Washington The embattled leader of President Bush's "faith-based initiative" is resigning after seven controversial months, leaving at a crucial time for Bush's effort to open government programs to religious groups.
A lifelong Democrat, John DiIulio had been a force for the compromise that will be needed to turn the legislation into law.
Last month the House approved a bill opening 10 programs to churches, synagogues and other religious groups. But the measure attracted little Democratic support, and no legislation has been introduced in the Senate, where Democrats are in control.
DiIulio, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said he was leaving for health and personal reasons, and he said he had intended to assess his position after six months.
But he was also frustrated at times by the politics within the White House and worn down by the battering from liberals and conservatives.
"At one level it's all the things the American people find distasteful. Things that should be bipartisan can turn partisan. Things that should bring people together divide them," he said. "The good news is that leadership ultimately trumps that."
Overweight and overworked, the 43-year-old said he's also exhausted from his commute several times a week from Philadelphia, where he is on leave from the University of Pennsylvania and where his wife and three children live.