By Peter J. Smith
BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A US Catholic bishop who has oversight of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), on Tuesday blasted what he said were “outrageous” allegations that the bishops' charitable-arm funds pro-abortion and anti-family organizations. He charged that some such claims were motivated by “ideological or political agendas.” Nevertheless, Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi admitted that the CCHD needs reform and that developments are underway for the charity's overall renewal.
Bishop Morin gave his report on CCHD to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Fall 2009 General Assembly in Baltimore.
“The bishops of the committee, as those responsible for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, continue to pledge ongoing support of efforts to ensure that all CCHD funds are used faithfully, effectively and in accord with Catholic social and moral teaching,” said Morin.
CCHD is the subject of an independent and ongoing investigation by several Catholic groups that have exposed it for having contracted projects with some groups that are involved with or who have signed onto efforts, activities, or mission statements that conflict with the Catholic Church's defense of the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. CCHD has already defunded two of those groups, but further investigations are continuing to reveal numerous other problematic groups.
A Reform CCHD Now (RCN) coalition has formed that includes Human Life International, Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, Catholic Radio International, Americans Life League, and fifteen other groups. It has demanded concrete reforms of CCHD's vetting process for groups seeking funds before Catholics are called upon to donate on November 22.
Regarding the criticism of CCHD, Bishop Morin told his fellow bishops that the charitable arm had experienced both fair and foul allegations about CCHD funding.
“Some [critics of CCHD] are motivated by a concern for the poor and respect for the Church, and some are seeking answers to legitimate questions about what and how and why CCHD does what it does, and how it can be made better,” Morin said.
However, Morin proceeded to lash out at certain unnamed critics who he said harbor ulterior motives against the bishops and the Church.
“There are a few who have their own ideological or political agendas, they repeat or spread outrageous claims that the bishops are funding groups that are pro-abortion, groups that are not in support of the family, or other untruths,” Morin insisted. “For these groups, this seems to be just another way to attack the Church and its shepherds.”
Morin said that these groups, “constantly insist that the bishops are not as faithful to their responsibility to their caring for the life of the unborn.”
Bishop Morin reiterated that CCHD is “absolutely pro-life from conception to natural death,” and that social justice ministry to the poor was a form of pro-life advocacy.
He also denied the allegation that CCHD gives to any group “that is specifically involved in any activity contrary to church teaching,” and emphasized that CCHD has a “zero tolerance” for grantees who violate the conditions of their contract, which requires respect and promotion of the Church's core values.
Morin told the bishops that he believed that three “very particular isolated instances” were being used to paint CCHD and its 250 other grantees “with the same brush.”
However, in recent days members of the Reform the CCHD Now movement have presented evidence for inappropriate activities on the part of a wide number of CCHD grantees, significantly widening the brush beyond the three cases of problematic funding alluded to by Morin.
On Monday, the day before Morin's speech, the American Life League, an RCN member, revealed that they had discovered six more CCHD grantees engaged in activities contrary to Catholic teaching, such as promoting birth-control through sex-education, as well as Marxism, homosexuality, and greater access to condoms. In total these groups are allocated $220,000 for the year.
Michael Hichborn, ALL's lead-researcher on CCHD, charged that given the ease with which they found the information on these groups, the bishops' charitable organization could only be one of two things, either “incompetent or complicit.”
“We're finding more and more evidence every day with far less information than the CCHD receives through its granting process,” stated Hichborn.
Hichborn and Rob Gasper, founder of BVM, both appeared Friday on EWTN's “The World Over” program with Raymond Arroyo and argued their case for the needed reforms, explaining the evidence they had compiled, and revealing some new discoveries.
In his speech on Tuesday, Bishop Morin promised his fellow bishops that reform and “renewal” of its mission is in the works for CCHD, saying that even one case was one too many.
“We are using new tools to help ensure that groups keep their commitments, to avoid actions which conflict with Catholic Church teaching, and to not engage in any partisan political activity,” Morin concluded.
Discussion on Morin's report by the bishops, however, was tabled until Wednesday. Since the bishops did not discuss the CCHD report before the public session ended at 11 A.M., any discussion on the report will occur in their private session, which is closed off to reporters.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Reform CCHD Reps Reveal on EWTN Shocking Evidence Against USCCB Anti-Poverty Arm
Evidence said to suggest CCHD staff either “incompetent or complicit”