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 non-profit, 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 two 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 "[s]everal AUSCP members are weekend preachers for Unbound."