The Diocese of Yakima, Washington State, has announced that it plans to take up special collections to support efforts to defeat the state’s referendum to enact marriage equality in November.
“Labor Day weekend marks the official beginning of what the three Catholic dioceses in the state are calling Preserve Marriage Month. In Yakima that means organizing an educational program and fundraising campaign to inform parishioners about Catholic teaching on marriage and church opposition to Referendum 74, which would affirm the state’s same-sex marriage law.
“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.”
The money collected will go directly to a political organization working to repeal the state’s newly-minted marriage equality law. The dollars will not be considered tax-deductible or a contribution to the church:
“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.
“. . . . He proposed that pastors suggest not only that parishioners inform themselves and others about the referendum, to be voted on in November, but also that they ‘can contribute to the campaign by using the envelope in this week’s bulletin to make a generous donation to Preserve Marriage Washington.’ “
The envelope reportedly is addressed to Preserve Marriage Washington.
Monsignor Robert Siler, the diocesan chief of staff, said:
“To be clear, this is basically a contribution to a political campaign, and these are not considered tax-deductible church donations.”
Of course, not all Catholics support such a fundraising campaign:
“Dr. Kevin Walsh of Toppenish is uncomfortable with what he views as picking only a few issues from papal encyclicals about social justice and raising them to the level of national causes.
” ‘It’s an example of church leadership using the pulpit for what they see as a moral issue, but it’s isolated. It’s not part of a package to make life better for everybody,’ he said.
“Walsh added,’I think it’s misguided. We should be struggling toward inclusion instead of excluding people.’ “
The diocese has not set a fundraising goal for the collection. Perhaps that was done as a strategic move so that they don’t end up in the embarrassing position of falling way short of the goal–which would be proof of what polls are consistently showing: although Catholic bishops oppose marriage equality, Catholic people in the pews are overwhelmingly supportive of it.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry