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Catholic Anti-Poverty Organization Defunds Local Non-Profit Over Support for Marriage Equality

Post submitted by Diane Martin of HRC's Religion and Faith Program.

Catholic church pewsThe Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an anti-poverty organization affiliated with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), cut off funding for an immigration rights group in Illinois after it voiced support for marriage equality and benefits for same-sex couples as part of comprehensive immigration reform.  The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), a member of the Illinois Unites for Marriage Coalition, received between $25-30k annually from CCHD to aid poverty stricken neighborhoods in Illinois. However, they will no longer receive this funding from CCHD so long as they continue to support equal rights for same-sex couples.

Local Catholic laity is pushing back against the CCHD’s decision and published an open letter criticizing CCHD.  The letter reads, in part: “We write to you as loyal and proud Catholics to urge in the strongest possible terms that you rescind this threat. This action is not worthy of the church we know, love and respect.”  Amongst those who signed the letter are Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Larry Suffredin; Chicago aldermen James Cappleman, Patrick O’Connor, Proco “Joe” Moreno, and Danny Solis; City Clerk Susana Mendoza; and retired Cook County Judge Maureen Durkin Roy.

Despite criticism, the Archbishop of Chicago has stood firmly in support of CCHD.  Especially in the wake of Pope Francis’ remarks on tolerance of the LGBT community, many local Catholics are questioning why CCHD and the Chicago diocese are prioritizing opposition to marriage equality over helping poor and immigrant families in the area.  Indeed, some claim that the diocese is using poor immigrants as "pawns in a political battle."

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