DENVER Compañeros, a Durango immigrant-rights group, has more than doubled the funding it lost this spring from the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development pulled the plug on its $30,000 annual grant to Compañeros when the Durango group refused to pull out of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. CIRC is a member of One Colorado, a gay-rights group that advocates for civil unions a stance that is against Catholic doctrine.
The lost grant made up half of Compañeros annual budget. But the group has raised $60,000 since a national story about the situation appeared in The New York Times, said Nicole Mosher, executive director of Compañeros.
Now we actually have twice as much funding as we were threatened with losing. Its just been amazing, Mosher said.
Half was raised through individual donations, and the Gill Foundation provided a $30,000 matching grant.
The Gill Foundation, based in Denver, provides funding to gay and lesbian organizations, as well as to other nonprofits in Colorado. It was founded by software millionaire Tim Gill, who is one of the states top donors to Democratic candidates.
In addition to the Gill money, Mosher accepted a $7,000 check Friday from Catholics United, a group of rank-and-file Catholics who disagree with church leaders on the Compañeros issue.
James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, presented the check to Mosher in front of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver. About 200 people donated to Catholics United for Compañeros.
Salt said members of his group want to take up the slack left by the official churchs decision to de-fund Compañeros.
It reflects a sad reality in the Catholic Church today, that the Catholic bishops in Colorado decided to bend towards the pressure of the far right, to put a divisive political agenda before the needs of the immigrant community, Salt said.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development remains important, Salt said.
Its undoubtedly one of the most important funding sources for anti-poverty programs in America today, he said.
A statement from the Pueblo Diocese said church leaders gave Compañeros several opportunities to back away from the group that supports civil unions.
The (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) and CCHD believe that it is simple common sense that the Catholic Church would refrain from funding groups that publicly take or work for positions against Church teaching. Moreover, the Catholic Church has no moral obligation to fund groups unaffiliated with it, according to the Dioceses statement.
Compañeros provides services and advice to immigrants in Southwest Colorado, without regard to whether they are in the country illegally.
One client, who gave only her first name, Mariana, joined Mosher to accept the $7,000 check Friday.
Mariana, originally from Indonesia, moved to Durango four months ago. She has been in the United States for seven years, but she didnt know anyone when she arrived in town. Compañeros helped her find housing and navigate the application for U.S. citizenship, she said.
Mosher said the first priority for Compañeros is to use the windfall to establish a dependable funding source, because she realizes this springs fundraising was a one-time event, unlike the annual grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.