Bishop Raymond L. Burke of La Crosse said he supports the diocesan outreach ministry to AIDS victims but, because of Catholic moral teaching, cannot support its participation in an AIDS walk, which will direct funds to two organizations that promote homosexual activity.
In a letter written in May 2002 and obtained recently by the Journal Sentinel, Bishop Burke told the Central Wisconsin HIV/AIDS Ministry Project in Stevens Point not to march in the annual AIDS fund-raising event.
"We've been very supportive; they do excellent work," Burke said after a news conference in La Crosse. The bishop told reporters at the Journal Sentinel that the diocese continues to provide about $17,000 annually to the group and also asks every parish to contribute $250 each to the ministry.
But he said he could not allow the ministry to participate in an activity that he viewed as promoting a homosexual lifestyle because the Church teaches that homosexual acts are contrary to moral law, reported the newspaper.
In the letter, the bishop calls upon the outreach project to be coherent with Church teaching in all aspects of its work.
In it, he told the outreach project co-odinator, Marge Schumann, that her organization should no longer participate in the walk because two other groups that benefit from it – the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and the YWCA Rainbow Alliance for Youth in La Crosse – promote homosexual activity, reported the newspaper.
"What is of graver scandal, they both promote homosexuality among young people," says the letter. "By participating in AIDS Walk Wisconsin, they would be co-operating materially with groups that act against the moral law."
The diocese also said it would no longer be able to support the outreach project financially if the project continued to participate in the AIDS walk, due to the obvious incoherence and moral dilemma.
The group did not participate in the walk last year or this year.