Sacramento diocese cuts off funds to homeless charity after it names ‘gay marriage’ supporter and abortion advocate as executive director

The Diocese of Sacramento has decided to end two decades of financial support to a non-profit agency serving the homeless after the center named as its director a Methodist minister known for her outspoken support of abortion and same-sex marriage.

The homeless center — Francis House — had its beginnings 42 years ago as a ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Sacramento, but later became an independent non-profit with no affiliation to the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, the diocese has continued to make annual contributions to the work of Francis House for the past 20 years.

In April 2011, Francis House named Methodist minister Rev. Faith Whitmore as its executive director. Whitmore, former senior pastor of St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Sacramento, has a long record of public advocacy of same-sex marriage and abortion. She once served as a Planned Parenthood board member, and, when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California in 2008, she defied her own church’s teaching at the time and began marrying homosexual couples.

Whitmore’s former church, St. Mark’s Methodist, has long allowed its fellowship hall to be used by the dissident Catholic group Call to Action, whose Sacramento affiliate notes on its website, “All of our events are held at St. Mark’s Methodist Church.” On April 4, the group plans a showing of the anti-Catholic film “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” at St. Mark’s. 

After the diocese learned of Whitmore’s appointment as executive director of Francis House, it sent a letter to the charity saying that, because of Whitmore’s record of public opposition to Catholic teaching, it was “impossible for the diocese to continue funding Francis House.”

The letter was signed by Fr. Michael Kiernan, diocesan director of social services, who hand-delivered it to Whitmore in late January, according to press accounts. Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto approved the decision, diocesan spokesman Kevin Eckery told the Sacramento Bee.

Eckery, according to the Bee, said that the non-profit’s origins as a Catholic agency means that “a lot of people still think Francis House is a Catholic charity,” which could lead to the mistaken impression that the diocese agrees with Whitmore’s views.

“Francis House is a great charity, and we respect the fact that the director’s views are different from the diocese’s,” the Bee quoted Eckery as saying. “But money collected during the annual appeal is very much Catholic parishioner money. Why would we ask someone to contribute money to an organization and ask them to overlook all of those things that undermine the church’s teachings?”

In May of 2008, Whitmore delivered the invocation at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol held to protest the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding Proposition 8, and she told the Bee she had no intentions of retracting her statements favoring same-sex marriage or abortion — though she noted she did not make them on behalf of Francis House.

In January of 2010, Whitmore’s church allowed Call to Action to use its fellowship hall for a talk by excommunicated Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois, an advocate for women’s ordination who has repeatedly defied the Vatican. His topic: “Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling.”

The amount of money the diocese had been giving to Francis House averaged between $7500 and $10,000 a year, according to the Bee.


Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 4:54 AM By Life Lady
Thank you, Bishop Soto, for your leadership and faithful response. We look for your other brother bishops to respond to attacks from dissident Catholics and others in the same manner. Such a clear and loving response does our souls so much good in that you are upholding the faith and defending it. God bless you and I thank God for your being such a faithful shepherd of the Church and your flock in California and Sacramento.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 5:56 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 
Thank you Bishop.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 6:07 AM By St. Christopher
This is exactly right! Publicly reject association with other groups, no matter what, whose members advocate behavior inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Most bishops, of course, will not do this, as it will make them unpopular, and newspapers will say bad things about them. Standing up for the Faith is difficult. Well done, Bishop Soto. Now, let’s see even more masses in the Extraordinary Form in Sacramento.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 6:19 AM By Robert Lockwood
Thank you Bishop Soto.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 6:58 AM By charlio
Some time in the 1980s, my mother tried to attend a noon-time mass at St. Francis. She was forbidden entry by a woman wearing a kind of uniform – “this is a private mass”. In the Universal (Catholic) Church, there are no private liturgical celebrations of any kind – baptism or wedding.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 7:08 AM By Cody in Tucson
Bravo Bishop Soto. One of my big gripes with my favorite bishop is his long standing relationships with people and groups that support/encourage intrinsic evils in order to advance their common socialist/Marxist/Alinsky agendas. Since in past years 40%, and this year close to 100%, of the 26 alleged ministries founded by the local Annual Appeal are not publicly known then how much ‘parishioner money’ is being laundered to groups supporting evil? Don’t know, can’t see behind the curtain!

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 7:38 AM By JMJ
It must have been difficult for Fr. Kiernan to not only write that letter, but to also deliver it in person. I know that there will be many critics attacking him and the Church for doing what had to be done, but, then again, what did they do to Jesus and the Apostles and so many of our Saints? Thanks be to God!!! +JMJ+

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 7:53 AM By hosemonkey
Thank you, Bp.Soto, for guarding the faithful as a true Catholic Bishop should.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:02 AM By OneoftheSheep
In these times, when money is scarce, and the good Catholic people of Sacramento work hard to support worthy charities, I would say this is a necessary step to protect the integrity of the Annual Catholic appeal. Sad that the selection of the Francis House Charity was made so poorly.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:04 AM By Peggy
Kudos to Bp. Soto and Fr. Kiernan. I pray that the bishop of SF would learn from this and stop support of PICO, SF Organizing Project, CCHD and all such organizations that are antithetical to Church teaching.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:09 AM By Laurette Elsberry
The Bishop’s action is correct. If I had no other reason to believe this, I am sure of it by the vicious anti-Catholic letters to the editor that appear in today’s Sacramento Bee. When it comes to proper and called-for actions on the part of the Church, the Bee is quick to insult and mock what the Church does. By letting its readers join in, they can add to the anti-church retoric by the “free speech” of its core anti-Catholic readers. Lettes approving the Church’s decision will not be published.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:23 AM By grampsc
I sense some Bishops have gotten the message and are giving the message, Sacramento Diocese is to be congratulated.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:19 AM By Catherine
This is excellent news! Thank you so very much Bishop Jaime Soto for taking action and courageously leading the good example for others to follow! The Catholic Church should never donate money to help others finance error or confusion that promotes serious sin. Perhaps the $10,000 a year saved can be given to the Dominican Sisters, of Mary Mother of the Eucharist to purchase Youth Catechisms of the Catholic Church to assist in charitably teaching the upcoming Catholic youth of Sacramento the real meaning of false charity.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:31 AM By Anne T.
Thank you Bishop Soto. Finally something is being done about these false “Catholic” organizations.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:40 AM By Doc Mugwump
Thank you Bishop Soto. We need leadership for the People of God and you are showing it here. Sorry for this once Catholic Apostolate to go so low…. We will pray for them.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:46 AM By
I too wish to thank Bishop Soto and Father Kiernan. When I was a kid (long time ago) there was a popular song entitled “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t” and it always comes to mind when I read comments by some of our hierarchy because I can’t tell whether they’re for or against or halfway in between or something completely different.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 10:00 AM By Larry
Given her public record, why has it taken the diocese so long to pull the funding? She was put in charge of the charity nearly a year ago. Eleven months to take the appropriate action?

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 11:51 AM By Martin
Congratulations to Bishop Soto for continuing his faithful witness and leadership.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 12:51 PM By Anne T.
As the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word out of the mouth of God.” These poor can go to other Catholic charities and people who do not support abortion and sodomous sexual relationships.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 1:40 PM By Paul
Kudos to Bishop Soto! We need more like him to send out a message loud and clear that Catholics do not compromise with evil.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 2:32 PM By Kurt
Kudos to the Bishop!!!

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 4:58 PM By Camille
Isn’t it interesting that the devil always takes a religious name? In the L.A. area an abortion promoting clinic within a high school has taken the name of St. John’s clinic, but its just another federal gov’t funded Planned Parenthood adjunct. Catholic Charities has done the same thing. They aren’t very Catholic in the services they provide and they ahve said repeatedly that they are independent of the church’s directives.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 7:33 PM By ems
Way to go Bishop Soto! Thank you for your leadership in this. Please continue to scrutinize the monetary support these groups get. We don’t want our hard earned dollars to support anything that would remotely go against the beautiful teachings of our Church.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 7:49 PM By Jim
Thank you Bishop Soto!

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:02 PM By lisag
Liberal social justice groups will use Catholic money as long as we give it to them. Time to cut them all off. No abortion money and no gay marriage money, etc. Thanks Bishop Soto.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 8:50 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Larry, 10:00 AM, “Better late than never!” God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 9:00 PM By Jeff
God bless Bishop Soto and all like him.

Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 10:42 PM By Abeca Christian
Good question Larry.

Posted Saturday, March 10, 2012 7:56 AM By CalWalkr
While the amount of money is not large, the symbology of this courageous and important stand by Bishop Soto is enormous. Well done Bishop, you make us all proud to call ourselves Catholic.

Posted Saturday, March 10, 2012 9:34 AM By Wynette Sills
Thank you Bishop Soto and Father Kiernan~ my prayers are with you this week, as the public backlash for doing what is right draws us even closer to His Cross this Lenten season.