Homophobia Trumps Anti-Poverty Mission of DC Archdiocese

By Guest Columnist Nov 13, 2009

by Leigh Graham. Originally published at Change.org’s Poverty in America blog. I’m with Mike on this one: I’ve got to headline this unbelievably craven move by the Catholic Church to threaten its social services to Washington D.C.’s poor if the city approves a same-sex marriage law. (Via.) When I began writing for Poverty in America, the first action I created was to a pledge to join Catholic Charities Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America.  Then I posted their video about the campaign.  I remarked to our Editor at the time that as a lapsed Catholic, someone who’d fallen out with the Church over their anti-modern, anti-women, anti-choice points of view, that I felt weird highlighting their anti-poverty efforts. But I reconciled that the Catholic Church had a positive record of serving the poor – indeed, it seemed like their only redeeming quality these days. Well, aren’t I naive.  Turns out the Church is perfectly willing to abandon DC’s poor in their outdated, hateful, confused crusade over gay/lesbian civil rights.  $10M is at risk here, what Catholic Charities contributes to public services for the poor. So far, some City Council members seem willing to let the Church walk, considering – fortunately – that it’s only one of many social service providers in town.  (And surely some of these other providers would love to step up and accept the $8M in public funds the Church receives every year to do these good works.) Fortunately, for the impoverished of DC – who, no doubt, include some of the GBLTQI population of the city (to whom the church may already be ministering), DC is a large, diverse city.  What about smaller, less diverse, or more conservative communities where it’s religious social services or starve? Or freeze? As a secular activist who lost faith in her own faith years ago, I’ve come to appreciate the exposure to religious do-gooders anti-poverty activism provides, as it’s given me a renewed appreciation for the pro-poor themes found in many organized religions, and for the generosity of the laypeople who administer these services. But, wow.  Way to have institutionalized discrimination trump institutionalized charity.  What brats.  Here’s a list of the "services and justice" the Archdiocese plans to shutter in DC. Here’s their contact information if you’d like to remind them of just What Jesus Would Do in this situation (Photo from St. Patrick’s Cemeteries in New Orleans by Steven T. Moga, used with permission)