A Sordid Tale About Catholic Campaign For Human Development

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development has been at the center of more sleazy news reports over the years than anyone could possibly count. I remember when, for example, CCHD was deeply involved in funding the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The now-infamous community organizing group, better known as ACORN, is the one that President Obama seems to have forgotten, even though he is, as Joseph Farah documents, “tied inextricably” to them.   

To its credit, CCHD severed ties with ACORN, but the concern is that it will continue to use the donations of faithful Catholics to advance an agenda that has little to do with what I, for one, consider to be genuine Catholic projects to benefit the less fortunate. 

Mary Ann Kreitzer recently blogged about the questionable CCHD, telling her readers,

While CCHD claims to be aiming at poverty's roots, it misses the mark. One of the greatest causes of poverty is the breakdown of the family. And yet browsing the CCHD grantees list, you would be hard-pressed to find a single "charity" that helps to strengthen the poor family. As for including the poor in the makeup and decision-making of groups, even that is questionable. VOICE in Virginia is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation. It is primarily made up of affluent suburban Christians. In Catholic parishes (and presumably protestant churches as well), pastors strong-arm groups to attend the mass meetings and be the "voice" of the people. Among those out front, however, the identifiable voices are two "progressive" priests. It will be interesting to see if VOICE appears on the 2009 list of CCHD grantees. They are already diverting parish money for their liberal lobbying and will likely get their hand in the national till as well.

In a recently released report on CCHD, which was noted by the ever-vigilant LifeSiteNews.com, we learn that the CCHD is immersed in funding groups that support abortion, contraception, same-sex "marriage" and legalized prostitution. The report, which was published by the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, gives examples, complete with documentation, of the many ways in which CCHD is using its money to undermine the principles of Catholic teaching. 

For example, the Bellarmine report says that the “Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) has received CCHD funding for the last four years as a worker’s rights group. However, this organization publicly supports both abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Our dearly departed friend, Father Richard John Neuhaus, was always so profound and witty in his examination of problems such as this one with CCHD. Last year, he wrote, 

What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.

You might notice that Father does not attribute the first “C” to the CCHD as he was under the false impression that the bishops had taken action and removed the word “Catholic” from the CCHD identity. Sadly, that is not the case.

What IS the case—and painfully obvious to me and many others—is that CCHD is so far gone that there is little hope of ever seeing them adhere to Catholic teaching, let alone provide support to only those organizations that deserve Catholic donations. Why the USCCB has not acknowledged this and dealt with it is a question I cannot answer, but the record speaks for itself.

We cannot, however, let this continue without a groundswell of grassroots response and action. I am therefore deeply grateful to our good pro-life friend, Fabiola Gergerich, a loyal pro-life activist and faithful Catholic for what follows. She e-mailed this note, and I now share it with the nation: 

On November 16-19, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be having its fall assembly in Baltimore. On November 21-22, there is to be a collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

I ask that we be proactive by calling/e-mailing/writing our bishops to insist that they stop this fraud campaign once and for all! I am sure they can find some time in their fall assembly to discuss this great scandal to the Catholic Church. 

Those of you confirmed Catholics: Please remember that when we made our confirmation, we promised to be soldiers for Christ. Guess what? God is calling His army! We lay faithful can NO longer sit by and watch our beautiful Church be overrun with dissenters. Many of you stood up for our country by “protesting” at various tea parties, town halls and the 9/12 march. Now you must stand up for something more important—OUR Catholic Church. The time to act is now—not next week—but now!

"And then remember that you received the seal of the Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, and the spirit of holy fear, and preserve what you have received. God the Father has sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and gave the earnest of the Spirit in your heart." —St. Ambrose, De Mysteriis 7, 42.

"With gifts and qualities such as these, we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties." —Pope John Paul II, Address to the young people of Scotland, May 31, 1982.

In closing, I have to admit that the faithful Catholic, Ryan Ellis, is spot-on in his analysis of the CCHD debacle. The closing paragraphs of his “ACORN and the Catholic Church: A Legacy of Big Hearts and Small Brains” challenge even the most timid in our midst to take action now:

Today, the CCHD continues to state that ACORN receives no money, and that better safeguards are in place. However, one must ask the following questions:
1.    Why did anyone think it was a good idea to fund ACORN in the first place?
2.    Did those decision makers get fired, or are they still appropriating our money?
3.    Why would anyone be stupid enough to give to this collection ever again?
4.    Why haven’t the bishops disbanded CCHD, or at least made the collection optional for parishes?

Speaking for myself, I never gave to this (or any other) second collection, because I don’t trust that my money won’t be stolen from the big-hearted goops that work in Catholic charitable endeavors. There are lots of ACORNs out there, prowling about seeking the ruin of souls (at least the souls of the charity check-writers). Put simply, Catholic charitable endeavors cannot be trusted with my money. Neither can chanceries, since bishops obviously let their local CCHDs get out of hand.

Here is what I did, and what I would recommend to anyone. At my parish, 7 percent of the general collection every week is kicked upstairs to the diocese as a kind of tax or tribute. Because dollars are fungible, I don’t want that to happen with my money.  So, I give only to capital campaign collections at my parish, which all stays there. My pastor is happy to receive my contribution any way in which I feel comfortable, and I’ve fulfilled my canon law obligation to support my parish financially (221.1).

I suggest anyone concerned about the next dumb Catholic/smart ACORN strategy do the same. Hopefully, the Catholic Church hierarchy has learned, once again, that prudence is a cardinal virtue that informs the theological virtue of charity.

It is high time that we as Catholics, who defend Christ, defend life and defend the magisterium of the Catholic Church, really did put our money where our mouth is … or in this case, put our money away until we find a charity worthy of our support.