Guess Why a Catholic Diocese Doesn’t Want to Help a Homeless Shelter? March 11, 2012

Guess Why a Catholic Diocese Doesn’t Want to Help a Homeless Shelter?

Francis House, a non-profit group in Sacramento, does a lot of amazing work:

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.

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  • gski

    The way they ignore his teachings the catholic church must consider itself above jesus.

  • Ah, the Catholic Church. Always good for a little – wait, a lot – of close-mindedness & conservatism.

  • When people tell me that religion is responsible for more charities and non-profit organizations that help people in need than any other group, I like to tell them that they’re also responsible for the closing down of more charities and aid because of the beliefs of that same religion. The homeless, the poor, the hungry, the sick… they are all held hostage over petty disagreements in philosophy or dogma. It’s pathetic.

    Religion, a force for good in the world? Only when things are going their way.

  • roe jussian

    Surprise, surprise. When I was in Catholic school, I had a textbook for a class about “Social Justice”, and one of the examples of “justice” involved a Senator that supported abortion giving a donation to his Catholic high school, and the proper response to that donation was rejecting it because of his views.  The principle was that the ends don’t always justify the means, and I guess the Catholics decided to apply it again here, except I guess giving aid to 25,000 people doesn’t justify doing the transaction through someone whose personal beliefs conflict with their own. Stupid fucking people…

  • Erp

    I wonder if the fact that she is a female priest also clashed with the Catholic Church’s views.  Or that she is a Methodist, another clash. 

  • Johnk

    I’ve heard of religious organizations withholding funding from organizations that go against its beliefs. (As every organization does, including atheist groups) But I’ve never heard of them being responsible for “closing down” charities and aid – do you have any examples of that? 

  • Is anyone surprised at this point by an organization whose leaders take a vow of poverty yet the head leader sits on a gold throne in a palatial mansion? 

  • OK, we were able to raise $40K for Jessica’s scholarship.

    What would it take to match the $10,000 the Diocesis is not contributing anymore?

    I think this is a perfect chance to put our money where our moth is and show that as atheists we are able and willing to help our fellow human beings while at the same time reach across the faith divide.

    I have $40 ready to go. It’s all I can afford for now because my wife has been out of a job for the past 3 years and only last Friday she was hired again. But it’s a start. 

    I also live in Sacramento, so if necessary I will be happy to go talk to these people and see if they would be willing to work with us. 

    I think this is a great chance to help others and at the same time make more of an impact that many billboards. I want to see Fox news spin this one.

  • Anonymous

    But this isn’t about the organization’s beliefs or principles. It’s about its director’s private opinions. The two are completely unrelated.

    And yes, the Catholic Church has closed entire charities because they didn’t want to follow the law while taking government money. They’ve done this repeatedly. Last time in Illinois

  • Joshdcarp

    I agree, although I think it would be better for Hemant to start up a fund, like he did with Jessica, and then donate all the funds at once rather than piecemeal from all of us.

  • SteveS

    But, the catholic church has $57 million to buy the crystal cathedral. Something about rich men, camels , and needles… 

  • But apparently the end justifies the means when it comes to relocating child molesters around the country to avoid scrutiny, scandals and punishment…
    So the Catholic Church is hypocritical. Well, would you look at that, here’s my surprised face: 😐

  • Nordog

    “In other words, she treats all people like they deserve respect and common decency.”

    Unless they are unborn people.

  • Erp

    Different diocese.    I note that the local LGBT community among others is rallying to replace the lost funding.

    The bishop might be particularly upset because Francis House started as a local Catholic parish project but is  independent (now obviously so given the new director).  Perhaps he felt the diocese was and should be getting full credit for the charity despite giving only about 2% of the budget.  I wonder if he is putting pressure on the one Francis House board member who also seems to be an employee of the original parish.

  • observer

    For those of you who think complaints against this decision will be rallied as an “attack on religion”, stand on your heads.

  • Annie

    I’m in!

  • Chalice58

    A bunch of cells is not a person.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    On Fox News tonight, our top story: “Why Are Atheists Trying To Bribe The Homeless?” How this new atheistic tactic is destroying America, and how it affects you. That’s tonight, on the No Spin Zone!

  • StarStuff

    Well, good.  The more positive things done without the church’s involvement the better.

  • Johnk

    in that case it’s the government who is responsible for forcing the closings. A typical situation is when the catholic church is running a charity, sometimes for decades, and they are suddenly told that they must do something that goes against their beliefs, so their only choice is to close down. (You would not do something that went against your beliefs, either). Keep in mind, they have often been allowed to operate in a way that is within their beliefs for a long time, and it becomes engrained in their culture. 

    A better way to phrase it would be that we’re losing some religious organizations who have been doing a great job for a long time because laws that were never pushed are being pushed now. The government is actually forcing the closings by forcing the church’s hand. (I am not a catholic by the way).

  • Johnk

    A newborn baby is a bunch of cells too. Wait – so are you!

  • Anonymous

    “unborn people.”

    There is no such thing.

  • Anonymous

    While people are a subset of the set “bunch of cells”, the opposite is not true.

    Being a bunch of cells does not necessarily make you a person. Easy proofs: fetus, dog, tree.

  • Fester60613

    The hierarchy of the Catholic Church says things and does things – and pointedly does NOT do other things – in order to follow its theology, its dogma, its propaganda. 
    The church willfully and deliberately sacrifices the physical, mental and spiritual well being of its adherents to its ideology.
    It proves itself time and again to be anti-human, anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-science, anti-reason and anti-gay. The only thing the church does not hold negative views on is its own hierarchy… with the occasional lip serve to bad things like war and poverty.
    The church has lost its connection with humanity, and in doing so has doomed itself to a narrow, self centered and self serving agenda. 
    The results of that agenda will, sooner or later, touch the life of every individual Catholic – and they will continue to turn away from the faith.
    What was once a powerful force for good on the planet has turned inward and has begun to devour itself. I hope they enjoy the feast.

  • Erp

     Actually the Church usually isn’t running the charity but it is a separate organization from the diocese that the Church recognizes as ‘Catholic’ and for which it may provide funding and some staff may well be appointed by the diocese or are members of religious order and required to obey the bishop (or their religious superior).  The State is also providing funding (and in the case of adoption agencies may well be providing children for placement).  The services it provides should not be discriminatory on race, religion, …..

    The charities are effectively given the choice between which master to obey and therefore which support to lose (if they refuse the state, they lose state funding and also children under the state’s guardianship; if the refuse the church they lose their ‘Catholic’ title, church funding, and possibly some staff members yanked by the church).  Now if it had been between a state that demanded no discrimination on the grounds of race  for a charity receiving state funding and a church that insisted on discrimination (not the Catholic church which was fairly good on not discriminating on racial grounds but let us say the old Southern Baptists) what would you think?

  • Anonymous

    In the case of adoption, the children are wards of the state. The agency is merely providing a service that the government outsourced to them. The church has really a highly inflated opinion of its importance in that arrangement

  • Anonymous

    An even better example is the genocide they are committing in sub-Saharan Africa by lying to people about condoms and AIDS. They’ve contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths there

  • Anonymous

     Try “preborn” for some more ridiculous newspeak

  • TiltedHorizon

    So what does Francis House have to do with abortions? Is that one of their services?

    You recently chastised someone for using a “non sequitur”, yet here you are, guilty of it.

  • TiltedHorizon

    A heartfelt “Kudos” to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for sticking to their morals. Good for them, the more conditions the church places on the “help” they provide the better, it makes it easier to see all the strings attached.

  • Actually, I meant to ask Hemant to start a fund, as you can probably guess by the mention of Jessica’s fund, but then I forgot to write it in the post.

    Let’s be clear about this: first and foremost these guys deserve the money and we should raise them because of their great works. They do a great job and without them our homeless problem in Sacramento would be much worse.

    I think that setting up a fund to offset the Diocesis contribution would buy us more goodwill than any billboard we could buy. Better yet if we can make it an annual thing, but for now I would set it up for just this once.

    My guess is that Faux news would just ignore it rather than giving atheist good press. Unless we can make it controversial enough that they will find something to bash us for.

    To me it seems the perfect chance to show everyone that non believers care as much or more than the religious and we don’t blackmail them into supporting our beliefs like the dioceses obviously does. Francis House is religious, but they do good work. Necessary work in a city where the homeless ranks were just beefed up by lots of formerly middle class folks.

    Yet, we would not ask them to stop reading the bible in exchange for the $10k. As long as they respect our beliefs and do not impose theirs upon their charges it’s good enough for us. 

    At the very bottom of the list, I have to admit that I would love to see the Diocesis reaction if we can offset their $10K . 

  • As it happens, I was just reading an interview with Bishop Jamie Soto of  the Diocese of Sacramento.  It’s all about contraception, but it’s interesting

    In my own experience, listening to women in the confessional, I find that contraceptives become the solution for the distrust that she has in her spouse. Instead of dealing with ambiguity in the relationship or mistrust or lack of communication or violence, the women opts for, or is even sometimes encouraged to just take contraceptives, and then you won’t have to worry about those things. Well, that isn’t going to save her marriage.

  • tk

    So is a chrysanthemum. 

  • HitchsApprentice

    Death to Catholic Clerics……………….  The world would be a much better place.  Start with the Pope, and work UP!

  • HitchsApprentice

    The Catholickass church has no morals……….  They’re the Worlds largest ‘HATE GROUP’

  • HitchsApprentice

    Quickest way to create an Atheist….. Expose someone to the Catholic church…….

  • Aimee

    Hmmm….lets see who is a force for evil in the world….oh yeah…The RCC wins this round.  

  • Deadmandancing

    What. These are a bunch of words that seemingly have no connection to one another. The man is speaking nonsense.

  • JoeBuddha

    If you decide to take State money, you’ve already chosen your “master”. The State has requirements regardless of whether the organization receiving the funds is religious or secular; they know (or should know) that going in.

  • Anonymous

    Love the sinner hate the sin?
    Those sinners will come around when they get hungry enough:>  Then that director will change their mind.

  • Nordog

    On your part: Fail.

    Francis House is not a “she”. 

    Reverend Whitmore on the other hand, supports abortion, that is to say, she supports a woman’s right to kill the child within her.

    Those who deny that abortion destroys individual human lives (not simply human cells) are blind.  The blindness may be willful, but it is blindness nonetheless.

  • Anonymous

     All the more absurd when you consider that this is coming from someone who has zero experience with romantic relationships

  • TiltedHorizon

    As you stated:”Francis House is not a “she”.” So again.  What does Francis House have to do with abortions?

    You are attempting to shift focus away from the topic at hand, that is, none of the services provided reflect or support abortion. Therefore to withhold donations based on something unrelated (Francis House is not a “she”, if you call) is simply hurtful to those who would have benefited.

    Just because the word ‘abortion’ is used in a article does not mean the subject of the article is abortion. So on your part…. Fail.

  • Salford3lad

    The leader of the Catholic church in Scotland has come out against, surprise, surprise, gay marriage, also the English Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nichols. It’s about time the Catholic church put its own house in order and stop interfering in peoples lives. 

  • Nordog

     Of course.  It’s so much more easy to justify killing someone if you can deny their humanity.

    Well played.

  • Nordog

    My comment was in response to Hemant’s comment in the
    original article regarding the individual in question. 

    Abortion is very much a part of the article,
    especially the point that the individual in question supports abortion.

    Should I be surprised that you missed all of that?

  • TiltedHorizon

    Again I say, what does Francis House have to do with abortions? (3rd time now)

    If “Abortion is very much a part of the article” then you should have no trouble answering the question… yet you don’t. Should I be surprised?

    The only role abortion plays here is as an excuse to withhold donations predicated on personal opinion and not an actual service provided.

  • Anonymous-Sam

     So it’s fully justified to deny aid to thousands of people based on the personal beliefs of one person whose beliefs aren’t even relevant to the charity in question? This is a charity to help the homeless and has no abortion services whatsoever.

    You know the extent to which Francis House has anything to do with children?

    Francis House Center offers hotel stays for families with children. It
    is unconscionable to see children living on the streets. While we wish
    that we could care for every child, we are grateful that we can make a
    difference for some each night.

    The Catholic church would rather those children die on the streets to–in theory alone–prevent deaths in the womb instead.

    Protip: Far more children die outside the womb than inside it. In fact, miscarriage is an infinitely greater danger to a fetus than abortion. As the Internet trolls might say, lern2prioritize.

  • Nordog

     The head of Francis House is a public supporter of gay marriage and abortion.  The Church has chosen to not support Francis House for that reason.

  • Nordog

     Don’t be an idiot.

    Children dying in the streets?  Theoretical children dying in the womb?

    I’m fascinated that you rationalize the killing of children in the womb because, hey, children die anyway.

    It boggles the mind to see the extent that people will go to in order to rationalize the killing of children.

  • TiltedHorizon

    False equivalence. My friend, a Christian, cheated on his wife, therefore all Christian men are adulterers. Recently, Father Uriel Ojeda, a priest who is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, was arrested for molestation charges, therefore all priests are child predators. 99.9% of inmates brush their teeth, therefore oral hygiene causes criminal behavior.

    One has nothing to do with the other. The head of Francis House is a public supporter of gay marriage and abortion, the charity is not. So withholding contributions on the latter because of the former does not compute.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    And it boggles my mind that you can utterly ignore the greater issue. You would rather people die on the streets, denying a charity entirely because of the expressed opinions of one person. Your morals are astounding, sir.  I am in awe of your superior ability to compartmentalize morality apart from religion and deny succor to those in need in the name of upholding such fragile beliefs.

  • Nordog

     So your claim then is that without the Catholic Church everyone dies in the streets.  Interesting.

  • Nordog

    Oh, and I’m sure you contribute to many religious based homeless programs despite the “woo” involved because you don’t want people dying in the streets.

  • Nordog

     Of course you are not an idiot.  You are a troll.

  • Shhh, don’t say stuff like that Nordog might hear you and deny it’s going on. 😉

  • Anonymous-Sam

     You certainly expend a lot of energy trying to be aggravating. Are you sure there isn’t something missing in your life? Do you ever feel a strange vacancy inside you that you can’t quite fully articulate to anyone else, and wouldn’t want to try?

    I hesitate to recommend it to anyone, knowing how many lives it’s ruined, but since you’re arguing on behalf of religion, maybe you should try giving it an honest chance for once. It’s what you seem to really want, and I can tell you’re not really trying. Perhaps it would help.

    Otherwise, I’d have to suggest that you give atheism a try. You can still be an asshole and an atheist, but it’s much harder to be a proper Christian and an asshole. You can either be a very poor Christian or be honest with what you’re more suited for.

  • Ah, when I think denial I think Rwlawoffice and Momma J.

    And to be fair, the RC church has recently conceded that maybe condoms aren’t QUITE as bad as AIDS.

  • Nordog

    I’m used to people here knee jerking directly to the hackneyed ad hominem, I’m just used to it being quite as lame as yours.

  • Double check my math but the catholic church was only helping one person a year with their donation. (500k total budget / 25k people) 

    They were a generous donor when compared to an individual but as a percentage of  annual income I’d guess that their donation was pretty much negligible. 

  • Erp

     It is off.   The donation was about 2% of the total so about 50 people.  However it was probably a donation they felt fairly sure about so it could be relied upon for multi-year large expenses (e.g., rent/annual maintenance of facilities). 

  • bismarket

    Most Christians it seems to me, ignore the teachings of Christ &/or The Bible if it doesn’t suit. Another thing, can we be sure any money raised would be accepted? You know “The dirty Atheist” money’s been refused before.

  • bismarket

    But they’ve got a book!

  • Alex

    You owe me a new irony meter :)))

  • Rosemary

     It would be better if you  =insisted= that the recipients read the Bible – all of it, from start to finish.  Makes lots of athiests 🙂

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