Friday February 26, 2010

Bishop: CCHD-Backed Network Not Worthy of Catholic Involvement

By Patrick B. Craine

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin, February 26, 2010 ( – Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay has issued a letter to two interfaith groups affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation, warning them that if they do not sever their relationship with Gamaliel they will lose the diocese’s support.

The bishop’s letter is particularly significant in light of the continuing controversy over the U.S. Bishops’ domestic social justice arm, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has a history of funding Gamaliel affiliates.

The bishop emphasized that he values the work of these organizations, called JOSHUA and ESTHER, but made it clear that their affiliation with Gamaliel, a national Chicago-based network of community organizing groups, through the state umbrella group, WISDOM, was problematic because Gamaliel espouses principles contrary to Catholic teaching.

“After prayer, study, and reflection, it is clear to me that principles of the Gamaliel Foundation are inconsistent with the tenets of our Catholic Social Teaching,” the bishop wrote them on Saturday. “It is not fitting for a Catholic entity to enter into a formal association with another organization when there is such a conflict of principles.”

“The end does not justify the means,” vicar general and chancellor Fr. John Doerfler told The Post-Crescent on Wednesday, although he would not elaborate on the diocese’s problems with Gamaliel.

In a November statement, the diocese explained that they would be reviewing Gamaliel and WISDOM, due to JOSHUA and ESTHER’s association with them. They noted at the time that the groups were affiliated with Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which began advocating abortion coverage at the beginning of November. But the diocese also stated that the groups had withdrawn from HCAN, and LifeSiteNews has verified that they are still not listed as coalition members.

Fr. Doerfler told the Post-Crescent, however, that the previous connection with HCAN is not the diocese’s concern. “JOSHUA and ESTHER have given that explanation and have severed that affiliation,” he said.

According to Bishop Ricken, “it is crucial that we continue to collaborate with our non-Catholic brothers and sisters to pursue matters of social justice that we share in common.” He applauded JOSHUA and ESTHER for their work in serving the homeless and promoting immigration reform. “This good work must continue,” he said.

He said that the diocese will begin by approaching JOSHUA and ESTHER to “ask that their affiliation be severed with WISDOM, and through WISDOM with the Gamaliel Foundation.” “Such a resolution would allow our continued involvement with JOSHUA and ESTHER in the work of justice that we share in common without the conflict of principles,” he continued.

If the groups will not sever their relationships with Gamaliel, he says the diocese will seek “alternative avenues, apart from JOSHUA and ESTHER, to collaborate with our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in the work of justice that we share in common.”

The bishop’s judgment that Gamaliel affiliates are unworthy of Catholic funding is significant in light of the growing controversy surrounding the CCHD, which has come under fire in the last several months following numerous reports that documented the abortion and homosexualist advocacy of CCHD grantees.

Leading up to the November national CCHD collection, when Catholics were being urged to withhold funds, Gamaliel issued a letter of support, stating: “Many Gamaliel Foundation affiliates rely on funding from CCHD to serve their communities. Over the years this funding has been instrumental in helping our affiliates recruit and train organizers, serve significant populations of immigrants and help low-income families achieve home ownership.”

In 2009, the national CCHD awarded grants to 13 Gamaliel affiliates, allocating them a total of $375,000.

“Bishop Ricken rightly recognizes the incompatibility between the Church’s and Gamaliel’s vision of social justice,” stated Rob Gasper, of the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, who has been a lead researcher with the Reform CCHD Now coalition. “ESTHER and JOSHUA do outstanding work for the homeless, so our hope is that they heed Bishop Ricken’s advice so that they can continue their work with the Green Bay diocese.”

“The CCHD would do well to also re-evaluate their relationship with the Gamaliel network,” he added. “Bishop Ricken has demonstrated a balanced approach to this issue and our hope is that the CCHD will follow suit.”

See Bishop Ricken’s letter here.

See related coverage:

Pro-Life Coalition Questions 2nd CCHD Official’s Ties with Pro-Abort Group

Bishop Vasa Cautiously Concerned Over USCCB Membership in Pro-Abortion Coalition

CCHD Scandal Picks Up Steam as Bishops React