Catholic Church, D.C. say compromise still possible on same-sex measure

By Michelle Boorstein After weeks of heated back-and-forth between the D.C. City Council and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, could … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein

After weeks of heated back-and-forth between the D.C. City Council and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, could one side be backing down? And if so, which side?

The Council gave its final approval Tuesday to the measure, which archdiocesan officials say will require the church to violate its teachings if it wants to keep partnering with the District on social service work. Church officials have said they cannot, among other things, extend benefits to partners of gays and lesbians they employ if that means acknowledging those relationships as “marriages,” nor do they want to put adoptive or foster children with same-sex couples. Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to sign the bill this week and then it has a 30-day review period with Congress before taking effect likely in the spring.

The church was unable, despite its lobbying efforts, to get the council to amend the measure, but on Tuesday church officials seemed to be backing away from the idea that tens of millions of dollars of social service programming was about to collapse. Before the vote, church officials had said if the proposal passed, it would make it impossible for the two sides to work together.

“Catholic Charities is committed to working with the City Council, DC agencies and the Mayor to move forward in the most positive manner possible for the residents of the District who rely on our services,” said a statement last night by Catholic Charities.

And from the archdiocese: “We are committed to serving the needs of the poor and look forward to working in partnership with the District of Columbia consistent with the mission of the Catholic Church,” said its statement.

But how? Is this a game of chicken or has a deal already been struck that both sides don’t want to admit – and risk angering their constituents? Church officials won’t be specific about what compromises they might be willing to live with nor what – if anything – is on the table. And Council officials simply say the two sides are still talking. An amendment could be added, but would have to go back through the full council process, which could take months.

Let us know if you have any concrete tips on how this might get resolved.

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  • Daniel84

    Is this just an issue of receiving money from DC or is it an issue of having any presence at all in DC?If the latter, then this is a clear example of how religious freedoms are limited by legalizing same-sex marriage. Being forced to recognize same-sex marriages in order to continue to do their normal activities (in this case helping the poor) is exactly why religious groups generally oppose legalizing same-sex marriage. I hope that Catholic Charities stands by its theology and makes this a case example of why same-sex marriage limits religious freedom.If it is simply a matter of funding, Catholic Charities could refuse funding that requires it to recognize same-sex marriage and slash (but not eliminate) its programs. That seems like the best compromise.If DC is forcing Catholic Charities to recognize same-sex marriage and is not funding it, then Catholic Charities should take legal action to defend its first amendment rights.

  • lepidopteryx

    Does Catholic charities employ heterosexuals who have been divorced and remarried? Who are in interfaith marriages? Who were married by a JP rather than clergy? If so, do they offer benefits to the spouses of these employees? After all, the Catholic church does not recognize any of these marriages.

  • Rosary1

    Actually, you should read your Catholic Catechism more clearly; all these examples of marriages outside the church may be regularized within the Church.

  • bobbarnes

    The ‘Church’ isn’t seeking to compromise. They are seeking to to establish a LGBT version of Jim Crow laws. We live in a grown up world and invite them to join us.

  • AxelDC

    Catholic Charities should not receive any city funds. Let secular organizations provide the same services without all the religious strings attached.If Catholic Charities cannot treat all citizens with dignity and respect, then they have no business taking public funds. Let Catholics fund Catholics, and the rest of can lives are lives without their theocracy.This isn’t the 15th C, and the Pope no longer rules the West.

  • Paganplace

    Just another case of the Church trying to force its ways onto the laws of the Republic, holding the poor people whose social services it ‘privatized’ *hostage* to its will if the government won’t commit injustice upon people they don’t happen to like. They show what their priorities are, c learly enough, just as they’ve done before in New York and Boston: “If you don’t marginalize LBGT people we demand you treat as undesireables and unequal in their own country, then we “can’t” help but let these people we’ve made dependent on us with government funding (including gay tax dollars) starve.”

  • grossdc2

    I am afraid that my church is out of step with modern society. I find myself appalled and offended that Archbishop Weurl would threaten people (the poor) who have no way of defending themselves. JESUS would NOT behave that way or condone any one else doing so