchy around immigration reform and marriage equality.  The Chicago Tribune  reported this bit concerning a national immigration reform bill and its effect on the hierarchy’s position:

“Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed amending the immigration reform bill to include foreign-born, same-sex spouses. Leahy eventually withheld the amendment, but church leaders already felt betrayed.

“Anthony Suarez-Abraham, head of the Chicago Archdiocese’s office for peace and justice, said that after Leahy’s action, U.S. bishops put everyone on high alert for attempts to combine gay rights and immigration reform elsewhere. So when the state’s immigrant rights coalition endorsed gay marriage, it struck a nerve.”

Cardinal George’s blunt tone is uncharitable, at best.  In my opinion, it is statements such as his that Pope Francis may have been referring to when he said that some church leaders were obsessed with gay marriage.  Such crass bluntness is unbecoming of a church leader, and it seems to indicate some over-investment in the topic.  Regardless of how much someone may differ from his point of view, no one deserves to be spoken to so arrogantly.   His comments disregard his interlocutor,  reflect poorly  on himself, and do a great disservice to Jesus and the entire church.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

11 replies
  1. Christine
    Christine says:

    I am not sure that it’s fair to say that the Catholic Church is obsessed with marriage when the reality is that LGBT groups advocate for very little other than marriage. You have got mostly upper-middle-class whites in LGBT groups advocating for marriage but rarely speaking out on behalf of other issues that impact LGBT people, particularly LGBT people who are poor.

    How about if LBGT groups mobilize on behalf of these immigrants? And why is it up to the Church to fund these groups? Where is your responsibility to fund them? Other than the federal government, no group in America gives more money to the poor than the Catholic Church. And that’s not enough?

    Your article does not mention the fact that no one can benefit from Catholic adoption services in Illinois anymore. In other words, your post does not discuss rights that have been taken away from the Catholic Church, but yet you complain that the Church does not give money to the very same people have taken away their rights.

    • pjnugent
      pjnugent says:

      Adoption rights have not been “taken away” from the Catholic Church in Illinois. The Illinois hierarchy (as well as Washington, DC and Boston) have abandon families and children in need of foster care and adoption services! They are holding those families, and now people in need of immigration support, hostage to their political agenda regarding same-gender marriage. Justice is not alive and well among some in the hierarchy.

      As to why is it up to the Church to fund these groups? Perhaps a rereading of Matthew chapter 5 would help. And recall what Jesus said about the sheep and the goats?

  2. Annette Magjuka
    Annette Magjuka says:

    Benedict was clear: he wants a leaner, more dogmatic church. If you disagree with any of the church tenets, good riddance. He openly stated that this is his preference and goal. In other words, he wants a pre-Vartican II church where the flock is passive and obedient. Francis has signaled a different tone, a different way. He is humble and concentrates on the poor. His holy nature is evident. But none of the tenets of the church have changed. No women priests. No gay equality. So right now, the church wants compliance without all the conversations. They want to quietly and humbly fire all GLBT teachers in a relationship, forbid women priests, etc. And that should not be OK with the faithful.

    People have charity fatigue. The giving in the US has shifted tremendously. Giving by corporations and businesses has turned so political. They give to get something specific in return. Individuals are holding on for dear life financially. Even families who have resources to send kids to college, etc–most money is allocated to family needs. As Sr. Simone always says, we need government, corporate and individual giving. Individual giving is never enough.

    The Catholic church is doing harm in the name of God. Denying equality to GLBT people, to women, etc.–this is bad. To defund more in need for the political reasons–that is truly wrong. It is Benedict’s plan. It is being enacted while we are diverted by watching the loving presence of Francis. Somehow this seems even worse than before when Benedict was open about his goals.

  3. Michael Martin
    Michael Martin says:

    I’m catholic but Im finding myself more and more cut off from the church. NOT JESUS, just the crazy nuts who are running his church. They should listen to Pope Francis more

  4. Jayleigh
    Jayleigh says:

    The church has the right to support any charity. I am sure they did not pocket the money they planned to give to that organization. They simply shifted it to some other place that is grateful, and is more in line with the church viewpoints. Wouldn’t you do the same? If you were giving charitable money to something and learned of some moral issue you had with their operation, is it not your right to do so? That is what this story is about. It is blown up to attack the church, but this is standard operations for companies and people alike.

    • Annette Magjuka
      Annette Magjuka says:

      Jayleigh, that is the problem. You would be correct if firing gay people with 20 year tenures at Catholic schools, carrying out a witch hunt against gay people and being political with the intent to stop gay rights was “more in line with church viewpoints.” The faithful–we ARE the church, right? We do not want our church to do these things! The majority of us want our GLBT brothers and sisters to have full rights, and are offended by the church doing these things in our name. We want the church to stop. Why don’t we all do what Jesus says–help the poor, and treat our brother as ourselves?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] of LGBT rights. That same year, funding through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development was withdrawn from an immigrant rights organization because the organization was in a coalition with other […]

  2. […] October 21, 2013: “Immigrant Rights’ Groups Cut Budgets Because of Loss of Catholic Funds“ […]

  3. […] the past few years, we have seen news stories where Catholic leaders have closed adoption services, de-funded immigration rights’ groups, fired teachers and pastoral ministers–all because of not wanting to appear to support […]

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