Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Bishop Wuerl and the Crisis of Heroes
The DC Council voted to recognize same-sex marriage and created a crisis for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Washington by forcing them to provide health benefits to homosexual couples. The Diocese could not extend this coverage and the Washington Post suggests that the Church had two options: it could expand benefits to include same-sex partnerships or it could eliminate spousal benefits. Both of these responses are problematic and unjust. Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl has decided to comply with the law by eliminating benefits for the spouses of new employees in the Catholic Charities office. While this does allow the Church to continue to receive the $22 million in support from the city, this choice makes life more difficult for families who will work for Catholic Charities in the future. Although current employees may continue to receive spousal benefits, the actual cost of compliance will be felt by the families of future employees. The WP reports that currently less than 100 of the 850 employees use the spousal benefit, it is reasonable to expect that this number would grow as the nation’s economy worsens. Current spouses suffering future unemployment will not be able to gain coverage. The bishop’s solution is to make it more difficult for families who will come to work for Catholic Charities in the future.
Archbishop Wuerl, there is another option: you can refuse the city’s money. Twenty-two million dollars is not enough to sacrifice your conscience and make life more difficult for families that fall under your stewardship as pastor of the Archdiocese. Your willingness to receive this money is a sign of weakness. You have reacted to one injustice by choosing another. Our culture has few heroes; as a bishop you are called to a higher standard. You cannot be afraid to stand-out and oppose our civilization when it directly challenges you. You did not seek this battle, but you are called to confront it. Do not be afraid of the criticism you will receive and do not forget your responsibility to the faithful. The organization you command, Catholic Charities, does not exist only for those who receive its services; it also exists for its workers and their families. Today, you have chosen to hurt those who will work for Catholic Charities in the future. You have chosen an easy solution that will hurt families. Is this really the result you want? Will you let the DC Council harm your worker's families? You have another option.