U.S. Catholic Bishops' Partnership with Feds on Immigration Belies Deeper Conflicts
In response to President Obama’s executive order last week banning “all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees,” the U.S. Catholic bishops have responded by decrying the order as “unprecedented and extreme.” What they didn’t say, however, is that they would stop relying on partnerships with the federal government to fund their immigrant programs.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) states that it is “the largest resettlement agency in the United States.” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles writes in the MRS latest annual report:
Advocacy on behalf of immigration reform and in pursuit of greater protections for migrant children, victims of human trafficking, refugees, and other people on the move is not something that MRS can do alone. Particular thanks has to be given to the great network of diocesan and other partner agencies and the support of countless individuals and institutions across the country doing heroic work to save and rebuild lives. Only in collaboration with these organizations and individuals is the Church able to amplify its voice in defense of the voiceless and the marginalized.
According to MRS, “upwards of 90,000” young illegal immigrants were projected to arrive between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.
Additionally, MRS shows a total budget of approximately $71 million, of which nearly $66 million – or about 93% – has come from federal grants and contracts.
A statement from the U.S. bishops’ conference, however, says Obama’s executive order barring federal contract recipients from any form of discrimination against LGBT employees “should be opposed.”
“As a result, even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct,” the bishops articulate, and they add that the executive order “also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation.”
Indeed, in his now customary dictatorial fashion, Barack Obama’s executive order established a policy that Congress would likely not have approved. Even when the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed in the U.S. Senate last year, the bill still included a provision that exempted religious employers.
This religious exemption was denounced several weeks ago by LGBT rights groups such as the ACLU, GLAD, and Lambda who clearly wanted faith groups to be subjugated to such a law.
In fact, LGBT activists withdrew their support of ENDA, stating:
Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable.
Nevertheless, the bishops show no inclination to address whether they should be “coexisting” and “cooperating” with the federal government in the first place.
Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News (CWN), wonders what good the bishops’ call to “oppose” the executive order will do.
“[T]here is no point in a lobbying campaign,” he writes. “Maybe the bishops could organize a letter-writing campaign, hoping to change the President’s mind, but anyone who has been watching this show for the past six years realizes that would be a waste of time and energy.”
Instead, Lawler suggests to the bishops, “Stop taking federal contracts. President Obama doesn’t want help from the Catholic Church. Say it’s a deal; don’t give him any.”
It’s not likely, however, that the bishops will take the hint, even though the President has shown that he has been paying back the LGBT activists who bundled for him in his re-election campaign on an almost continual basis. In fact, the bishops seem to have gone along with the plan to some extent.
In November of last year, for example, Breitbart News reported that the bishops’ MRS had revised and expanded its training to workers in federally funded refugee resettlement programs to “address the needs of particularly vulnerable groups of children, including youth who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.”
Updated Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) training manuals, published by the U.S. Catholic bishops and funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services (HHS), advise staff members on how to be sensitive to the sexual needs of LGBT young migrants while they make “no reference to moral law or the practice of virtue,” as CWN observed.
While Obama’s LGBT executive order currently applies only to federal contracts, and not grants, it’s likely, given how the current administration operates, that extension will be made soon, especially with LGBT activists pressuring a president who has been threatened with impeachment.
What would happen if the bishops told Obama, “We’re done,” during the current flooding of the U.S. border with illegal young immigrants?
“Imagine the chaos that would ensue if ‘the largest resettlement agency in the United States’ – the bishops’ MRS office – withdrew from that effort,” Lawler writes. “For decades, some concerned Catholics have warned that by accepting (and, more important, energetically lobbying for) government support, Catholic charities have compromised their independence. President Obama has now illustrated that point.”
Given that, from its annual report, the bishops’ MRS program would shrink down to almost nothing without federal grants, Lawler concludes, “What would be left would be a recognizably Catholic charity, not a federal program administered through the bishops’ conference.”