By Patrick B. Craine

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 17, 2009 ( – The Archdiocese of Chicago's Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) office has penned a letter decrying the recent criticism over CCHD's funding practices.

Signed by Chicago director Rey Flores and other staff members, and published last Friday by Catholic columnist Matt C. Abbott, the letter accuses “certain groups” of having “motivations and objectives [that] are rooted in partisan politics, rather than faithfulness to Catholic teaching and concern for the poor.”  These groups have made “erroneous and inflammatory statements,” they say, and their “anti-CCHD rhetoric has only become more fervent and hateful.”

“Those who are trying to destroy the [CCHD] deny the legitimate and pressing need for a faithful response to poverty in our communities,” the letter from CCHD Chicago continues.  “We must not allow the deceitful cries of these detractors, whose partisan agendas supersede their faith, to weaken our commitment to living out the message of Christ and the ideals of Catholic Social Teaching.”

While CCHD's funding practices have been criticized by conservative Catholics for decades, a focused effort to reform the organization was launched this fall in response to an August report by the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM), which revealed, in particular, that four current CCHD grantees were actively supporting abortion, contraception, and/or same-sex “marriage.”

The CCHD defunded two of the groups, but continued funding the others.  Since then, further evidence has implicated numerous other groups, and a coalition of Catholic organizations, Reform CCHD Now (RCN), has formed leading up to the November 22nd annual collection.

Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International (HLI) and RCN spokesman, told (LSN) that he believes the letter was probably not directed towards their reform movement specifically.  “There's clearly nothing hateful about [our stuff], and all of the facts are thoroughly documented,” he said, “so we think they were actually referring to some people who were a little bit less careful in their research, a little more strident in their tone.”

The Chicago CCHD office, he told Abbott, should “distinguish between what they call 'hateful' criticism and that which our partners at [BVM] and certain others have offered: factual reports on organizations that have been – and, in some cases, continue to be – funded by the national CCHD.”

Michael Hichborn, researcher for American Life League (ALL) and RCN spokesman, told Abbott that the accusation of partisan politics is “patently false,” and that, instead, RCN's “criticisms are rooted in the fact that [CCHD grantees] have been, and still are, involved in activities and in promoting philosophies that completely contradict Church teaching.”

He asks that CCHD explain how they have made “erroneous and inflammatory statements” by providing “a full and detailed explanation regarding each and every group we profile on our website.”

Contact Information:

Rey Flores
Director – Catholic Campaign for Human Development / Parish Sharing
Archdiocese of Chicago
3525 S. Lake Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653-1402
tel. (312)534-3690
fax (312)528-9380
[email protected]

Catholic Campaign for Human Development
3211 Fourth St. NE
Washington DC 20017
v: 202-541-3210
f: 202-541-3329
[email protected]

See related coverage:

Reform CCHD Reps Reveal on EWTN Shocking Evidence Against USCCB Anti-Poverty Arm