By Patrick B. Craine
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 26, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Fourteen months after the scandal broke at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) over their funding of groups that promote abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and contraception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a detailed review of their domestic anti-poverty organization that is intended to spark renewal.
Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the CCHD, says the report neither accepts “business as usual” nor abandons CCHD’s focus on serving the poor.
The 15-page review document, released Tuesday, “reaffirms CCHD’s Catholic foundations and priority for the poor,” said the bishop. “It also responds to concerns about CCHD funding policies and makes 10 commitments to strengthen CCHD as a faithful and effective expression of Catholic teaching and the Gospel mandate to defend the lives and dignity of those who are poor in our nation.”
One of the key commitments is to establish a review board that will receive complaints on the activities of grantees and decide whether certain grants ought to be withdrawn. They have also committed to developing specific guidelines regarding the funding of groups that are part of coalitions which act in conflict with fundamental Catholic moral and social teaching.
They plan, further, to strengthen CCHD’s Catholic identity by giving greater priority to grants for organizations that have strong involvement by Catholic parishes and institutions. Additionally, the grant applications will be improved to better explain CCHD’s commitment to Catholic social and moral teaching.
The organization has been embroiled in controversy over its funding practices since last fall, when the Texas-based Bellarmine Veritas Ministries (BVM) began releasing reports with evidence that numerous CCHD grantees are involved in promoting abortion, same-sex “marriage” and contraception, among other things.
Though CCHD reacted by defunding several of the groups, many concerned Catholics were dissatisfied with the response. A number of pro-life groups, including BVM, American Life League, and Human Life International, formed a coalition called Reform CCHD Now (RCN) to call for a boycott of last year’s November national collection. RCN argued that supporting CCHD while it continues to fund groups advocating practices contrary to the Catholic faith would constitute complicity in those practices.
Following RCN’s reports on CCHD’s funding practices, ten bishops opted not to take up the collection and several others made public calls for CCHD’s reform.
RCN’s Rob Gasper, BVM’s founder, called CCHD’s review document “a positive step forward.” “If vigorously implemented, we hope to see an overall improvement in their funding practices,” he explained. “It remains to be seen whether or not the CCHD will be able to effectively implement these reforms. We will have a much better idea once the 2010 grants list is released.”
Gasper noted, however, that it is unlikely CCHD will release the 2010 grantee list before the national collection on November 21.
“In effect, Catholics are being asked to make contributions without knowing exactly who will be receiving those funds,” he said. “Perhaps the CCHD might consider delaying the collection until full transparency is achieved for this year.”
Gasper also criticized the CCHD’s oft-repeated claim that only five out of 270 grantees were defunded last year, noting that the CCHD itself lists six (Rebecca Project for Human Rights, Chinese Progressive Association, Young Workers United, LA CAN, Washington Community Action Network, and Preble Street).
“The Reform CCHD Now Coalition released a detailed report which lists 67 grantees which were either directly promoting practices contrary to Church teaching, or involved with coalitions or forums which have the promotion of abortion, contraceptives or homosexual ‘marriage’ as a primary objective,” said Gasper.
“We hope the CCHD will publicly address these findings instead of falling back on the claim that only 5 grantees have been defunded."
The review document was approved by the USCCB’s Administrative Committee in September, and is to be discussed at their November 15-18 general assembly.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Coalition of Catholic Groups Calls for Massive Reform of U.S. Bishops' Social Justice Arm
US Bishops Prepare to Consider CCHD's Future
Bishop Bruskewitz on CCHD: Bishop Morin Was a "Bit Too Dismissive" of Concerns
USCCB's Social Justice Arm Caught Funding Pro-Abortion/Prostitution Groups: Takes "Decisive" Action in Response