News (USA)

Catholic diocese cuts homeless funding over director’s support of gay marriage

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has announced it would no longer provide funding for Francis House, one of the largest shelters serving homeless people in Sacramento, because its new director spoke in support of same-sex marriage.

In a letter last month, Rev. Michael Kiernan, the diocese’s director of social services, said that Rev. Faith Whitmore’s public statements in support of marriage equality clash with the teachings of the Catholic Church, reported the Sacramento Bee.

As a result, Kiernan said it would be “impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House” as part of its annual Catholic Appeal.

Whitmore, senior pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento, took over leadership of Francis House last April.

Within her own denomination, Whitmore has been a strong advocate of same-sex marriage, and in 2008 presided 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.

Whitemore said her comments were made as an individual, and was not speaking on behalf of the welfare agency, and called the decision “surprising and disappointing.”

The diocese said it does not expect Francis House to “actively promote Catholic teaching … 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 Catholic Church had previously donated up to $10,000 annually over the past two decades to Francis House, which has an annual budget of approximately $500,000.

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