CHICAGO, Illinois, August 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An influential Chicago priest is at the helm of a violence prevention group that included Planned Parenthood in an after-school alliance and approved a grant for the abortion giant in 2005.
Fr. Larry Dowling, the priest at Chicago’s St. Agatha’s Parish, is the chairman of the board for the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention. On a recent version of its website, the group listed leading pro-abortion and pro-homosexual organizations as “resources,” and it currently advertises its director for policy’s past lobby work on behalf of “reproductive rights.”
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Fr. Dowling expressed doubts that ICVP had ever associated themselves with Planned Parenthood. He said they do not “actively support” other pro-abortion and pro-homosexual groups.
LifeSiteNews reported last year that Fr. Dowling had led a cadre of priests in opposing major pro-life reforms at Chicago’s branch of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. In a letter, he told Cardinal Francis George that “it has been an insult to many [CCHD grantees] to be asked, ‘Does your organization support abortion or same-sex ‘marriage’?’”
ICVP Director for Policy and Advocacy Wendy Chill is the former executive director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey. Her biography on ICVP’s website notes she has “advocated for the passage and defeat of numerous pieces of legislation in multiple matters including health care and reproductive rights.”
Chill currently serves on the associate board of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, which lobbied for abortion coverage in the federal health care law, and then for the funding of abortion through the Illinois exchange. The coalition also lobbied for the state’s Reproductive Health and Access Act, which would dramatically expand abortion in Illinois by sweeping away common-sense restrictions on abortion, such as the state’s Parental Notification Act.
Fr. Dowling said Chill’s previous employment at Planned Parenthood does not bear on her work with ICVP.
“I don’t think you necessarily carry an agenda with you when you come in to do a different job, an after-school advocacy job,” he said. “The work of the organization again is about violence prevention. It has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood or any of that stuff.”
However, a 2005 document from ICVP lists Planned Parenthood Heart of Illinois as a member of their after-school alliance, which is a coalition of organizations promoting extra-curricular programming for youth.
The organization also runs a youth advisory board that is responsible for awarding the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s Youth-Led Mini Grants. In 2005, they awarded this grant to Planned Parenthood of East Central Illinois.
The organization’s website included links to the National Organization for Women, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). They also linked to the websites of several groups fighting sexual violence that promote abortion and the abortifacient morning-after pill.
Asked if he is convinced his organization is upholding the right to life, Fr. Dowling said, “I absolutely think it’s trying to support, clearly, the dignity and respect of every human being, absolutely.”
Asked if this included the unborn, he said, “Including the unborn, but I mean we don’t even get into those issues as an organization. That part we don’t cover. That’s not included in the violence prevention strategies that we work on.”
Fr. Dowling is also the president of ARISE Chicago, which has endorsed an immigration bill, called the Uniting American Families Act, that seeks to grant legal recognition to “permanent partners” of the same sex.
Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago
PO Box 1979
Chicago, IL. 60690-1979