CHICAGO – Cardinal Francis George has defended the Churchʼs decision to cut off funds from a state immigrant coalition, and he accused its leaders of betraying both the Church and their own members by openly supporting the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
The board of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights “broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so-called ʻsame-sex marriage,ʼ” said Cardinal George in a July 29 statement.
“For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted,” he said.
The Immigration Coalition published a statement in May supporting “marriage equality,” saying that “full equality and civic participation should extend to recognition of all families, including those involving same-sex partnerships.”
They also stressed the importance of redefining marriage in their mission, saying that recognition of same-sex unions as marriages should be extended to “our immigration laws, our family laws and to other areas of law that affect our families.”
After the publication of this statement, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty campaign run by the U.S. bishops, cut off all funding for the Immigration Coalition.
Cardinal George said that CCHD did so in order to not betray its donors. He said Catholics “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.”
An open letter published in the Chicago Tribune on July 29 had accused CCHD of “turning her back on the poor.”
Cardinal George stated that the Church’s long-standing work for immigrant groups and immigration reform “remains intact,” without “betraying its donors or the Catholic faith.”
“It is intellectually and morally dishonest to use the witness of the Church’s concern for the poor as an excuse to attack the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage,” he said.
The cardinal quoted Pope Francis, saying that marriage should be “a stable union of man and woman” and that “this union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of Godʼs own love.”
Further quoting Pope Francis, he said that this union is also born of “the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life.”
Cardinal George also criticized those who signed the open letter challenging the decision made by CCHD while at the same time proclaiming their commitment to the Church.
“The Church is no one’s private club,” he said, “she is the Body of Christ.”
He said that the Catholics who signed the letter know that, “in a few years, like each of us, they will stand before this same Christ to give an account of their stewardship.”
Stated Cardinal George, “Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid; he knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.”