Employees Support Planned Parenthood, Homosexuality
In July of this year, the Lepanto Institute published an article about the corporate sponsors of the Association of United States Catholic Priest’s (AUSCP) annual assembly. One of the corporate sponsors, who took out a full page ad in the AUSCP’s assembly program book for a listed $6,000, is the popular charity ‘Unbound.’ Unbound, formerly called the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, is a nonprofit, lay-run sponsorship organization designed to provide food, education, clothing and access to medical care to children and elderly.
The Lepanto Institute reached out to Unbound on 2 July, asking if the organization was aware of the AUSCP’s promotion of women’s ordination, homosexuality, priestless parishes, and heresy, but never received a response. Since the publication of our article on Unbound’s contribution to the AUSCP, many faithful Catholics have emailed, called, and written to Unbound to express their concern, and Unbound finally responded to them with this boilerplate statement:
“Thank you for your recent letter. We appreciate your feedback. Deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching, Unbound’s mission is to serve the poor and marginalized of the world. In order to do that, we engage with various individuals and groups from throughout the Catholic community. This includes exhibiting at conferences. Sometimes, along the way, these groups may not always agree with each other.
If you have questions about the AUSCP’s policies, it may be most effective to speak with them directly, as we do not get involved in doctrinal disagreements between Catholics. Our focus is on creating pathways for people who want to put their faith into action in serving families and elders around the world who are overcoming poverty. Unbound continues to be guided by Catholic social teaching and our shared values, keeping our sponsored friends and their families our priority in all that we do. If you have concerns about that, I am happy to pass them along.” (emphasis added)
Taken at face value, this statement gives the impression that the AUSCP is simply one among many organizations with whom Unbound works, and that its ideological positions are simply a representation among the spectrum of beliefs of this multitude of groups. However, upon further investigation, it has become clear that Unbound’s connection with AUSCP is not as incidental as it would like for us to believe.
For instance, the Church Relations Director at Unbound is Paco Wertin. On Facebook, Wertin “likes” the Association of United States Catholic Priests, as well as AUSCP ally, FutureChurch, The Nuns on the Bus, National Catholic Reporter and Pro-LGBT activist, Fr. James Martin.
In addition to this, Wertin has attended the AUSCP’s annual conference for the last 2 years. Here is a picture from the AUSCP’s page, showing him at the 2018 conference in Albuquerque (left) and a picture of him attending the AUSCP’s annual assembly in 2019 (right).
In the AUSCP’s most recent newsletter, the AUSCP identifies Unbound as “a major sponsor of the AUSCP Assemblies” and that “Several AUSCP members are weekend preachers for Unbound.” In this blurb, the AUSCP directs its members to contact Paco Wertin if they are interested in volunteering for Unbound:
Clearly, Unbound’s connection with the AUSCP is not incidental. And given that Paco Wertin serves as the “Church Relations” director, it might explain why so many of the priests listed as “Preachers” on the Unbound “Presenters” page are associated with the AUSCP. The following “preachers” are in some way affiliated or connected to the AUSCP:
Rev. Bob Bonnot – Fr. Bonnot’s biographical profile on Unbound’s Presenters page used to say that “he remains involved in the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP).” Since our report this summer about Unbound’s financial support for the AUSCP, this line has since disappeared from Fr. Bonnot’s profile. And it should be noted that Fr. Bonnot isn’t just “active” with the AUSCP, he is the executive director of the AUSCP and has been the chairman of the Leadership Team since 2014 (3 years after the AUSCP’s founding). And in 2018, Fr. Bonnot donated between $25,000 – $30,000 to the AUSCP.
Rev. John Kirwin – Fr. Kirwin was a donor to the AUSCP in 2018, and signed a letter in 2013 supporting Fr. Tony Flannery, the founder of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland. The letter states:
We want to join the ACP in support of Father Tony Flannery in the hope that his many years of dedicated faithful priestly ministry might be respected in the discussion with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
We are concerned about similar penalties imposed upon American priests such as Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Fr. Bill Brennan, S.J. Not all of our members may agree with the statements of these priests, but they deserve to be treated more compassionately by Vatican officials. The fact that their penalties are more severe than those imposed upon bishops and priests involved in the recent paedophilia scandals certainly raises questions of fairness and justice.
Fr. Flannery was suspended by the Vatican in 2012 for actively and publicly promoting women’s ordination to the priesthood, contraception and homosexuality.
Rev. Robert Beirne – Fr. Beirne was the 2018 chair of the AUSCP’s Ad Hoc Working Group for the Youth Synod. In April of 2018, he co-signed an AUSCP letter addressed to Paul Jarzembowski, the USCCB’s Assistant Director for the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. The purpose of the letter was to present to the USCCB a report prepared by the AUSCP “as a contribution to the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Much of the report focused on the acceptance of homosexuality within the Church, such as the report’s statement number 10, under the topic, “Identify 2 positive things Young Persons can offer church and/or society.” The AUSCP report responded, “Their experienced gift of God’s love in the full spectrum of sexual expressions.”
Rev. Joseph Gosslin – Fr. Gosslin is a 2018 donor to the AUSCP.
Rev. Bob Hasenkamp – Fr. Hasenkamp is a 2018 donor to the AUSCP.
Rev. Robert McAleer – Fr. McAleer was identified in a 2018 AUSCP newsletter as an AUSCP member. In a 2017 newsletter from the Catholic publication of the Diocese of Davenport, Fr. McAleer was identified as attending the AUSCP annual assembly, and having been actively involved with the AUSCP since its founding in 2011. He is also a donor to the AUSCP in 2018.
It’s bad enough that Unbound took out a $6,000 ad in the AUSCP’s assembly program book, but to brush it off as though this was an incidental matter without any further association is deceitful. Clearly, the ties with AUSCP are much tighter than Unbound is comfortable admitting. Why else would Unbound remove the line about its presenter “Rev. Bob Bonnot” being involved with the AUSCP after our article exposed Unbound’s ad in the AUSCP’s program book?
But another question regarding Unbound’s use of these “preachers” has to do with financial compensation for their presentations. A ministry run by a Fr. John Graden, one of Unbound’s “presenters,” contains a page for scheduling Unbound parish missions. These missions cost the parish, $1,400 for one priest and $2,300 for two priests. What is unclear is to whom the money is paid and subsequently, how the money is used. Is this another way for providing funds to priests connected to the AUSCP? Funds that will eventually find their way into AUSCP coffers?
Being connected with the AUSCP is not the only issue we discovered concerning Unbound. In addition to having no less than eight priests associated with the AUSCP, being a “major sponsor of the AUSCP Assemblies,” and having a Church Relations Director who is very connected with the AUSCP, Unbound has several personnel members, including leadership, who support homosexuality and abortion.
Pritha Hariharan – Unbound’s director for International Programs. On Facebook, Hariharan placed an LGBT rainbow overlay on her profile image. That image with the overlay was “liked” by fellow employees of Unbound, Lead Outreach Coordinator Clair Paul, Sponsorship Services Director Ramiro Zelada, and Project Manager Michelle Dawson.
Pritha Hariharan also posted a pro-abortion overlay onto her profile that said, “Pro-Women, Pro-Choice.” Again, giving a thumbs-up to the overlay are Ramiro Zelada and Michelle Dawson. Clair Paul gave it a “heart” react, indicating that she very much liked the overlay message.
Clare Paul – Lead Outreach Coordinator for Unbound. We’ve already seen that Clare Paul “liked” a pro-homosexual post and “loved” a pro-abortion post by a fellow employee at Unbound. In addition to this, Clare “likes” the virulently pro-abortion “Global Women’s Fund,” which states on its website about abortion, “restrictions to abortion rights restrict women’s fundamental self-determination and control over their bodies, lives, destinies.”
Barclay Martin – New Channels Coordinator for Unbound. He posted a “marriage equality” equal sign on his Facebook page, which was “liked” by Unbound’s International Programs Specialist, Sara Asmussen.
Unbound has had a reputation for doing very good works for people living in poverty all over the world for a very long time. It is deeply unfortunate that it has decided to be a financial supporter and close collaborator with the heretical Association of United States Catholic Priests. But given the activities of many of its leadership and employees, it is not all that surprising that the organization is so closely aligned with the AUSCP.
Due to the serious concerns we have regarding Unbound’s ties to the AUSCP and its clearly pro-abortion and pro-homosexual disposition of its leadership and employees, the Lepanto Institute has given Unbound the “NOT Safe” designation on our charities report list.
If you have been a donor to Unbound, we encourage you to write to the organization and explain to them that as long as Unbound employs pro-abortion and pro-homosexual individuals and maintains a financial and working relationship with the heretical AUSCP, you can not support their efforts.
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