Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Catholic Charities -- not so charitable?

As they threatened previously, Catholic Charities is now closing down its foster care and adoption business in Washington, DC, lest they be forced to put children in same sex households (marriage equality becomes the law in the district starting tomorrow). Apparently, however, this is the only activity they will close-- although previously they had threatened to cut off the whole operation.

However, today it was revealed that they will cut benefits for staff
Catholic Charities will continue to honor the health plan coverage that current employees have as of March 1, 2010. As of March 2, a new plan will be in effect that will cover new employees and requests for benefit changes by current employees. The new plan will provide the same level of coverage for employees and their dependents that you now have, with one exception: spouses not in the plan as of March 1 will not be eligible for coverage in the future. If your spouse currently has coverage in our Plan, he/she may continue to be covered by the health benefit plan, even if you later add a dependent or decide to change your option level (e.g., change from low option to high option).

We sincerely regret that we have to make this change, but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith.
Are you clear about this? They will continue to cover anyone who currently has spousal benefits. Including people who are divorced and remarried. But No Fags.

Which is ironic, because apparently they have a lot of gay employees.
Orzechowski said many of the people who work for Catholic Charities and receive its services are from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, but giving same-sex spousal benefits to staff members or placing adoptive children with gay couples would violate Church tenets.
I wonder how those employees feel now.

Was this the only option? No.
The church faced two options with the approval of the new law, said Robert Tuttle, a George Washington University professor who studies the relationship between church and state. One choice was to expand the definition of domestic partner, as the Archdiocese in San Francisco did years ago, to include a parent, sibling or someone else in the household.

The second choice was to do what the Washington Archdiocese has done: eliminate benefits for all spouses.
Because this is much more dramatic, and pisses off the straights against those Selfish Gays. There is a a certain whiff of --shall we say, inconsistency? --- in the sorrowful crocodile tears of the poor, oppressed Roman Catholic institution, forced to harm the children because of those Selfish Homos. The Lead frames it more considerately than I would:
Another question perhaps worth raising: when is a "religious objection" not really a religious objection, but a political one? Catholic teaching does not recognize re-marriage after divorce without an annulment. Like same-sex couples, the heterosexual couples involved in such relationships are engaging in sex outside of what the church recognizes marriage. Yet the church willingly provides services and benefits to those couples. Why? There is no hierarchy of sinfulness in Catholic theology regarding sex outside of marriage. So why treat gay and lesbian couples differently that twice or thrice married heterosexual couples?

The church is entitled to object to same-sex marriage on whatever grounds it chooses. The rest of us are entitled to point out that the double standard it has constructed on this issue has no basis in its own theology.

Another black eye to Catholic Charities comes in the experience of two gay Iraqis, granted asylum in the US because being gay in Iraq can lead to rather gruesome forms of execution. Seems Catholic Charities is under contact with the US Government to provide such refugees with food and housing. Their story came out at the The 22nd National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.
One of the men explained, in halting English, that they had been placed in the most dangerous part of Houston in a community of homophobic Iraqis.  Because of their immigration status they cannot yet obtain work.

Catholic Charities barely meets their needs and points out to them that “families” deserve more services – and give them no other options.  Calls to the Houston LGBT Center had not been understood.  These men were so frightened and upset by being placed in a hostile environment with no recourse.

At this point in the session, many people had their hands up for questions.  The first to be called on happened to be the executive director of the Houston LGBT Center who had not known of their plight but offered to help immediately......I asked about the possibility of approaching Dignity (the LGBT Catholic organization) for assistance – but Bruce Knotts explained that since the Catholic Church does not recognize Dignity then it would not work with them.....

No thanks to Catholic charities. Here is the problem with faith based groups providing government services: they cannot be trusted to provide those services to those outside of their faith. They cannot be trusted to treat people of whom they disapprove with equal respect and decency. I'm sure they have fulfilled the bare minimum of their contractual requirements to feed and house these Iraqi refugees. But leaving these men isolated and hopeless in a strange land with the bare minimum can hardly be justified in humane terms, let alone "Christian" ones. God help any gay refugees who fall into the clutches of the uncharitable Catholic Charities.

I'm sure that they do some good work. I'm sure that there are many truly good souls working for them. But the same is true of many other charities, who do not discriminate. Supporting the work of a group who does discriminate is, in my opinion, a tacit approval of their bias.


Jarred said...

I will admit that I find it deliciously ironic that Catholic charities decided to quit offering spousal benefits to employees in order to maintain their "pro-family" position. I also note that whoever wrote the article had the presence of mind to avoid words like "pro-family," lest they actually draw attention to the irony.

Erika Baker said...

What about children?

IT said...

I am not sure what happens to children. I THINK they can cover legal dependents, but not certain.

ironically this decision means they (CC) will save quite a bit of money, since quality health care in this country depends on generous employer benefits.

NancyP said...

What irony are you talking about? I am quite sure that finding an excuse to not offer coverage to a significant number of employees was considered an up-side by the bishops. They would find it harder to "justify" if they couldn't blame it on teh gayz.

IT said...

I'd say it's the irony of a "family values" institution screwing families.

Jarred said...

IT hit it exactly. Sorry, I wasn't more clear.