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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
Catholics cut off funds to immigrant rights group over marriage
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Catholics cut off funds to immigrant rights group over marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Portland immigrant rights group lost a longstanding grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because it also accepts money from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a Latino civil rights organization that endorses marriage equality.

Voz Workers' Rights Education lost a $75,000 grant in June after refusing to cut ties with NCLR. The Portland group has been affiliated with NCLR as a grant recipient since 2009.

Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said the group asked Voz to cut ties with NCLR, and when it refused, his organization concluded that Voz was 'self-disqualified' from the funding process.

Catholic Campaign, a program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had supported Voz since 1994, via 10 grants, McCloud said. In June, the bishops approved more than $14 million in grants to 205 organizations.

'It's certainly difficult and painful, because Voz has done some tremendous work,' McCloud said.

'But it became obvious that they were assisting in something that was contrary to the teachings of our traditions. And we have to honor our donors' intent that this money be spent on issues that are not contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.'

The Catholic Campaign grant represented a large part of Voz's annual budget of $310,000, said Voz director Romeo Sosa.

'Marriage equality is not the focus of our work; we focus on immigrant rights. But we work with everyone, we don't discriminate,' Sosa said. 'There may be gays and lesbians among our staff or workers, and we can't turn our backs on them.'

Local labor, immigrant rights, and LGBT rights groups have vowed to fundraise for Voz to fill the financial hole left by the loss of the Catholic Campaign grant.

Voz is not the only group to lose church funding because of ties to organizations that endorse same-sex marriage.

A coalition of conservative Catholic groups led by the American Life League has accused the Catholic Campaign of lax administration, and has been working since 2009 to call attention to grantees that fail to comply with Church teachings on abortion, contraception, and LGBT rights.

The bishops then reviewed Catholic Campaign's grant program and adopted several changes in 2010 that were designed to clarify the eligibility rules and strengthen the application review process.

As a result of the review, nine nonprofits that were part of coalitions supporting reproductive rights or same-sex marriage were disqualified from the grant process. Others chose not to apply, or re-apply.

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