Diocese cuts funds for agency supporting same-sex 'marriage'

03 26 2010 malone Bishop Richard Malone

The Diocese of Portland, Maine has cut the funding for a homeless aid group who lied to about their support for same-sex "marriage."  Sue Bernard, spokesperson for the diocese, told CNA on Monday that “it's a shame that the funding had to be moved,” given the group's dishonesty.

Officials from both the Diocese of Portland and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) recently told the non-profit homeless agency, Preble Street, that it had violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine's “No on 1” campaign last November which opposed legislation that would overturn the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”

The Portland Press Herald wrote on March 24 that although Mark Swann, the agency's executive director, stated that his organization did not promote or advocate same-sex “marriage” in his funding application, Preble Street was listed as a coalition partner on the “No on 1/Protect Maine Equality” website leading up to the November mid-term elections in 2009.

In December, Catholic Charities Maine, headed by Bishop Richard Malone, sent a letter to Preble Street asking it to return the $2,400 that the diocese had granted for the Homeless Voices for Justice program, which is supported by the aid group. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development likewise asked for a funding return from Preble Street in a Jan. 27 letter. CCHD had awarded a grant of $30,000 to Homeless Voices for Justice, $17,400 of which has already been spent.

Swann called the funding cut “punishing” and “deeply troubling” in a Feb. 12 letter to the CCHD.  Echoing his sentiments was Anne Underwood, co-founder of the pro-same-sex “marriage” group Catholics for Marriage Equality, who charged in the Portland Press Herald last week that the diocese and CCHD were employing “petty vindictiveness” and that people “who are homeless should not be used in political games.”

Bernard countered these statements and told CNA on Monday that “We ask that non-profits who apply for the money are honest in the grant-making application. The money that we give to charities through CCHD is collected annually from the Catholic faithful who are made aware that their offerings will support activities that are not contrary to the foundation of our faith.”

Regarding Swann's dishonesty, Bernard stated that the funding application “was quite clear.” 

“Regarding marriage and family life it asked: does your organization support, promote or advocate for other forms of relationships such as bisexual or homosexual/lesbian lifestyles or same-sex marriages? Mr. Swann answered, 'no,'” she recalled.

“We are responsible for administering the funds under those conditions,” she added. “Just as individuals give to charities based upon their core values or personal experiences, the Church does the same. Our values are meaningful to us and it would be wrong to ignore them. We are giving the returned money to another worthy charity.”

“It’s a shame that the funding had to be moved to another charity (that charity is pleased however),” said Bernard, “but the responsibility for the loss is Mr. Swann’s, who as the head of a non-profit, decided to take a political stand knowing what the grant stated and therefore, put the funding at risk.”

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