Catholic Charities Questioned in Debate on Conscience Protection

During debate on HCR 41, some legislators remarked that Catholic Charities and other Catholic groups receive large amounts of funding from the government. While it was not overtly stated, the suggestion appears to be that because Catholic groups partner with government agencies to provide services to the poor, to orphans, to the elderly and to the sick that those Catholic institutions surrender their right to free exercise of religion and must comply with government mandates that violate their conscience.

The Catholic Church, however, can only achieve its divine mission in charity when it is permitted in freedom to practice acts of charity. Freedom to undertake these acts of charity in cooperation with government reveals “a growing, inescapable sense of solidarity between all peoples” (Deus Caritas Est, par. 24). “This situation has led to the birth and the growth of many forms of cooperation between State and Church agencies, which have borne fruit.”

As Pope Benedict remarked,

Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies too, favoring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service. (Deus Caritas Est, par. 25)

Partnering with federal, state and local government, and with other charitable partners, Catholic Charities of Kansas City alone serves 200,000 needy people each year, 75 to 78 percent of whom are non-Catholic.

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