Sometimes two news stories collide in such a way as to tell you everything you wanted to know about an issue. That’s the case with two recent events involving the Catholic hierarchy. In a nutshell, the two stories illustrates all the misplaced priorities that drive the Church on gay issues.
Story one. A nonprofit group dedicated to helping immigrant workers has had its funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development cut off because the group is a member of a national organization that supports marriage equality. Voz Workers’ Rights Education, based in Portland, OR, is a member of the National Council of La Raza, a leading Latino civil rights organization that believes in marriage equality. That connection alone is enough for the bishops to pull funding from the Portland group, after demanding that the group resign from NCLR. (To its credit, Voz refused.)
“It’s certainly difficult and painful, because Voz has done some tremendous work,” Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said. But the Church would rather punish immigrant workers because Voz has a one-off connection with a group that supports the LGBT community. Voz is just the latest group to take a financial hit because it had a remote connection to marriage equality. A Chicago group that helped poor kids get bicycles lost its funding for the same reason.
Story two. Meanwhile, if you’re a world-class hypocrite who also happens to be a bishop, you get to retire quite comfortable. Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, one of the loudest homophobes in the Church, was forced to step down after he admitted to having sex with other men, including a long-time priest boyfriend. So is O’Brien suffering the same type of deprivation that immigrant workers in Oregon will? Of course not. The Scottish Church just bought him a nice little bungalow that cost the equivalent of more than $350,000 in U.S. dollars. Apparently a monastic cell wasn’t good enough for O’Brien (or perhaps the proximity of other clergymen was too tempting).
The archdiocese that includes Edinburgh said that the “price was within the cost range of other purchases for retired clergy housing.
To sum up: doing good deeds isn’t enough to guarantee that the Church will give you money. But doing bad deeds is.
Pope Francis has his work cut out for him.