Principles over profit: The YMCA takes a stand

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The University YMCA has been punished for standing by its principles. 

Last week,the YMCA lost a $60,000 grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This grant accounts for almost 10 percent of the YMCA’s annual operating budget. 

The conference pulled its funding after the YMCA refused to cut ties with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which expressed its support for same-sex marriage in May. The YMCA, however, a non-partisan organization, takes no stance on same-sex marriage.

The ultimatum was essentially to cut ties with the coalition and receive the $60,000 grant from the conference, or remain a partner to the coalition (which assists the YMCA in immigrant outreach, such as implementing Spanish helplines and advocating for immigration reform) and face a $60,000 budget deficit. 

We’re happy to see that it wasn’t money, but morals that influenced the YMCA to do the right thing.

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Someone should ask the conference, do connections to a group advocating for marriage equality outweigh funding an organization that primarily works to spread Christian principles by developing healthy “bodies, minds and spirits?”

It is unfair that the YMCA is being targeted just because it has ties to another group that has a certain belief, one the YMCA doesn’t even take a stance on itself. The University YMCA, however, has been a long-standing proponent for social justice on this campus and around the world. 

The YMCA is also a huge asset and contributor to our campus. 

Programs, opportunities and events that the YMCA makes possible or contributes to in some way include Dump and Run, the Green Initiative, Vis-A-Vis, Alternative Spring Break, the Green Observer and Engineers Without Borders, just to name a few. 

The YMCA also sponsors many charitable events around campus, such as blood drives, and provides all kinds of volunteer opportunities to students.

It would be one matter for the conference to target the YMCA because it took a direct stance on an issue like same-sex marriage, but, unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. Even if it was the case, the YMCA shouldn’t be punished for the views of someone or something else. 

Considering how much this specific YMCA benefits our campus community, it’s a shame that all the students and community members that benefit from the organization are also being punished.

In addition, the YMCA will likely have to cut some community outreach because of the grant being pulled, inhibiting the YMCA from positively impacting as many people as it has before. The Catholic Church continues to push for service, yet doesn’t allow the YMCA to live up to its full potential as a community service and asset. 

Considering Pope Francis’s emphasis that the Church’s long-standing preoccupation with “issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods” is no longer a tenable position, it’s time the rest of the Church follow suit.

Rather than punishing the YMCA because of whom it chooses to affiliate with, this Catholic organization should be working toward the more welcoming atmosphere envisioned by Pope Francis and the YMCA.