CHICAGO, July 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archbishop of Chicago is under fire from local political leaders after threatening deny funding to several members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), which recently came out in support of same-sex “marriage.”

In a May 23 statement, ICIRR had written, “As an organization dedicated to the full inclusion of all Americans, whether foreign-born or native-born … ICIRR supports marriage equality.”

The Chicago diocese’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has been contributing between $25,000 and $30,000 each year to several of ICIRR’s member groups to aid humanitarian efforts in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. But since CCHD funding agreements are contingent on recipients not supporting agendas contrary to the Catholic faith, Archbishop Francis Cardinal George recently notified member groups that CCHD will be unable to provide any more funding unless the groups severed ties with the ICIRR and publicly renounced support for gay nuptials. 

Now, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that eight Catholic Democrats have signed on to an angry letter accusing the Archbishop of using poor immigrants as “pawns in a political battle” and urging him to continue funding the groups.

Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Larry Suffredin; Chicago aldermen James Cappleman, Patrick O’Connor, Proco “Joe” Moreno, and Danny Solis; City Clerk Susana Mendoza; and retired Cook County Judge Maureen Durkin Roy all signed the letter, which reads in part: “We write to you as loyal and proud Catholics to urge in the strongest possible terms that you rescind this threat. This action is not worthy of the church we know, love and respect.”

A call to the Archdiocese by LifeSiteNews seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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In its statement announcing its new position in favor of gay “marriage,” ICIRR had acknowledged that the position was likely to offend their faith-based benefactors, but added, “the majority of our members - and therefore our organization - believe that a full respect for our state’s and our nation’s diversity demands that we not discriminate based on whom we love, and that we call upon an end to such discrimination in our local, state, and federal laws.”

Same-sex nuptials are a hot topic in Illinois, where a bill to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples was passed by the State Senate earlier this year, but stalled in the State House last month.  It is likely the issue will be brought up again in the fall, as the state’s Catholic governor, Pat Quinn, is keen to sign it.