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Cardinal defends funding cuts for immigration groups that support gay marriage

Cardinal defends funding cuts for immigration groups that support gay marriage

CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis George, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, is defending his decision to bar church funding for immigrant rights groups that support same-sex marriage.

“You can’t play off the pastoral concern of the church for the poor against the church’s teaching,” George said. “That’s exactly what was done, that’s a cynical move, and I’m sorry that it was done.”

Cardinal Francis George

George’s response came following an open letter signed by a group of Catholic elected officials and community leaders — including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and former Chicago mayor William Daley — that urged the church to reverse its decision.

Last week, George had ordered the Catholic Campaign for Human Development – the Catholic Church’s anti-poverty program in the U.S. – to withdraw financial support for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, after the group had publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage in the state.

Daley and other local leaders have accused George of using immigrants as “pawns in a political battle” over same-sex marriage.

“My view on marriage equality and those of immigrant-aid groups who have similar views really are irrelevant to our collective duty to help those who are less fortunate,” Daley wrote to George last week.

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“[F]or the church to turn its back on its long-standing work with groups that aid the poor over a completely unrelated issue is an injustice, plain and simple. The path of justice should lead the Archdiocese to leave these two issues separate and continue to seek justice through charitable works,” Daley said.

George fired back at his critics, and said church funding agreements prohibit organizations and groups it supports from pursuing an agenda contrary to the church’s teachings – which includes its opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The church is consistent, over many years – ten years and more – in our concern for immigrants, and just immigration reform, and that will continue,” George said.

George has called same-sex marriage “unnatural and legal-fiction.”

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