Here’s the text of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley’s letter to Cardinal Francis George, regarding the Archdiocese of Chicago’s decision to cut off funding to groups that belong to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The coalition ran afoul of the church this year when it announced its support for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Daley is campaigning as a strong supporter of marriage equality, tweeting this morning, “People should be allowed to love who they love without judgment from anyone.”
It has come to my attention that the Archdiocese of Chicago is considering cutting off funding to local groups in the Chicago area that work with the poor for their participation in an immigrant rights coalition that endorsed marriage equality in Illinois.
I am writing you today to urge you and the Archdiocese not to cut off funding to critical anti-poverty programs over a completely unrelated issue. As someone who believes that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, a value I learned in my Catholic upbringing, I am a strong supporter of both marriage equality and immigration reform. I believe we can respect religious freedom, including the freedom of the Catholic Church to have its own views of marriage, while still allowing all people to be treated equally when they go to the county clerk’s office for a marriage license.
But my view on marriage equality and those of immigrant aid groups who have similar views really are irrelevant to our collective duty to help those who are less fortunate. As a Catholic, I have always been proud of my church’s commitment to social justice. Through Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other programs, my family and thousands of other Catholics in Illinois have helped our brothers and sisters in need.
I am also proud our church has been such a leader on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. But for the church to turn its back on its long-standing work with groups that aid the poor over a completely unrelated issue is injustice, plain and simple.
Pope Benedict made the point clearly in 2009 when he wrote, “If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is in inseparable from charity, and intrinsic to it.” The path of justice should lead the Archdiocese to leave these two issues separate and continue to seek justice through charitable works.
The letter positions Daley as a supporter of both gay rights and immigrant rights. His Democratic primary, Gov. Pat Quinn, is a favorite of minorities and liberal special interest groups, so Daley needs to find a way to break into that support. Quinn has promised to sign the marriage equality bill if the Senate passes it, endearing himself to the LGBTQ community. And according to a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll conducted last month, Quinn leads Daley 45 percent to 36 percent among Latinos.
So is this an attempt by Daley to win over the left by beating on his archbishop? The Daleys are one of the most prominent Catholic families in American politics -- Richard J. Daley attended Mass every morning.
Until now, they’ve been local politicians, who didn’t need to cast votes on issues such as abortion or gay marriage, on which the Democratic Party differs from the Catholic Church. Daley doesn’t need to worry about alienating conservative Catholics, because they’ll all vote Republican. He needs to worry more about winning the support of liberal Democrats.