Catholic Charities is a network of charities whose aim is "to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same." It is one of the largest charities in the United States. Catholic Charities traces its origin to an orphanage founded in 1727 in New Orleans, Louisiana by the French Ursuline Sisters.
Catholic Charities, USA (CCUSA), with headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, was founded in 1910 as the National Conference of Catholic Charities. In 2010, Catholic Charities' centennial year, more than 1,700 agencies, institutions and organizations composed the Catholic Charities network - including individual organizations of the dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Chicago. About $2 billion of its budget now comes from the Faith-Based Initiatives Office of the federal government. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar donated to Catholic Charities agencies goes directly to programs and services. In 2008, Catholic Charities agencies served over 8 million individuals.
Together, with the local, diocesan-associated Catholic Charities, it is the second largest social service provider in the United States, surpassed only by the federal government.
Catholic Charities USA supports Catholic Charities agencies by enhancing the delivery of quality human services; strengthening mission-grounded leadership, Catholic identity and parish engagement; building up leadership and organizational capacity; and fortifying disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
Catholic Charities uses about 89% of its revenue for program costs.
Arcadia, FL, August 29, 2004 -- A Catholic Relief Charities volunteer cooks burgers for residents affected by Hurricane Charlie
Catholic Charities received a total of nearly $2.9 billion from the US government in 2010. In comparison, its annual revenue was $4.67 billion. Only about $140 million came from donations from diocesan churches, the remainder coming from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees, and community donations.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation
Boston. Massachusetts has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private employment, housing, and public accommodation since 1989. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts began on May 17, 2004. Between about 1985 and 1995, Catholic Charities of Boston, which contracted with the state's Department of Social Services and accepted state funds in support of their adoption services program, placed 13 children with gay couples out of 720 adoptions. According to the Boston Globe, "The children placed with the gay couples are among those most difficult to place" because they were older or had physical or emotional difficulties. Catholic Charities President Rev. J. Bryan Hehir explained the practice: "If we could design the system ourselves, we would not participate in adoptions to gay couples, but we can't. We have to balance various goods." Peter Meade, the Chairman of the Board of Catholic Charities Boston, took the position that the agency should welcome same-sex couples as parents: "What we do is facilitate adoptions to loving couples. I see no evidence that any child is being harmed." A spokesperson for the agency said that children placed with same-sex couples fared as well as those place with different-sex couples. The agency had never sought an exemption from the state's anti-discrimination statute. In December, the lay-dominated board of Catholic Charities of Boston voted unanimously to continue gay adoptions. On February 28, 2006, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and Hehir met with Governor Mitt Romney to make the case for an exemption from the state's non-discrimination statute, but Romney told them he was unable to help. They considered and rejected the idea of a lawsuit. On March 10, O'Malley and leaders of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston announced that the agency would terminate its adoption work effective June 30, rather than continue to place children under the guardianship of homosexuals. The statement did not distinguish between gay and lesbian individuals and those in same-sex relationships. Hehir said "This is a difficult and sad day for Catholic Charities. We have been doing adoptions for more than 100 years." Romney immediately announced that he would submit legislation "to ensure that religious institutions are able to participate in the important work of adoption". Some observers thought its prospects were nil and others saw Romney's announcement as part of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Illinois. Following the legalization of same-sex civil unions effective June 1, 2011, Illinois required Catholic Charities, because it accepted public funds, to provide adoption and foster-care services to same-sex couples in the same manner that they serviced different-sex couples. Rather than comply, Catholic Charities closed most of its Illinois affiliates. They had provided such services for forty years.
Washington, D.C. In November 2009, Archbishop Donald Wuerl wrote that he recognized that Washington, D.C., officials were intent on legalizing same-sex marriage, but asked for stronger language to protect individuals and institutions with religious objections to the policy. He wrote that "Despite the headlines, there has been no threat or ultimatum to end services" and explained that Catholic Charities had contracts with the District to provide "homeless services, mental health services, foster care and more." The law legalizing same-sex marriage passed in December 2009 with the first marriages set to occur on March 9, 2010. Faced with the law's requirements, the Catholic Charities in D.C. decided to stop providing health benefits to its married employees rather than provide them to married same-sex couples as well. Spouses already enrolled in the plan were not affected.
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
- Catholic Relief Services