State Tells Yakima Diocese Not to Collect $$$ for Anti-Equality Group

August 30, 2012

 

 

Bishop Joseph Tyson

Last week, we reported that Bishop Joseph Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington State, had instructed parishes to distribute collection envelopes in its parishes to raise money for Protect Marriage Washington, the state’s main organization working to defeat Referendum 74, a ballot initiative to uphold a law guaranteeing marriage equality.

This week, however, the Associated Press reports that the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has ruled that for parishes to collect the envelopes would be illegal and has informed the diocese of its decision:

“. . . Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, says no organization can be an intermediary for a contribution. She says the church can hand out envelopes, but either a member of Preserve Washington has to be on hand to collect them or parishioners must send them in individually.”

The diocese appears to be ready to dispute the PDC decision. Diocesan Chief of Staff Monsignor Robert Siler claims that the procedures are not a “collection” :

” ‘As far as I know, the procedures we sent to the parishes meet the requirement of state law,’ he said, noting that the envelopes are preaddressed to the campaign.

” ‘We’re not collecting and counting money,’ he said. ‘We’re just collecting envelopes and forwarding them.’ “

KIMATV.com quotes Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson’s comments on the PDC decision:

“Bishop Tyson says it’s just one big misunderstanding. In fact, he told KIMA that he has yet to see one of the donation envelopes.

“In the letter, where the Bishop specifically asked parish staff not to open the donation envelopes, but instead place them into the addressed security envelope and mail them directly to Preserve Marriage Washington. It says the collection is supposed to take place September 8th and 9th.

“ ‘It’s not our collection, we’re not collecting the money, it’s not our envelope. We’re not banking the money, we’re not rolling the money, we’re not collecting the money and we’re not taking the money. Preserve Marriage Washington is doing that…we’re going to follow the state law and I’m going to make sure that we’re doing that,’ said Bishop Tyson”

Catholics for Marriage Equality Washington State, the statewide Catholic organization working to support marriage equality in the referendum, praised the PDC’s decision.  Spokesperson Barbara Guzzo said:

“We are delighted by this ruling because we represent so many Catholics in those pews who not only find political fund raising inappropriate for their Sunday services, but also strongly disagree with the Bishop’s stance.

“We believe we should all be able to practice our faith without pressure from our Bishop or our parish priests to support an effort we oppose. “

Legal questions aside, the moral question remains:  why are church institutions raising money for a political organization?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


Yakima Diocese Will Collect $$$ for Political Campaign to End Marriage Equality

August 24, 2012

Diocese of Yakima

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.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

“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

“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


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