Friday, November 13, 2009
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. is threatening that Catholic Charities will withdraw from city contracts that fund services to homeless and other poor people in the dead of winter if D.C. approves same sex marriages. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111116943.html The bill would not require that the Church marry same sex couples or make space for such marriages, but D.C. law requires that recipients of funds not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. “Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.” Id.
Although I do not agree with the leadership of the Church on same sex marriage, that is not my point. I am puzzled about Catholic Charities' policies. Does Catholic Charities currently hire gays and lesbians, but wants to draw the line against married gays and lesbians? Why is that the place to draw the line? Does Catholic Charities hire Catholics who are divorced and remarried? If so, why are same sex couples different under Catholic theology?
"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem." Is that really what the problem is? Catholic Charities is the recipient of federal funds all over the country. For years (much to the chagrin of Rick Garnett and others) they have been required not to discriminate on the basis of religion with respect to their employees (the Directors are either a formal or informal exception to this) and Catholic Charities has complied. If the concern is secularity, Catholic Charities succumbed to that a long time ago. One columnist charges that the Church is using the poor as a political tool to stop gay marriage.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111210561_2.html?sub=AR
Maybe that is what is going on. If so, the Church has lost its grip on the gospel. But I do not know what is going on. I am mystified.
For other criticism, see Eduardo’s post on this. http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=5377. For a defence of the Church in this matter, see http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-9452-DC-Catholic-Living-Examiner~y2009m11d12-Samesex-marriage-law-forces-Washington-Archdiocese-to-reconsider-city-social-service-partnerships.For the language of the religious exemption, see http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/11/11/dc-marriage-bills-religious-exemption-finalized/