WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ten Catholic bishops teamed up with a pro-Planned Parenthood group to a release a report this week that urges Catholic organizations to fund groups linked to the promotion of abortion and other acts opposed by the Church.

The 28-page report, released Tuesday by the advocacy group Faith in Public Life, targets Catholic critics of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, accusing them of adopting “McCarthy-era tactics” in their quest to rid the USCCB-run organization of problematic partnerships.

The CEO of the group Faith in Public Life is Jennifer Butler a Presbyterian minister who sat on a panel of “pro-choice clergy” at Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual interfaith breakfast in 2008.  Moreover, the website of Faith in Public Life has published numerous blog posts defending Planned Parenthood.

The report was authored by John Gehring, Faith in Public Life’s Catholic Program Director, who once served as the USCCB’s Assistant Director for Media Relations.

The opening pages of the report include a list of endorsing groups and individuals, including nine retired U.S. bishops and one sitting bishop (Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenberg, South Africa). The retired bishops listed are Archbishop Fiorenza, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Bishop John S. Cummins of Oakland, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, Bishop Peter Rosazza, Bishop Sylvester Ryan of Monterey, Bishop Joseph Sullivan, and Bishop John Leibrecht of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Archbishop Fiorenza and Bishop Skylstad are both former presidents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Many of the bishops backing the report are known for taking public positions against Catholic teaching.

  • Bishop Dowling is famous for his opposition to Church teaching on contraception and in 2010 he was rebuked by the Southern African Bishops' Conference after giving a talk that criticized the Vatican and Catholic teaching against the ordination of women.
  • Bishop Gumbleton, a well-known dissident in the U.S. Church, made headlines in April when he opposed his own bishop, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, after Vigneron defended the Church's opposition to same-sex "marriage" and urged Catholics who support the illicit unions to not approach for Communion.
  • Bishop Sullivan has been a speaker for the pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry, and has called for active homosexuals to be brought in to "full participation in the life of the church."

In the report, Faith in Public Life charges that CCHD’s critics are working to "undermine the U.S. Catholic bishops’ most successful anti-poverty initiative."

"Using guilt by association and other tactics from the McCarthy-era playbook, these activists are part of an increasingly aggressive movement of Catholic culture warriors who view themselves as fighting for a smaller, 'purer' church,” it reads.

The report mentions the Reform CCHD Now coalition by name, and focuses particularly on American Life League, which has been one of the leading critics. LifeSiteNews is also mentioned because of its recent reports highlighting Catholic Relief Services' links to pro-abortion groups.

It criticizes recent decisions by CCHD to defund grantees like the Land Stewardship Project and Compañeros, which were found to be taking active leadership roles in coalitions that endorse same-sex “marriage.”

These defunding decisions have come after detailed reports from the Reform CCHD Now coalition, but in these cases the coalition has merely called on CCHD to live up to its own guidelines. According to those guidelines, CCHD funds “cannot go to groups that knowingly participate in coalitions that have as part of their organizational purpose or coalition agenda, positions or actions that contradict fundamental Catholic moral and social teaching.”

The report also includes interviews with bishops and other faith leaders who oppose CCHD’s ongoing reform and believe the anti-poverty arm should work with groups that oppose fundamental Catholic moral teachings in the interest of securing relief for the poor.

“At a time when poverty is growing and people are hurting we should not withdraw from our commitment to helping the poor,” urges Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, former head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “Catholic identity is far broader than opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Catholic identity is a commitment to living the Gospel as Jesus proclaimed it, and this must include a commitment to those in poverty.”

The report won accolades on Thursday from the Human Rights Campaign, one of America’s leading homosexual advocacy groups, which used the occasion to urge Catholic leaders to fund “marriage equality” groups.

“It is utterly wrong 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,” said Sharon Groves, HRC’s Religion and Faith Director. “Before all else Jesus’ ministry was with the poor and for the poor.  No matter what these Catholic leaders feel about marriage equality it is nothing short of wrong to turn poor people into pawns for their political ends.” 

“We thank Faith in Public Life for bringing this scandal to the attention of the wider public.”

Michael Hichborn, a researcher at American Life League and the lead spokesman for the Reform CCHD Now coalition, emphasized that they fully support authentic poverty relief efforts, but said Faith in Public Life is clearly not aiming to help the poor.

"Given that Faith in Public Life is headed by someone strongly aligned with Planned Parenthood, and that the ‘report’ they wrote is getting support from the Human Rights Campaign, it's clear that the reason for this report has nothing to do with the poor and everything to do with helping the gay and pro-abortion lobby,” he said.

"The whole report is nothing more than an apologetics piece attempting to make the case that in order to help the poor, Catholic money has to go to organizations working hand-in-glove with coalitions promoting abortion and homosexuality,” he added.

"Even though a number of bishops have endorsed this report, I am reminded of the warning of Our Lady of Akita that we will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops, and the Church will be full of those who accept compromises,” Hichborn continued. “Ultimately what these bishops are saying is that those bishops who supported the review and renewal guideline on coalitions, and those others who’ve decided not to do the CCHD collection are hurting the poor because they oppose giving money to organizations who become members of coalitions that are the ideological enemies of Christ."

Hichborn also questioned why Faith in Public Life and its backers were targeting American Life League when the pro-life group has merely upheld CCHD’s own standards. He highlighted a quote last year by CCHD’s own executive director, Ralph McCloud: "To work with organizations who are working against some of the things that we're teaching, the tradition that we have -- we just have no tolerance for that," said McCloud.

“This is the executive director of the CCHD speaking, not American Life League,” said Hichborn. “If FIPL and all of its endorsers have a problem with the CCHD's standards, then I don't know why they are pointing a finger at American life League.  All we're doing is applying the Church's own standards in our investigations."