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Catholics Yank Workers Center Funding


Published May 7, 2009 at 9:14 a.m.

Just days after the Vermont Workers Center celebrated a very successful turnout of more than 1000 people at its Health Care as a Human Right campaign rally in Montpelier (see this week's "Fair Game"), it got some very bad news.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has yanked $30,000 from the center's budget — most of it directed toward VWC's health-care campaign. Why?

"We were told by the Vermont diocese the funding would be pulled becausewe would not agree to put limits on a woman’s right to choose as a partof our Health Care is a Human Right campaign," the center wrote in an email Wednesday night to supporters.

Aside from abortion, the diocese is also concerned that physician-assisted suicide will also be advanced as a result of health-care reform in Vermont, James Haslam, the center's director and lead organizer, told Blurt. Haslam and several center members met with diocese officials this week to plea their case. No dice.

The $30,000 comes from a national Catholic foundation, but it has to be OK'd by the local diocese. In past years, the Vermont diocese has always given the green light, added Haslam.

"We hope this foundation will fund us again in the future, but for now, this is not a minor crisis to our budget.  This funding represents a loss of nearly a quarter of our budget at a time when we need to expand our capacity after the huge success of our May 1st Health Care is a Human Right rally.  Now we will have to fill the gap, and then some," he told supporters.

The center hopes to find 200 people to raise $250. To help out, send a check to the Vermont Workers Center, 294 N. Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401 or donate online.