Diocese Puts Religious Dogma Before Helping the Homeless


The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has decided to stop funding Francis House, an agency that serves the homeless, because the nonprofit’s director supports marriage equality and abortion rights.

Reports the Sacramento Bee:

In a letter last month, the diocese’s director of social services said the Rev. Faith Whitmore’s public statements on the issues clash with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, said the Rev. Michael Kiernan, the social services director, it is “impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House” as part of its annual Catholic Appeal.

Each morning, dozens of poor people line up at Francis House, in Sacramento’s homeless services epicenter on C and 14th streets, for help with basic services such as housing and transportation. Now in its 42nd year, the organization is one of the largest homeless services agencies in the Sacramento region, serving upward of 25,000 people. It has an annual budget of about $500,000.

For at least two decades, Francis House has received annual donations from the diocese ranging from $7,500 to $10,000, said Michael Miiller, a member of the agency’s corporate advisory board.

In the letter to Francis House the Sacramento Diocese, while cheering the work Francis House has been doing and recognizing it cannot expect every organization it supports financially to “actively promote Catholic teaching”, says:

“We can expect, however, that they or their leaders not publicly oppose Catholic teaching and that, unfortunately, is the situation in which we find ourselves.”

The letter notes a concern that some may think that donations the Diocese has made could be perceived as condoning the views of the head of the organization.

Whitmore, senior pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento,  took over directorship of Francis House last April following the sudden death of its previous director.

Whitmore had in 2008 decided to preside over the marriages of a number of same-sex couples while gay marriage was legal in California. She has also said she supports a woman’s right to an abortion.

The diocese, on the other hand, opposes gay marriage and abortion and is, according to its website, supporting the so-called 40 Days for Life campaign, a religious campaign coinciding with Lent that is against abortion and advocates praying outside of clinics that offer abortion related services.

Whitmore maintains that her views are all privately held and in no way would interfere with her duties as a representative of Francis House. Interestingly, the board of directors for the non-profit agency is said to be backing Whitmore.

Of course in this regard the diocese is allowed to do with its funds as it wishes (though perhaps not with the privilege of tax exemption) and it does seem fair that money collected from its parishners should go to causes that are in line with Catholic teaching.

However, Whitmore doesn’t mandate that any of the homeless that are helped by Francis House subscribe to her personal stance on same-sex marriage or abortion, so it is hard to see in what way the nonprofit is “actively” going against Catholic teaching. Indeed, the diocese seems to be reprimanding her for just thinking differently to them, and witholding funds for the nonprofit on that basis.

It appears that for the diocese, in this context at least, Christian love and charity is conditional, the homeless who need those services be damned.

Related Stories:

Illinois Civil Unions Hit By Tax Dispute

Catholic Charities Suing Illinois For Special Right to Turn Away Gay Couples Seeking to Adopt

Illinois Catholic Charity Ends Adoption Services Rather Than Honor New Civil Unions Law


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Elvert Barnes.


Alvi Mana
Alvi Mana2 years ago

Let's not forget that about 20-25% of the homeless population are mentally ill. They're on the streets because their own families cannot or will not take the time and trouble to care for them--and, they're basically like helpless children. Jesus stated: "Suffer the children to come unto me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." We're all our brothers' keepers and the Church, any church, needs to set the example; otherwise, they're just blowing air out of their behinds.

Alvi Mana
Alvi Mana2 years ago

What about the unfairness of punishing the homeless and needy because the Catholic Diocese opposes the "beliefs" of the new Methodist director? This is neither Christian nor charitable, and therefore goes against the Christian values that the Church preaches and promulgates.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Yeah right, just like Jesus would have done, huh?

Robert Fitzgerald


Anything that creates suffering, pain, death, or any of the negative emotions or that is based in violence or hatred is evil. Judgment is evil, even self-righteous religious judgment. Even judgement by the Pope or the Church. Evil!!!

Robert Fitzgerald

There is a psychological truth that says that whatever one puts his mind on, he attracts just that into his life. If one fears and hates some "evil" then he becomes that evil simply through the law of attraction. You are what you think. Even thinking "against" something attracts that into your life.

The Catholic Church, and later the Protestant Church, early on focused on their fear of Satan rather than on love and compassion. They looked for Satan everywhere in order to root that great evil out from society. As they looked for Satan they attracted what they were focused on and became a very real Church of Satan salaciously going after mostly women as witches, and devising excruciating tortures in order to delight in their power over them. They created a whole system of theological truths and dogmas in order to sanctify their satanic delight in their own depraved violence. It became a Church of Violence and Torture.

Today the Church is not quite that evil anymore, but their insistence on dogma reveals an old attraction to something that smells of satanism and rigid domineering control.

The masculine religious ideal is based on the division of existence between light and dark, good and evil. The Church needs to ask itself what is good and what is evil. The esoteric and the humanist view is that love, compassion, forgiveness, NON-judgment, and inclusion are good. Anything that creates suffering, pain, death, or any of the negative emotions or that is based in violence

Stevie A.
Stevie A.2 years ago

Joe C, thanks for the reminder that, unfortunately, MANY of the needy and homeless are veterans who deserve so much more than they receive.
@ Ann D. I think you have a Juno (that's female genius) idea. Tithe to the cause and not the church.

Stevie A.
Stevie A.2 years ago

Joe C, thanks for the reminder that, unfortunately, MANY of the needy and homeless are veterans who deserve so much more than they receive.

Marcia Geiger
Marcia G.3 years ago

The food pantry that was supported by diocisene (sp) was closed due to cost.
..Many church members chose to re-open it and to fund/staff it on their own to help those in need. rather than donate to rebuild the cathedral which had burned..the only part that had remained was the steeple..if I remember correctly; the steeple had cost a million..really pretty gold one.
Google St Raphaels..Madison WI...
This area is stuck with Bishop Morlino..who really needs to rethink a lot of his attitudes re: the poor, women and staying out of politics.

Mary H.
Mary H.3 years ago

Really, why should they expect to support an org that works against their beliefs? Would you expect a communist to support an org that believes in capitalism? How many conservative Christians orgs (that, say, believe in sex only in heterosexual marriage and in a young earth?) does the average liberal support? Are you willing to say nasty things about them if they don't?

Martin Koolstra
Martin Koolstra3 years ago

It has been obvious for many years with the means of the internet and finally the media, has exposed the "anti-christ "cult", known as the Catholic Church, which according to Jesus shouldn't judge, has been following perfectly been in lock- step with the powerful Corporations and the Elite to lower the lives of the poorest among us to the barest living condition.
I have found that in the last 12 years there have been a grand concerted effort to lower the standard of living by the Elite with the assistance of this so called Christian church.
This cult rakes in $96 billion a year mostly from working class parishioners.
This is besides the wealth of the Vatican's art and other valuable assets.
This cult has the blessing of the Elite who's behaviours go counter to the teaching of Jesus Christ's about compassion and charity.
If Catholics are reading this and disagree with my dissertation, ask your pastor where Jesus went wrong about the sermon on the mount. He'll give you the old worn out flawed reasons how the CHURCH is following Christ teachings and questions your obedience to the church. When mentioning anything about their involvement of covering up priest who deviled thousands of children world wide, which Jesus condemned so vehemently, he will get very angry for you to question the authority of the Church which you have no right to.