Monday, July 21, 2014

Doctrine vs Compassion

UPDATE 7/30/2014: Since word got out about the Archdiocese of Cincinnati withdrawing its planned donation to Lydia's House because of its opposition to the shelter's decision to invite Roman Catholic woman priest Debra Meyers, Lydia's House has received over $7,000 in donations from outraged Catholics around the country. It is now offering to share the excess funds with other nonprofit agencies in the area working with the poor and homeless...

Two more examples this month demonstrate that the institutional Roman Catholic Church has not yet learned the lesson Jesus tried to teach over and over again that love and compassion are more important than strict -- and merciless -- adherence to religious laws and doctrine (see Mk 2:23-28, Mk 3:1-6, etc.).

After it learned that Lydia's House, a home for homeless women and children in the Catholic Worker tradition, would be hosting a prayer service (not a Mass, a prayer service) with Rev. Debra Meyers, an ordained Roman Catholic woman priest and pastor of the Inclusive Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati withdrew the $1,000 it had promised the shelter to help buy a new washer and dryer. Said the Archdiocese: "Donors are promised their contributions will not be used to support organizations that stand in opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. By hosting a public prayer service presided over by someone who claims to be a Catholic priest but is not, Lydia's House has chosen to put itself in that category."

Fortunately the group that ordained Rev. Meyers, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, was in a position to make up the lost funding and presented a check to Lydia's House at the prayer service. Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan explained ARCWP's attitude. "Women's ordination is not only about women priests. It is also about lifting up abused and exploited women, locally and globally," she said.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, an immigrant workers' group, Voz Workers' Rights Education Project lost a $75,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because it refused to break its ties with National Council of La Raza, a leading Latino rights group that has expressed support for same-sex marriage. Voz helps immigrants and day laborers to gain control over their working conditions through leadership development, organizing, and community education. The work of the organization itself has nothing to do with marriage equality. Due to the loss of the grant, Voz will face a budget gap of $75,000 in an already slim budget of $310,000.

Nonetheless, Voz has refused to back down. The organization's Executive Director Romeo Sosa said that CCHD's decision to withdraw its support "truly hurts our organization. It's going to impact our employees as well as our clients, which is a sad situation. But CCHD forced the question of Marriage Equality into the grant process. Ultimately we are an organization that does not discriminate; many of us know people who are gay, lesbian and transgender. They are our aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, friends, co-workers and neighbors." And in a letter to CCHD, Voz's board of directors quoted Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." "We stand with NCLR. We stand with their values," concluded Voz.

The group is now trying to find alternative sources to make up for the lost grant money before August. The funding from CCHD would have been used to support Voz's campaign to pass legislation aimed to prevent and address rampant theft of wages in the state as well as provide Voz staff salary and health care.

Click here if you want to help Voz make up for its lost CCHD grant.

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