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CHICAGO, October 29, 2013 ( – Catholics are praising a decision by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the official domestic aid agency of the U.S. bishops, to withhold grants from an affiliate that endorsed marriage redefinition.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) engages in activism for illegal immigrants, as well as legal immigrants and refugees, to be granted “full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.”


But some of its actions had been controversial. In 2012, ICIRR teamed up with the local chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a “get out the vote” effort that unseated pro-life Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, replacing him with pro-abortion Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

Then, as the state House was on the cusp of passing a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage” in May 2013, ICIRR passed a resolution supporting marriage redefinition in Illinois. The vote was the culmination of a new strategy to align advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants with homosexual “marriage” that has included a letter from 50 gay rights and amnesty organizations to President Obama last December.

CCHD – which is funded by an annual collection in Catholic churches – said the decision gave the ICIRR's component organizations a stark choice: Break with the group or lose Catholic grants.

In all, nine of 11 organizations in the coalition chose to accept marriage redefinition and give up nearly $300,000 in CCHD grants. That represents nearly one-quarter of CCHD's 40 annual grant rcipients.

Same-sex “marriage” supporters were enraged. The group Faith in Public Life accused CCHD and its backers of “Catholic McCarthyism.” Michael Sean Winter at the dissenting publication the National Catholic Reporter called CCHD's actions a “witch hunt.”

“If the groups that work on assisting immigrants in Illinois receive CCHD grants, and they happen to belong to this coalition for reasons that have nothing to do with the coalition's stance on gay marriage, why defund the good work they are admittedly doing?” he asked.

Jeanne Kracher, executive director of the Crossroads Fund of Chicago, said that, along with promoting marriage redefinition, many of the groups do a lot of good. “None of them have dropped what they’re doing and exclusively started working on gay marriage,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “It just seemed odd to say: ‘Last week we thought you were great but this week, we don’t.'”


But Church leaders pointed out that the definition of marriage one of its non-negotiable issues in the public square.

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George praised CCHD's decisive actions. “Donors to the CCHD give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith,” he wrote. “Organizations that apply for funds do so agreeing to this condition.” But ICIRR, “[f]or its own political advantage,” hastily “introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted.”

“It is intellectually and morally dishonest to use the witness of the Church’s concern for the poor as an excuse to attack the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage,” he wrote, citing Pope Francis' first encyclical, which defines marriage as “the stable union of a man and woman.”

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“Jesus is merciful, but He is not stupid; He knows the difference between right and wrong,” Cardinal George concluded. “Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.”

In that, he said, CCHD acted rightly.