By Michael Hichborn
Every year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development sponsors a nationwide appeal for the stated purpose of helping the impoverished. Publicity for the appeal is reminiscent of the 1980s Sally Struthers television spots showing poor children in far-off lands, in which she made pleas along the lines of “For the price of a cup of coffee a day, you can feed this little one.” But the fact is that the CCHD does not give one dime to organizations involved in direct service to the poor, such as soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Instead, it grants money to radical community organizers more interested in political lobbying, voter registration drives and ballot initiatives than buying groceries for starving families.
To hear the speech delivered by Bishop Roger Morin, the CCHD’s chairman, at the semi-annual USCCB meeting this week, one would think that such a claim is completely out of line and that any criticism of the CCHD or call to boycott its collection will somehow deny much needed blankets to homeless people who might freeze to death this winter. But the CCHD’s own funding criteria proves the point.
With regard to community organizing grants, the CCHD stipulates, “Organizations with primary focus on direct service (e.g., daycare centers, recreation programs, community centers, scholarships, subsidies, counseling programs, referral services, cultural enrichment programs, direct clinical services, emergency shelters and other services, refugee resettlement programs, etc.)” are not eligible for funding.
With regard to economic development grants, the CCHD stipulates, “[Economic Development Institutions] whose primary focus is direct service (e.g. job training, business consulting, financial literacy, savings programs, or homeownership education programs…)” are not eligible for funding.
But aside from organizations the CCHD refuses to fund, its most egregious offense is its justification for funding organizations that directly violate Catholic moral and social teaching.
Last weekend, the CCHD issued a fact sheet titled “For the Record – The Truth about CCHD Funding.” This document presents “allegations” followed by the CCHD’s “facts.” Not only do these “facts” not address the fundamental problem we have been exposing, but in some cases, they directly conflict with truth. What follows is a point-by-point analysis of the CCHD’s fact sheet.
1. "ALLEGATION: CCHD persistently funds organizations closely associated with the
Rather than address the allegation that CCHD grantees are closely associated with pro-abortion organizations, the CCHD merely points to its grant writing process, guidelines and funding criteria. It is well and good that it affirms the sanctity of human life and claims that “CCHD funds will not be used to support any application which is sponsored or promoted by an organization whose primary or substantial thrust in contrary to Catholic teaching,” but the fact remains that Catholic funds have been used and are still used to support such organizations.
Here is a perfect example of the CCHD ignoring its own policies. Under this allegation, it says,
CCHD funds will not be used to support any application which is sponsored or promoted by an organization whose primary or substantial thrust is contrary to Catholic teaching, even if the application itself is in accord with Catholic teaching. (emphasis added)
If that was the case, then not only should the organizations we have profiled on www.all.org/cchd be immediately defunded, but so should every organization that has ever received funding from pro-abortion organizations, been promoted by Planned Parenthood or been involved with Marxist socialism (as many grantees are).
Moving on to the second allegation:
2. “ALLEGATION: CCHD project funds are ‘fungible’: They free up monies for
organizations to spend on other activities at variance with Catholic teaching.”
The CCHD’s response to this allegation is inadequate and inaccurate. Rather than addressing the problems involved in donating money to an organization engaged in evil as well as good projects, the response focuses on funding procedures, guidelines and monitoring. But this doesn’t answer the concern about fungibility. Every organization has a general fund, and some of the money from the general fund goes toward the organization’s projects. If one project is well funded, then money in the general fund is freed up for other projects. This fact has nothing to do with whether or not the financing of a particular project is monitored.
Suppose Planned Parenthood launched a project to distribute free pregnancy tests to women. Would the CCHD consider this project worthy of funding? According to the response the CCHD gives to this allegation, it appears that this might be acceptable, even though its response to the preceding allegation indicates otherwise.
The bottom line is this: There are organizations that are worthy and those that are unworthy of financial support from faithful Catholics. If an evil organization is running a good project, a faithful Catholic, in good conscience, cannot donate to that project for two reasons: 1) It lends credibility to the evil organization as a whole, while causing scandal to the laity; and 2) such a donation frees up the organization’s general fund for other projects, including the organization’s evil projects.
3. “ALLEGATION: The Catholic Campaign for Human Development does not fund direct service to the poor, and is therefore not worthy of designation as a Catholic charity.”
The CCHD response to this doesn’t even address the allegation itself; it simply affirms the charge, and though no organization’s names are mentioned, it justifies granting money to community organizing groups such as ACORN, which the CCHD defunded in 2008 due to “questions that arose about financial management, fiscal transparency and organizational accountability,” not because it was engaging in immoral activities.
With regard to these first three allegations, we did a little digging and discovered that the CCHD addressed the exact same allegations 12 years ago, using similar fact sheets. In the CCHD’s 1998 fact sheets, following these three general allegations are allegations concerning specific CCHD-funded groups whose activities were in direct conflict with Church teaching. Similarly, after it addresses the first three general allegations, the CCHD’s 2009 fact sheet addresses allegations concerning specific organizations it has recently funded.
These striking similarities between the CCHD’s 1998 and 2009 fact sheets are very telling, because they reveal that these problems have persisted for at least 12 years, were explained away in the exact same manner in 1998 as they are being explained away now and that the granting process in 2009 is just as flawed (or complicit) now as in 1998.
But in the CCHD’s 2009 fact sheet, perhaps the most outrageous statement is made in response to the following allegation:
ALLEGATION: The Catholic Campaign for Human Development funded LA CAN and the San Francisco Organizing Project, which promoted activity contrary to Church teaching.
FACT: The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reviewed the activity of LA CAN and determined the organization does not engage in any activity contrary to Church teaching, and has recommended continued funding for the organization. The Archdiocese of San Francisco strongly supports the work of the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) to expand access to health care to children. Both Archbishop Levada and Archbishop Niederauer have spoken at SFOP events; SFOP has met regularly with Archdiocesan staff to coordinate work on health care access and other issues that affect the poor and immigrant families.
This is an absolute indictment of the Los Angeles and San Francisco archdioceses for their complicity in supporting immoral organizations. What the LA archdiocese is telling us is that promoting homosexual “marriage,” contraception and family planning are activities not contrary to Church teaching! Click here for the proof.
And there is even less excuse for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, including Archbishops Levada and Niederauer. Given that they cleared SFOP for funding after a reinvestigation and, in fact, have admitted that they strongly support SFOP, have met with SFOP regularly and have spoken at its events, then obviously the archdiocese has found no fault with the fact that SFOP won a $200,000 grant for Mission Neighborhood Health Center, which offers free family planning (read contraception) counseling and emergency contraception for teens.
Of course, as is the CCHD’s general modus operandi, none of the rest of the “For the Record” document addresses the multitude of other problematic organizations receiving Catholic funds. So when Bishop Morin told his brother bishops at the USCCB’s semi-annual meeting this week, “We do not ever grant funds to any group that is specifically involved in any activity contrary to Church teaching,” he was making an indefensible false statement. Apparently, he believes (as the LA archdiocese seems to believe) that LA CAN’s promotion of homosexual marriage, the Chicago Workers Collaborative’s involvement in international Marxism, Voces de la Frontera’s promotion of GayNeighbor.org, Massachusetts Community Labor United’s membership in a coalition to expand access to condoms and the Southwest Organizing Project’s promotion of birth control through “comprehensive” sex education are all in line with Catholic moral teaching, or he is completely unaware of these organizations' activities, or he is lying. There is no other possibility.
Whatever the case, there is no way a faithful Catholic can, in good conscience, give a single penny to the CCHD collection this Sunday, November 22. Be sure to download American Life League’s “No thank you!” cards to drop in the collection basket and tell the CCHD that you are instead donating to an authentically Catholic organization. For more information, visit www.all.org/cchd.
Michael Hichborn is American Life League's lead researcher on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and host of the American Life League Report.