(CBS) – It’s a battle of heavyweights that might have seemed unimaginable: Francis Cardinal George versus Bill Daley, the current standard-bearer of the most prominent Roman Catholic political family in Chicago.
They’re fighting over whether the church is unfairly cutting off funds to immigrant groups because a coalition they belong to disagrees with the church on same-sex marriage.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.
The dispute centers on about $30,000 in grants and whether they’re being cut off by a vengeful church or forfeited by groups who knew the rules but chose not to follow them. Specifically, it’s about the promise to adhere to church teachings, violated when coalition leaders came out in support of same sex marriage.
“They’ve changed their identity when they identified with this cause that has nothing to do with the grant itself,” Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George says.
Daley, a lifelong Catholic and newly announced candidate for governor, disagrees.
“For organizations that are doing good deeds both that the church has already obviously acknowledged that they must be good, they’ve been funding them a for a while, to then yank that funding and then hurt people they’ve been working with I think is unfortunate,” he says.
Daley was among eight Catholic politicians who sent George a letter this week urging him not to use immigrants “pawns in a political battle.”
“I, for one, didn’t send the letter to manipulate some political advantage. I sent him a letter because it’s a major issue that I think the church is wrong on,” Daley says.
The Cardinal fired back in an open letter to Daley and others, accusing them of being “intellectually and morally dishonest.” He’s not convinced it’s not political.
“I’m sorry that it happened this way. It shouldn’t have, it wouldn’t have, except this is an Illinois gubernatorial year, it’s a political issue,” the cardinal said.
The Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition refused to comment or provide any information for this report. The cardinal says as long as coalition leaders support same-sex marriage, its member groups won’t get church funds — even though they’d be spending the money for exactly the same things they have in the past.