Housing Complex

Catholic Church Threatens to Withhold Social Services if City Passes Same-Sex Marriage Law


Well, this is really shameful.

For most of the Fall, we've been reporting on the latest strains on homeless services around the city: First, it was Central Union Mission struggling to find space for a new shelter; Next, we focused on budgetary concerns crippling shelters around the city.

Well, forget all that. Now, we have a new reason to worry key social services will soon evaporate: The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington claims that it will discontinue contracts with the city if it is forced to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples if the D.C. Council's gay marriage bill passes into law.

So the Archdiocese's priority list apparently places "helping people with desperate needs" below "not recognizing same-sex marriages."

The Washington Post has a front page article on this topic in this morning's paper.

"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."

According to the story, "city leaders"—particularly At-large Councilmember David Catania—are claiming that Catholic Charities, which serves 68,000 residents, isn't the end-all, be-all of social services in the District. (Catholic Charities also has contracts providing health care and adoption services, according to the Post.) But last month, as the Council and the Department of Human Services went back and forth on budgetary matters, Catholic Charities was one of the loudest and most pressing voices arguing for more funding to keep open full-time shelters during the winter.

The Post article quotes Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh saying "she hopes the Catholic Church will reconsider its stance."

"'Are they really going to harm people because they have a philosophical disagreement with us on one issue?' Cheh asked. 'I hope, in the silver light of day, when this passes, because it will pass, they will not really act on this threat.'"

Yeah, let's hope so, for the love of god—and I guess, in this case, I mean that quite literally.

Image by TheChristianAlert.org, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

  • John K.

    Good riddance! Let an organization that ACTUALLY has some compassion take it's place.

  • Former Staffer

    Notice to Vacate - The Catholic Church has hereby ordered to abandon all properties located within the District, to the D.C. City Government for repeated violations of the DC Human Rights Act.

    Thanks for playing your douchiness.

  • Not So Fast…

    Before we condemn Catholic Charities, let's remember something here: they have a right to their religious beliefs. They are not saying the city can't recognize gay marriage. They are saying it's not fair to make them do so, as it is inconsistent with their beliefs. The City is going too far on this one. The City could easily find a way to make gay marriage legal in DC without also making it illegal for Catholic Charities to limit the services it provides to those that fall within its own belief system. The City is elevating gay rights above religious freedom, despite what they are calling the law.

  • Kyle

    No. Actually, the Catholic church is trying to harass and bully our government into enacting or not enacting laws based on their religious dogma, which they, wrongly, feel is the fucking law of the land.

  • Former Staffer

    NSF - So religious exemptions means unequal rights of citizenship is ok? And a man isn't a man according to Justice Taney, but Courts occasionally (read frequently) get it wrong.

  • 1967dc

    Oh please NSF...To even give the Catholic Church the benifit of doubt here.. I absolutly hate that church and firmly believe that they should have their tax exp.status taking away. The are no better then any cult. Oh and they even have a fucking Nazi as their leader. The leadership in the Catholic Church consist of pedifiles,drunks and liars..and they point fingers...I would love for the chance to punch Whurl right in the face. He's scum!

  • Joan

    The Catholic Church cannot use taxpayer funds to discriminate.

  • Tyler Durden

    Time to kiss that tax exemption status good-bye.

  • Will

    Dear Ms. Bellford & Fr. Snyder,
    Per today's Washington Post:
    "The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care."
    THIS IS INFURIATING AND I AM DEEPLY, DEEPLY APPALLED. The rigid conservative "Catholics" in this country have sunk to a new low. Have you no shame? Cutting programs for the disenfranchised, homeless, hungry and poor? What translation of the Gospel are reading from anyway?
    When Abortion and the Death Penalty were legalized by the Supreme Court, did you take it out on the poor and needy by abandoning your ministries then? NO! You continued to minister, remain present and stand firm as an unwavering icon of compassion, healing and love. DO THE SAME NOW!
    If you abandon these least among us now you are no better than cowards. Wreckless and Shameful.
    Larry, I hope you fight this insanity with every fiber of your being! Man Up. Live the Gospel! For Jesus' Sake.

  • Proud Catholic

    +DC has the lowest marriage rate (23%)of any "state,"
    +Same-Sex relations violate the teachings of most major religions,
    +Catholics will still volunteer to serve the poor in DC because it is right,
    + DC has the highest per cap rate of AIDS/HIV in the country,
    +this year $10 million of Catholic members' donations have been donated for these programs in DC,
    +Catholics educate many at Cath Univ, Georgetown, Trinity
    +Catholics provide an outstanding education to many DC children at many high performing schools in DC,
    +Catholics run about 65 other social services in DC, and
    +Catholicism is a beautiful religion teaching Christ's love and we have the right to practice our religion as we continue to serve all of God's people, including those writing bigoted things about us.

  • Proud Catholic

    Correction: Catholicism is a beautiful denomination within the Christian religion....

  • Richie

    Proud Catholic...do you really want to play tit for tat? The Catholic Church is using the the poor, homeless and underpriviledge in our city as a pawn to strong arm the city government which is against the constitution of the United States. The church must stay out of civil law! This is nothing to be proud of...you are listing things that many, many non-religious organiztions do because they want to and feel the need to do so with out the need to get something in return.

  • 1967dc

    Proud Catholic<<<<just another sick fuck in a fucked up religon. Theres nothing beautiful about the way priests and nuns abused helpless children. Theres nothing beautiful about your pope during WWll sucking up and kissing Hitlers ass. There is nothing real about your religon in any way shape or form. This Sunday go to mass and I hope the wafer they shove down your throat gets stuck and you choke.

  • Proud Satanist

    Hum, I have no fucking idea what these "facts" are supposed to prove, support, or refute. First of all, how many people are Catholics in the District? Also, none of these "facts" will further negatively change or be affected in any way by the Gay Marriage bill or by requiring City-funded groups to comply with the law. Marriage rates will actually go up, because Gays will be marrying. Catholics aren't the only ones volunteering to help the poor. Georgetown, Trinity, American, aren't leaving DC because of this.

    Finally, if Catholicism is such a fucking beautiful denomination, why the fuck does it openly discriminate against so many. Not really following the principles of that guy Jesus huh?

  • Pingback: Councilmembers Dig in Heels on Catholic Threat - Housing Complex - Washington City Paper

  • Skipper

    Lots of hate on this thread. Sad.

  • a misinformed dialogue

    true dat, Skipper.

    Let's be clear. As a former employee who is not Catholic, I can attest that Catholic Charities has never (in this decade, at least) discriminated in its SERVICES based on race, immigration status, gender or sexual orientation. What they're fighting for here, is the right to HIRE who they want. Still, a discrimination issue. But it's not about who receives their services; it's about who's on their payrole. And I think my gay friends would not flock to work for Catholic Charities anyway.

  • Proud Satanist

    I guess the reason for all the hate is that we're following the example of the Church and oh yeah, Satan commands me to be hateful and I must do everything written by Ned from 22 decades ago cause Satan spoke to him directly and told him what to write, word for word.

    Also, I can't wear rubber boots on Tuesdays and I can only eat eggs if they are made sunny-side up with onions. All these rules I have to follow and I don't see why you guys can't follow the same rules I follow. What, do they sound absurd to you? Do them offend your better sense of reason?

    Well, taking advice from an 80 year virgin with a paper top-hat is really not my cup of tea...

  • Proud Satanist


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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ik2erSRrWU Archbishop Michael O.C.A.N.A.

    Why did the catholic church see this as a challenge to its supremacy? How did the concept of "priesthood of all believers threaten established political or social hierarachies and how?
    Archbishop Michael O.C.A.N.A.