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It's been over a year since the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, submitted his resignation letter—mandatory when princes of the Catholic Church turn 75—to then- Pope Benedict XVI. In a highly unusual turn of events, Benedict was the one who resigned. That left Cardinal George—whose intellectual vigor is matched by a forceful defense of the church—still on the job.
Some wish he weren't. In late July, eight Illinois state lawmakers signed an open letter criticizing Cardinal George, among others, for threatening to end the church's financial support for a rights group. The church had cited the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, because the group came out for the legalization of same-sex marriage in May. The politicians—all Catholic Democrats—said the threat of a funding withdrawal was "not worthy of the church we know, love and respect." They said Cardinal George and others were using "immigrants and those who seek to help them as pawns in a political battle."
But the decision had nothing to do with politics. The church doles out money to organizations on the assumption that they will not violate church teachings. If a church-funded environmental group announced its support for abortion, for instance, it could lose funding.
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