The Catholic Church has threatened to cut funding to Compañeros, a rural southwestern Colorado-based immigrant rights group that helps poor Latino "immigrants with basic needs including access to health care and guidance on local laws," reports the New York Times.
Compañeros was told that unless it withdrew from the coalition, [Executive Director] Nicole Mosher said, the group would lose money it got each year. "I was shocked that our money was all of a sudden in jeopardy, and confused about why," Ms. Mosher said. "We have no reason to believe that we are in any way going against Catholic teachings. If they are willing to defund our program based on an affiliation, it sends a clear message of divisiveness."
Debate over the church’s vaunted antipoverty campaign, which was begun by the bishops’ conference in 1970, has taken a more contentious turn in recent years. Conservative Catholics, with the help of search engines and other Web sites, have become more aggressive in tracking the activities of groups that receive funds from the campaign, while some groups have found themselves forced to defend their work.
Clarifying who should be eligible for the money — a tactic pushed hard by the conservative Catholic groups — has forced the campaign to strike a delicate balance between the church’s priorities: helping the poor while staying true to traditional Catholic doctrine.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, donates about $8 million annually to about 250 groups nationwide. The funding arm "has been under increasing pressure from conservative Catholic groups to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding organizations that run afoul of church positions on issues like birth control and marriage."
The situation is very similar to the Diocese of Sacramento, California's decision last month to cut off their funding to a local homeless shelter because its new director supports marriage equality.