Each morning, dozens of poor people line up at Francis House, located in Sacramento’s homeless services epicenter, for help with basic services such as housing and transportation. Now in its 42nd year, the organization is one of the largest homeless services agencies in the Sacramento region, serving upward of 25,000 people. It has an an annual budget of about $500,000.
In addition to that, they help people prepare their resumes, search for jobs, obtain birth certificates, offer emergency shelter, and give out hygiene kits.
For serving as many people as it does, $500,000 isn’t a very large budget. But they’ve gotten financial support for over twenty years — up to $10,000 a year — from the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
The Diocese just announced, though, that they’re going to stop supporting the group.
Because the group’s director supports gay marriage and abortion rights.
In a letter last month, the diocese’s director of social services said the Rev. Faith Whitmore’s public statements on the issues clash with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, said the Rev. Michael Kiernan, the social services director, it is “impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House” as part of its annual Catholic Appeal.
Whitmore, a United Methodist minister, took over leadership of Francis House in April after the sudden death of longtime executive director Gregory Bunker.
Within her own denomination, she has been a strong advocate of same-sex marriage. In 2008, during a short period in which gay marriage was legal in California, Whitmore openly defied church law by marrying same-sex couples. She has said publicly that she supports a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.
In other words, she treats all people like they deserve respect and common decency.
Can’t have that in the Catholic Church, can we?
Mind you, Whitmore never married gay couples or advocated for abortion rights in her capacity as director of the homeless agency. Just in her private life. (Not that it should even matter.) But those distinctions don’t matter to the Church.
As you can imagine, there was a *lot* of outrage from Catholics leading to the stoppage of funding:
[Diocesan spokesman Kevin] Eckery said he was unsure whether the diocese had received complaints about its donations to Whitmore’s agency. “But if we haven’t had one yet, we would get one,” he said. “We like to get out in front of these things.”
It’s like he’s saying that with a smile on his face, like he wants to be congratulated for being so darn proactive.
This is another indication that the Catholic Church cares more about promoting their antiquated, bigoted viewpoints than they are helping people and showing love. Last year, dioceses in Illinois refused to provide adoption services because the state (which gave them taxpayer money to do the job) said they had to consider gay adoptive couples as well as straight ones. Instead of embracing the fact that more parents could adopt the children, they abandoned the children entirely.
To paraphrase a wonderful comment offered by Andrew Glasgow to the Diocese spokesperson:
If, as your Bible says, Jesus one days asks you to explain why you failed to feed, shelter, and clothe him when he was hungry, homeless, and in need of clothing, will you tell him, “Because the person who wanted my help to feed, shelter, and clothe you had opinions on issues that had nothing to do with feeding you, sheltering you, and clothing you.”
Jesus will be thrilled, I’m sure.
By the way, since the Church doesn’t want to help out, you can donate to Francis House here.