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Catholic Diocese Defunds Homeless Group Over Director’s Gay Marriage Views

Catholic Diocese Defunds Homeless Group Over Director’s Gay Marriage Views


The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has decided to stop funding a nonprofit agency that serves homeless people because its director made statements in support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the diocese's head of social services sent a letter last month to the Rev. Faith Whitmore, the director of Francis House, to say that her public statements clashed with Church teaching. The letter said it would be "impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House" in its annual Catholic Appeal specifically because of Whitmore's involvement.

Whitmore, a United Methodist minister, took over the directorship of Francis House last April. She married same-sex couples in defiance of her denomination in 2008, during the time such marriages could legally be performed under California law, and she has publicly expressed support for abortion. However, she maintains that she held those positions as an individual, and never as a representative of Francis House. The nonprofit's board of directors backs Whitmore.

Complicating matters somewhat, Francis House is nondenominational and no longer part of the Church in which it was founded. A spokesman for the diocese said there was a concern that some parishioners still perceive Francis House as a Catholic charity, which could lead to complaints about the fundraising, although he was unaware of any concerns raised by parishioners at this time.

According to the Bee, Francis House is one of the largest agencies serving the homeless in the Sacramento region, with upwards of 25,000 clients and an annual budget of around $500,000. The diocese has contributed between $7,5000 to $10,000 to the agency every year for at least two decades, a significant amount in a struggling economy.

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Julie Bolcer