Friday February 5, 2010

CCHD Scandal Picks Up Steam as Bishops React

By Patrick B. Craine and John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2010 ( – Various offices of the U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB) have reacted to the two new reports issued by the Reform CCHD Now coalition (RCN) this week, but the reactions, claims RCN, have not addressed the core message of their reports.

While RCN has offered evidence that 31 CCHD grantees are partnered with a pro-abortion and homosexualist group, the Center for Community (CCC), and that two USCCB officials have served on the same group’s board, the reactions have focused primarily on defending the pro-life beliefs of one of those officials – John Carr, who, as executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

The report on Carr’s involvement in CCC was received by some as questioning Carr’s personal pro-life convictions. However, RCN says that the reports in question – one from American Life League (ALL) and another from the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) – specified that they were not questioning Carr or any USCCB staffer’s personal stance on pro-life.

Immediately after the issuing of the reports Monday, a line supporting CCC was quietly removed from the CCHD website. Not so quiet however was the backlash against the perceived attack on Carr.

Tom Grenchik, the USCCB’s national director for pro-life activities, in a message which was sent on Tuesday to all the diocesan pro-life offices said, “I am happy to report to you that John Carr is staunchly pro-life, a partner in USCCB pro-life efforts and he worked diligently to keep abortion out of the many recent health care reform efforts.”

Priests for Life President Fr. Frank Pavone also stepped up in defense of Carr, stating on his blog: “I have had many opportunities to talk to and listen to John over the years, in public and in private, to read his articles, and to discuss our common goal of seeing social justice and peace applied to our neighbors in the womb.”

While RCN coalition members said they were pleased to hear these affirmations of Carr’s pro-life stance, they also said they were concerned with what they called “false” accusations from other officials which, they said, led even bishops to misconstrue their actions and intentions.

National CCHD director Ralph McCloud, Carr’s subordinate, also responded to the reports about his organization in an e-mail yesterday morning to the nation’s diocesan CCHD directors. McCloud referred to what he called “very disturbing allegations that have been posted by many ‘news’ sources lately regarding John Carr and his relationship to the Center for Community Change.”

“The attacks allege that John promotes abortion and homosexual agendas,” said McLoud.

LifeSiteNews (LSN) attempted to contact Ralph McCloud, but did not hear back by press time.

Michael Hichborn of RCN member ALL told LSN today that, “We never once alleged that John Carr promotes abortion and homosexual agendas, and all of our public commentary verifies this.” Hitchborn added, “In fact, in the initial report that I wrote, I specifically stated that we are not questioning the pro-life convictions of John Carr or anyone he works with.”

In Carr’s response to the RCN reports, he reiterated his pro-life convictions and accused RCN members of not contacting him prior to releasing their reports, saying that “Neither the American Life League nor the Bellarmine Institute contacted me, CCHD or the bishops’ conference before making these accusations.”

But Hichborn claims that Carr’s accusation is “false.” Rob Gasper, head of RCN member BVM said, “Carr has stated on multiple occasions that he will not meet or discuss issues with either ALL or [Human Life International].” Gasper added, “The information in the BVM report should not have come as a surprise since it was primarily discussing information released well over two months ago.”

Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Roger Morin, Chairman of the USCCB’s CCHD Subcommittee, picked up on criticisms of the RCN reports and forcefully condemned RCN members, one going so far as to suggest RCN had engaged in dishonesty and calumny regarding Carr.

“I’m concerned about these attacks on John Carr and I know they are false and I think they are even calumnious,” said Bishop Murphy, in an interview with Catholic News Service (CNS). “I am taking this to be a very sad, sad commentary on the honesty of some people in these pressure groups.”

“Personally I think (the claims) are totally ridiculous,” Bishop Morin told CNS.

LSN contacted the Diocese of Rockville Center, Bishop Murphy’s See, but did not hear back by press time. The Diocese of Biloxi was unable to answer questions about Bishop Morin’s comments.

RCN told LSN that they hope to shift the focus back onto CCC and the implicated CCHD grantees, and expressed disappointment that the CCHD and USCCB staff are “skirting” the issue.

Gasper told LSN on Thursday that he “find[s] it telling that instead of addressing the well documented evidence brought forward in both the ALL and BVM reports, McCloud and Carr seem fixated on characterizing our efforts as a personal attack on Carr’s pro-life beliefs. Neither the ALL or BVM reports question Carr on his pro-life convictions.”

Gasper said that he was “disappointed” that the “salient points” in his report have not yet been addressed yet. “Perhaps,” he said, “both Carr and McCloud’s time and energy would be better spent screening some of the organizations the USCCB cooperates with rather than responding to accusations that were never made in the first place.”

Responding to Bishop Murphy’s charge of ‘calumny’, Hichborn reiterated that they have not accused Carr of being pro-abortion or pro-homosexual. “So unless the bishops can find fault in our report about the Center for Community Change or the funding practices of the CCHD, they would do well to avoid such hyperbole,” he stated.

Dr. Deal Hudson of Catholic Advocate, another RCN member, told LSN that “the reports were never intended to target John Carr or question his pro-life credentials.” Hudson added: “The intent was to present more evidence that the grant making process at CCHD needs serious overhaul. They were to underscore the need for the USCCB to rethink its relationships to social service and community organizing institutions.”

Catholic Advocate has called on the USCCB to suspend all grants from CCHD until a complete review of the award process occurs.

Contact Information:

Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Diocese of Rockville Centre

50 North Park Ave. (PO Box 9023)

Rockville Centre, NY 11571-9023

Phone: 516-678-5800 ext. 400

Fax: 516-764-3316

E-mail: [email protected]

Bishop Roger Morin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Diocese of Biloxi

1790 Popps Ferry Rd.

Biloxi, MS


Phone: 228-702-2111

Fax: 228-702-2178

John Carr, Executive Director (Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development)

3211 4th Street, N.E.

Washington, D.C.


Phone: 202-541-3181

E-mail: [email protected]

Ralph McCloud, Director (Catholic Campaign for Human Development)

3211 4th Street, N.E.

Washington, D.C.


Phone: 202-541-3367

E-mail: [email protected]

See related coverage:

U.S. Bishops’ Media Director Who Exonerated Exec Admits to Not Reading Key Report

U.S. Bishops’ Exec Responds to Charges of Cooperation with Pro-Abortion, Homosexualist Group