Friday, October 25, 2013

Support for gay marriage leads Catholic Church to defund immigration groups

After an Illinois immigrant-rights coalition endorsed a proposed gay marriage bill, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development threatened to cut off funding to 11 affiliated groups.

According to The Chicago Tribune, officials overseeing the Roman Catholic anti-poverty program told the groups to abandon the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights or face losing their Catholic funding.

Nine groups gave up grants totaling nearly $300,000.

The marriage bill stalled in the Illinois House after the Senate approved the measure on Valentine's Day. Debate on the issue is expected to return to Springfield on Tuesday as lawmakers reconvene for the fall session.

Jenny Arwade, executive director of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, told the paper that it does not "have a formal stance on marriage equality."

"Our organizational values are that we believe in equal rights for all people," she said. "We were disappointed in the decision. We also believe it's the church's decision to do what they want to do."

Cardinal Francis George, Chicago's archbishop and a staunch opponent of marriage equality, defended the decision.

"Donors to the [Catholic Campaign] give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith," George said in an open letter in July. "Organizations that apply for funds do so agreeing to this condition."

An emergency fund set up to help the struggling groups has raised $91,000 toward closing the nearly $300,000 gap. Gill Foundation and Crossroads Fund are among the groups who have contributed to the Solidarity Fund.

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