Michael Hichborn, American Life League

Author of Soros-funded CCHD defense stands by report despite bevy of omissions and errors

Michael Hichborn, American Life League
By Michael Hichborn

June 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On June 11, the liberal organization Faith in Public Life published a report attacking the investigative work of the Reform CCHD Now coalition, which has worked for nearly three years now to promote a thoroughgoing top-down reform of the U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after discovering that dozens of its grantees promote activities contrary to Catholic teaching.

Shortly after Faith in Public Life (FIPL) released its report, LifeSiteNews revealed that FIPL’s CEO was on a panel of “pro-choice clergy” at a Planned Parenthood event that focused on how ‘pro-choice’ clergy could “make social change in support of reproductive justice in communities across the country.”  LifeSiteNews also pointed out that FIPL published numerous blog entries defending Planned Parenthood, including this one where FIPL states that it “compiled quotes from faith leaders opposing government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.” It’s a little more than ironic that a pro-abortion, Soros-funded organization is crying foul over our investigative reporting that profiles pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-birth control and Marxist organizations receiving money from the Catholic Church.

Even beyond the irony, however, the FIPL report is full of glaring errors and omissions that must be addressed.  But before publishing this response to FIPL’s report, I thought it would be important to contact John Gehring, the author of FIPL’s report, in order to give him a chance to address the errors I found in his document. So, I called Mr. Gehring and asked him if he would have time to answer some questions, and he asked me to submit them via email.  I did.  In fact, I sent him all of the information I provide below and asked him if he was aware of these facts when he wrote the report.  This is what he said in reply to my questions:

Michael,

Thanks for your questions. Since the report speaks for itself I prefer not getting into a back and forth on these detailed questions. Here is a statement that you can use.

John Gehring

“The goal of this report is to protect and strengthen the vital work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life. “Self-appointed watchdog groups like the American Life League have sought to destroy the reputation of Catholics who serve our Church, demonize social justice leaders and create a climate of fear that hurts effective efforts to empower low-income communities. It is essential to preserve the distinctive Catholic identity of CCHD while also recognizing that if the Church only associates with people who agree with Catholic teaching on every issue, our ability to serve the common good in a diverse society is severely limited. As Pope Francis said in a recent homily, Catholics should be building bridges, not walls. The prominent Catholic leaders who endorsed this report are determined to help strengthen CCHD’s mission at a time when Pope Francis challenges us to confront the moral scandal of poverty and growing inequality.”

I wrote Mr. Gehring back immediately and said, “Just so I don’t misrepresent you, is it safe to say that in light of the facts I sent you, you still stand by your report as it is written?”  Mr. Gehring did not respond. 

What follows is a point by point correction of the errors in FIPL’s report, and in the spirit of intellectual honesty, we call upon FIPL to correct the record.

Land Stewardship Project

The report claims on page 4 that the Land Stewardship Project, a former CCHD grantee, lost its funding because of its membership in two coalitions: Take Action Minnesota and the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits.  FIPL contends that the CCHD denied funding to LSP because the two coalitions of which it is a member “did not endorse the Minnesota bishops’ efforts to fight same-sex marriage.” 

Simply put, this is untrue.  These two coalitions didn’t merely “not endorse” the bishops’ efforts to fight against same-sex “marriage,” but took positions in direct opposition to the Church.  For instance, on March 30, 2006, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits "announced opposition to” the Minnesota State Legislature’s effort to ban same-sex “marriage.” Furthermore, Take Action Minnesota actually hired field canvassers to drum up support for same-sex “marriage.”

The information regarding Take Action Minnesota actually takes on a deeper meaning when page 13 of FIPL’s report attempts to build a story around the Land Stewardship Project’s “Associate Director/Director of Programs/Policy Program Director”, Mark Schultz.  Specifically, the report says:

Mark Schultz grew up a proud Catholic boy on the South Side of Chicago. His faith and family taught him lessons about justice and solidarity with the marginalized that he still carries today as the policy and organizing director of the Land Stewardship Project.  The Minneapolis-based organization, founded in 1982, trains new farmers, challenges large-scale factory farms that have poor records on labor rights, and advocates for more sustainable local agriculture. “My faith is the reason I’m an organizer,” Shultz said.

What the report leaves out is that Mark Schultz is not only a director of LSP; he is also the chairman of the board of Take Action Minnesota, and has been chairman of the board at least since April of 2011, a full month before Take Action Minnesota officially endorsed same-sex “marriage.” Furthermore, in February of 2011, Mark Schultz himself announced that Take Action Minnesota is, among other things, “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight.”

In short, FIPL’s report misrepresented the true nature of the problems with the two coalitions that the Land Stewardship Project was told to leave if it wished to continue receiving Catholic funds.  But more to the point, FIPL completely failed in its attempt to paint a picture that Reform CCHD Now’s investigative report accused LSP of guilt by association by deliberately omitting the fact that Land Stewardship Project’s second in command is also the top dog at Take Action Minnesota.  When all the facts are present, it is clear that the Land Stewardship Project is guilty by participation, not association.

Companeros

The report falsely claims on page 4 that Companeros lost its CCHD funding “because of its association with a statewide immigrant rights coalition that included a single gay and lesbian advocacy group.”  If this were the case, then FIPL’s claims of guilt by association would be correct, but this is not the case. 

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Here are the facts.  Companeros is a member of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), in fact, one of its founding members, and Companeros’ program director, Nicole Mosher, is on CIRC’s board of directors. This means that the actions taken by CIRC directly represent Companeros.  The problem is that CIRC has worked in direct opposition to Catholic moral teaching, which places Companeros in violation of CCHD guidelines.  For instance, CIRC “was proud to actively support the 2011 civil unions bill” for homosexual couples, directly opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, participated in a “gay pride” parade, specifically stated an organizational goal to “build non-traditional Alliances with focus on LGBT, non-Latino immigrant/refugees and Welcoming Colorado supporters,” voiced support for transgenderism, and applauded the recognition of same-sex couples on customs forms.  Incidentally, Companeros itself participated in a CIRC event that had a whole section on the cross-promotion of homosexuality and immigrant issues.

FIPL’s claim that Companeros lost funding due to membership in a coalition that also has a homosexual advocacy group as a member is completely unfounded.  The simple fact is that Companeros is a member of and on the board of an organization that took positions and actions that are in direct opposition to Catholic moral teaching.  This is why Companeros lost its funding.

The Gamaliel Foundation

The FIPL report discusses the Reform CCHD Now coalition’s charge that the Gamaliel Foundation directly lied to the CCHD about its relationship with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.  In its assessment, FIPL accurately illustrates the fact that Gamaliel was a member of FIRM and that FIRM took an official position in support of homosexuality. FIPL then presents Gamaliel’s claim that Gamaliel left FIRM in 2010 because of this official position and ends with the statement that American Life League alleges that Gamaliel lied about this.  What the report fails to mention, however, is why ALL and the Reform CCHD Now coalition charged Gamaliel with lying when it claimed to have left FIRM in 2010.

As is evidenced in the report published by the Reform CCHD Now coalition, Gamaliel housed several documents on its own website, identifying it as a member of FIRM and as being on FIRM’s executive committee for the year 2011, a full year after it allegedly “severed all ties with FIRM.” Furthermore, a set of FIRM’s own meeting minutes from a monthly conference call identifies Ana Garcia Ashley, Gamaliel’s executive director, as a participant on the call and lists Gamaliel as a nominee for FIRM’s executive committee for the year 2012. Gamaliel has never denied this evidence but attempted to hide it all, and refuses to discuss the discrepancy between its claims and the evidence we noted.

Since John Gehring actually cited Reform CCHD Now’s report on Gamaliel in his own report, I asked him specifically why he left out the rest of the information.  As shown above, he declined to comment on the omission.

WISDOM

On page 18 of FIPL’s report, they attempt to make the case that the Reform CCHD Now coalition “branded WISDOM as an anti-Catholic organization” simply because it is a member of a coalition that happened to show up at a rally “along with some pro-choice groups.”

Not only is this not what the Reform CCHD Now report says, but the entire scenario described in FIPL’s report is patently false.

Here are the facts.  As you can read in our report here, the problem starts with the fact that the Gamaliel affiliate group called WISDOM is a member of and on the board of directors of an organization called Citizen Action of Wisconsin.  Our report, on page 8, clearly identifies Citizen Action of Wisconsin as a participant in a rally that was “mad as Hell” because the state legislature had just voted on a bill that “curbed abortion rights and ended comprehensive sex education in schools.” The point of that citation was to illustrate that Citizen Action of Wisconsin was itself participating in pro-abortion and pro-birth control activities, and according to CCHD guidelines, this would mean that WISDOM cannot be a member if it wishes to receive CCHD funding.  However, it is interesting that FIPL failed to mention the more direct bit, where on page 9 of our report we provided a link from Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s own podcast from July 7, 2011 featuring a representative from Planned Parenthood and statements from Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s own executive director championing same-sex marriage.

FIPL claims it was honestly attempting to defend an injustice done through a false accusation. If this was true, it wouldn’t need to seriously contort the claims made in our CCHD grantee reports, nor would it need to leave out the strongest pieces of evidence. FIPL should be happy to know, however, that honesty is not among the things we are accusing it of.

Conclusion

The distortions and untruths in Faith in Public Life’s “report” make it clear that they are not interested in justice, the poor, or honesty in reporting.  The mere fact that the report’s author refuses to address the glaring inaccuracies shows that he is more interested in furthering an agenda than the truth.  But in addition to the irony that an organization so friendly with Planned Parenthood is rushing to the defense of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the homosexuality lobby group Human Rights Campaign endorsed FIPL’s report, just a few days after it was published.  HRC emphatically claimed that it is unjust “that a network of conservative Catholic organizations would choose to withhold funds from local groups working with the poor because they support marriage equality and the LGBT community.”

All of this leads to two conclusions:

  1. The Reform CCHD Now campaign is having a definitive impact on the lobbying efforts of pro-abortion and pro-homosexual organizations.  There would be no reason for the obvious effort of writing this slick 28-page report and obtaining its long list of endorsers, otherwise. 

  2. FIPL and HRC both make the arguments that in order to help the poor, it is essential for CCHD grantees to join coalitions that support abortion and homosexuality, proving what the Reform CCHD Now coalition has been saying all along: CCHD grantees are indeed members of pro-abortion and pro-homosexual coalitions, and such membership is necessary to advance abortion and homosexuality in American society. 

Michael Hichborn is Director of Defend the Faith, a project of American Life League.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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