The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) — the official group that represents the Roman Catholic Church in America, headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan – is defunding small, local, and critical non-profit organizations that help minorities and the poor, if they demonstrate support for gay marriage, or any other issue the Catholic Church deems offensive. Through its Catholic Campaign for Human Development fund, the U.S. Catholic Bishops are contacting charities and threatening to pull funding — which can be half a group’s entire annual budget — if they continue to voice support for same-sex marriage equality or women’s health rights, or even if they associate with other groups who do.
It is not necessary for the small non-profits to fund or offer material support to groups who support same-sex marriage, but merely to voice support, sign a letter, join a campaign, or, essentially, “rub elbows” with a group that does. Guilt by association seems to be sufficient cause for an investigation or threatening letter from the Bishops.
“For three years now, Compañeros, a small nonprofit organization in rural southwestern Colorado, has received thousands of dollars from the Roman Catholic Church to help poor Hispanic immigrants with basic needs including access to health care and guidance on local laws,” The New York Times reports:
But in February, the group was informed by a representative from the Diocese of Pueblo that its financing from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops devoted to ending poverty, was in danger.
The problem, the diocesan liaison explained, was Compañeros’s membership in an immigrant rights coalition that had joined forces with a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy group, recounted Nicole Mosher, Compañeros’s executive director.
The Catholic Campaign, which doles out $8 million annually to about 250 groups nationwide, has been under increasing pressure from conservative Catholic groups to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding organizations that run afoul of church positions on issues like birth control and marriage. While the amount lost is often relatively small, it can account for a significant chunk of a group’s budget. And it is not happening in a vacuum, coming at a time when other nonprofit organizations, like Planned Parenthood, also find themselves under fire from social conservatives trying to choke off their financing.
Since 2010, nine groups from across the country have lost financing from the campaign because of conflicts with Catholic principles, according to the campaign’s director, Ralph McCloud. Others have simply chosen not to apply — or reapply — for funds. Mr. McCloud said the Compañeros case was being reviewed and no final decision had been made.
Compañeros was told that unless it withdrew from the coalition, Ms. Mosher said, the group would lose money it got each year.
“I was shocked that our money was all of a sudden in jeopardy, and confused about why,” Ms. Mosher said. “We have no reason to believe that we are in any way going against Catholic teachings. If they are willing to defund our program based on an affiliation, it sends a clear message of divisiveness.”
The Times also points to a vigilante group, The American Life League, who has decided its purpose is to score non-profits and weed out those who might have offered voice — perhaps signed a petition, or joined a coalition — to issues the Vatican does not endorse, namely, abortion and same-sex marriage.
The American Life League releases an annual report highlighting groups getting money from the campaign that it claims have engaged in activities or coalitions contrary to Catholic principles — and the campaign’s guidelines. Last year’s report named 54 groups.
“If you intentionally or errantly fund somebody who signs petitions for same-sex marriageor is supportive of contraception or even abortion, as has happened with C.C.H.D., that has a direct impact on the Catholic faithful and the Catholic Church,” said Paul Rondeau, the American Life League’s executive director.
Related: Late last year, one of the top leaders employed by the Catholic Church in America to advise them on marriage, the USCCB, blamed “the devil” for making people homosexual, and called it a “natural disaster.” He ultimately resigned.
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