NEWS NOTES: February 6, 2012

Here are links to some items you might find of interest:

1) The Bangor Daily News reports that the “Maine Catholic bishop starts ministry to support people attracted to the same sex.”  The announcement of this “Courage” ministry comes just about a week after it was announced that Maine will have another referendum on marriage equality.   For a review of Courage’s ministry, see Bondings 2.0’s blog post about the establishment of such a program in Connecticut.

2) The Vista, the student newspaper of the University of San Diego, a Catholic school reports that “Joseph Colombo, religion professor, passes away.”    According to an obituary on the Gay San Diego website (, “Colombo served as the first openly gay chair of a theology department at a Roman Catholic University in the United States.”

3)  In the continuing controversy of what to name gay-straight alliances in Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools, a letter to the editor in the Toronto Star from Kevin O’Dwyer, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, notes that  while Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association has not supported students’ requests, his association, which represents teachers,  “has stated its support for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and other student-led anti-homophobia groups. ”  Read the latest full reporting on this matter in the Bondings 2.0 blog post from January 28, 2012.


Following the Knights of Columbus Money Trail

Catholic fundraising to work against marriage equality has been in the headlines lately.  Last week, we reported on the $750,000 that the Minnesota Catholic Conference raised to support efforts to adopt a state constitutional amendment against marriage equality.

This week’s news is about a more insidious form of Catholic fundraising.  Insidious because it is not immediately apparent that donations are being used to thwart marriage equality plans.  In the National Catholic Reporter, columnist Nicole Sotelo has explored some of the tricky methods used by the Knights of Columbus to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in the anti-marriage equality campaign:

“In 2008 and 2009, the Supreme Knight’s charitable report shows the organization gave more to “family life” projects than they did to “community projects.” On the surface this sounds benign, but “family life” is the Knights’ terminology for predominantly anti-gay initiatives, whereas “community projects” represents soup kitchens and food pantries.

“Among the ‘community projects,’ the Knights contributed $5,000 to disaster relief in Indiana and $3,000 to the community soup kitchen in New Haven, Conn., where the organization is headquartered, according to the 2010 Annual Report of the Supreme Knight. This deserves applause, until you learn that under the same category of ‘community projects,’ they financed a $530,000 contribution to the Becket Fund, an organization of politically controversial lawyers. Do these lawyers really need the Knights’ charity?”

As the years go by, the totals increase.  Sotelo reports that in 2009 and 2010:

“. . .the Knights donated almost $1.2 million to fund the bishops’ newly created committee that works against equal protection for gays and lesbians and dubbed it ‘charity’ in their annual report.”

I am not surprised that the Knights of  Columbus are working against marriage equality, but I am surprised that their public reporting of these funds is so ambiguous.

Sotelo raises several important questions about the Knights’ activities in her column, and I encourage all to read it in its entirety. You can access it here.  Reading it raised two more questions for me:  1) Why are the Knights reluctant to acknowledge the true purpose of these funds?; 2) Are the rank and file members of the Knights aware of how their donations are being used?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry