Several immigration advocacy groups that lost funding from Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of their support for marriage equality in Illinois will receive support from a special emergency fund administered by several local foundations, according to a statement issued Sept. 25.
Among the foundations involved in the new fund are Crossroads Fund, Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Foundation for Women, Gill Foundation and the Pierce Family Foundation.
The new fund, which is to be named the Solidarity Fund, will be housed at the Crossroads Fund of Chicago; the initial fundraising goal is $300,000, which is the approximate amount of funding withheld by CCHD.
"Our community has come together with an urgent response to replace critical funding for several important groups that advance the causes of immigration fairness and reform, and serve as catalysts for social change. We are confident that our goal is achievable by the end of 2013," said Jeanne Kracher, executive director of Crossroads Fund, in the statement.
"The local Catholic community has called upon its leadership to reverse the decision to punish immigrants and the groups that serve them because of their affiliation with a coalition that supports marriage equality in Illinois. These courageous members of the Church also called upon the local philanthropic community to make sure that these organizations do not suffer financially because of this action by the CCHD. The fund that we have created is intended to prevent any such harm," added Jim McDonough, executive director of Alphawood Foundation.
CCDH pulled funding from the immigration organizations due to their support of marriage equality, on the grounds that they were pursuing an agenda contrary to Church teachings.
On July 29, a group of Catholic elected officials, among them Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st) and James Cappelman (46th) and Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey (D-12th) and Larry Suffredin (D-13th), published an open letter in Chicago Tribune urging Cardinal Francis George to rethink the matter.
George responded with his own statement July 29 that the immigration coalition was using the poor as pawns to further their political agenda. "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."
Many gay rights advocates were encouraged by an interview with Pope Francis published online Sept. 19 said that the Church was becoming too "obsessed" with gays. George praised the Pope's "message of love" July 20, but remained silent about the policy issues the pope discussed.
For information on Solidarity Fund, visit www.crossroadsfund.org/solidarityfund .