By Patrick B. Craine
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The national office of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the USCCB's domestic anti-poverty arm, has responded to the movement calling for their reform in a new document posted to their website on Friday. At the same time, new evidence implicating several more CCHD grantees in activities contrary to Catholic teaching has been reported by the reform movement.
The CCHD document, entitled "For the Record - The Truth about CCHD Funding," seeks to convince Catholics of the organization's commitment to Catholic moral teaching and to assuage any misgivings raised by the recent revelation regarding a number of their grantees. In the first section of "For the Record," the CCHD assures supporters that, "All grant applicants are carefully screened and funds are provided only to projects with objectives and actions that are fully in accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church."
However, Michael Hichborn, a researcher with American Life League (ALL) and spokesman for the Reform CCHD Now (RCM) movement, told LSN that despite the CCHD's insistence on their fidelity, "they never address the fact that yes, they are giving funds to organizations closely associated with the pro-abortion movement. They never once deny that. They just point to their criteria and say 'See, we have a strict criteria. We don't give to organizations that do that.' But you do."
The Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) agreed with Hichborn's analysis, charging that the CCHD has simply exonerated several implicated grantees, but without addressing the evidence against them.
CCHD goes on to again exonerate the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), which was one of the two groups defended after BVM's first report. They state, simply, that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles "determined the organization does not engage in any activity contrary to Church teaching, and has recommended continued funding for the organization." BVM has rebutted however, that the CCHD does not address the evidence they presented from LACAN's own newsletters. "We still await explanation of how promotion of homosexual marriage and contraceptive services meets the CCHD's guidelines," BVM states.
CCHD also exonerates the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP), which strongly supports health clinics that offer "family planning" and emergency contraception. They defend their grant by indicating that the Archdiocese of San Francisco "strongly supports the work of [this group] to expand access to health care to children." But, as BVM notes again, "this does not address the information we discovered concerning the SFOP. We would like to see a specific response to the charges we made in our report concerning SFOP."
Regarding the Women's Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), which was the other group originally exonerated following BVM's first report, they now state that they "continue to gather the facts," and that the grant has "been placed on hold." They have made the same determination regarding Preble Street, a group offering homeless shelters and soup kitchens that makes "family planning" services available at one of their day shelters.
CCHD's shift in approach to WCRP follows BVM's recently-revealed evidence that this group received a grant from Women's Way, a feminist organization whose funding policies restrict grants to pro-abortion groups. "We hope this third screening of WCRP will be more successful, and look forward to learning the results of the investigation," states BVM.
BVM had revealed in one report that several CCHD grantees were members of a coalition called Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV), which formulated ballot initiatives in favor of abortion and same-sex "marriage" through consultation with their members.
CCHD says, however, that each group "confirmed to CCHD they were never consulted about MIV taking positions on ballot initiatives contrary to Catholic social teaching."
BVM responds by pointing to statements previously documented from Nancy Berlin, Executive Committee Chair of MIV, "which stated that the voter's guide was produced in consultation with MIV's coalition partners." BVM also points out that several of the grantees are, in fact, even more closely related to MIV through a program that gives a "higher level of support to approximately thirty grassroots groups."
"Due to their higher level of involvement, we find it difficult to believe that these grantees were in the dark about the MIV ballot initiatives," the BVM report reads, "and simply taking these grantees' word that they were not consulted about the MIV platform does not constitute a proper investigation."
Stephanie Block, who began researching the CCHD for the Wanderer Forum Foundation in 1993, said that key sections of the 2009 document are nearly identical with an earlier version from 1997. These include the section dealing with their support for pro-abortion grantees and a section responding to allegations that their grants are fungible.
"They have never dealt with the real criticism," she said. "They are putting up a straw man to knock down. They did that before and they are doing that again. They aren't really addressing the criticism, because they can't. It isn't entirely recycled, but you still have the same false response in that you're not dealing directly with the criticism."
According to Hichborn, this "recycled" response, "just shows that over twelve years, nothing's changed. They're fighting off the same allegations and they keep telling us that 'Oh no, we're fixing the problem. We're making sure that nothing goes to anything else.' And the same problem still exists."
"It's funny that they keep claiming that they don't do any of this stuff and they keep getting caught doing it, and they keep using the exact same language to defend themselves for several decades," commented Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International (HLI) and another RCN spokesman. "It's obvious that their leadership's incapable of responding genuinely."
Yesterday, American Life League, an RCN member, announced that they had discovered six more CCHD grantees engaged in activities contrary to Catholic teaching. In total these groups are allocated $220,000 for the year.
"Given how easily we discovered CCHD funding going to anti-Catholic causes, the only two possibilities are that the CCHD is incompetent or complicit," stated Hichborn in a press release. "We're finding more and more evidence every day with far less information than the CCHD receives through its granting process."
"We are calling on Catholics everywhere to boycott the CCHD donation this Sunday by dropping our 'No, Thank You" statement in the collection basket,' said Hichborn.
Full listing of the evidence compiled thus far click here.
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
3211 Fourth St. NE
Washington DC 20017
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Reform CCHD Reps Reveal on EWTN Shocking Evidence Against USCCB Anti-Poverty Arm