Coalition of Catholic Groups Calls for Massive Reform of U.S. Bishops’ Social Justice Arm
By Patrick B. Craine
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 29, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new coalition of Catholic pro-life organizations is calling for a massive reform of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and urging Catholics to boycott the upcoming November collection.
The CCHD is the domestic social justice arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and focuses on supporting groups that work in community organizing. They have been accused over many years of supporting radical left-wing groups who advocate a distorted un-Catholic view of social justice. The organization primarily raises funds through an annual nationwide parish collection, this year scheduled for November 22nd.
Scandal erupted in the U.S. Church last year over the CCHD's funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a liberal network of local community activism groups. At least two dioceses, in fact, opted not to take up the collection last fall. The CCHD, which has given ACORN millions of dollars in the last ten years, cut their funding last year based on reports of embezzlement within the organization. In recent weeks, several ACORN offices were caught condoning child prostitution and sex trafficking in a series of videotaped sting operations conducted by veteran pro-life investigators.
The new pro-life coalition, which includes Human Life International (HLI), American Life League (ALL), and the new Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM), was formed following a report released in August by BVM which revealed that the CCHD was funding at least four groups that promote abortion, contraception, same-sex 'marriage', and even legalized prostitution. The report also listed numerous groups that are advocating the current proposal for health care reform without prejudice to its funding of abortion.
After LifeSiteNews.com presented the report to CCHD last month, Director Ralph McCloud responded that he was "shocked" and that they were taking "decisive action." He indicated that they had already defunded two groups and were still investigating the two others.
On October 2nd, Bishop Roger P. Morin, CCHD Chairman, issued a memo to the U.S. bishops as a response to BVM's report. Morin says that CCHD had defunded the Chinese Progressive Association and Young Worker's United (YWU), both San Francisco-based groups that advocate same-sex "marriage" and abortion.
The two other groups - LACAN and the Women's Community Revitalization Project - said Morin, "were investigated and, in consultation with the local dioceses, the charges proved to be inaccurate or a misunderstanding had occurred."
"These firm actions are consistent with CCHD's policies and practices, which deny funding to groups that take positions contrary to Catholic teaching," he insisted.
BVM Not Satisfied With CCHD Response to its Findings
BVM responded on October 8, saying that "After carefully and prayerfully considering Bishop Morin's response to our campaign, we must respectfully state that this response does not satisfactorily address our primary concerns and is factually deficient in several areas."
While Morin claims that the implicated groups had gone against Church teaching "after they were funded," BVM insists that "Young Workers United acted in support of abortion prior to approval to funding," and therefore should not have been funded in the first place.
"Also, the Chinese Progressive Association acted in support of homosexual marriage in 2006, yet still was cleared for funding in subsequent years," they write. "The CCHD must take responsibility for failure in properly screening these groups."
"While we are pleased with the rapid response in defunding both these organizations, the CCHD has yet to address how such organizations made it through the grants process in the first place," they continue. "This is our primary concern. Until the grants process is thoroughly investigated and reformed, the grave risk remains that organizations such as these may be funded in the future."
They go on to challenge Morin to further explain why the other two groups are to still be funded. "LA CAN explicitly promoted contraception and praised the work of its members in support of homosexual marriage in its own newsletter," they write. "Also, in regards to the Womens Community Revitalization Project our charge that this grantee was a coalition partner with the pro-abortion group WomenVote PA is not inaccurate."
LifeSiteNews.com contacted CCHD for comment, but did not hear back by press time.
The coalition is calling the CCHD to a major reform, focused on ensuring grantees' fidelity to Church teaching on social justice, family and life issues. They launched a website yesterday called Reform CCHD Now where they are calling on faithful Catholics to download and print out special coupons to be put in collection baskets on November 22nd.
The coupon states that the person is allocating their CCHD donation to a different group that conforms to Catholic teaching on social justice and issues relating to life and family. They have begun compiling a list of such groups on their website. The coupon indicates further that the person will be willing to continue supporting CCHD only after being assured, through "substantial published research into the funded groups," that these groups do not oppose Church teaching.
Coalition Lists Specific Actions Needed to Reform CCHD
The coalition wants an explanation of the CCHD's poor funding practices, "an independent audit of the CCHD grant process with the results published online," and greater vigilance from the organization in evaluating grantees for Church teaching on social justice, life, and family issues.
They are proposing, further, that the CCHD require grantees to sign a statement indicating they will not oppose Church teaching. BVM has said that such a statement should be posted to the websites of both CCHD and the grantee.
The coalition insists that "a complete reform of the CCHD" is needed, "not simply the occasional defunding of a problematic organization, followed by assurances that the problem has been solved, as has been the CCHD's response until now."
"We are trying to shed some light not only on the CCHD, but also on some wonderful organizations that actually serve the poor and disenfranchised in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching" said Rob Gasper, president of BVM, in a press release. "We just think that faithful Catholics in the pews should be able to trust that the money they give to the CCHD is going to reputable organizations that in no way work against the Church."
"We support without qualification our Catholic bishops," said Stephen Phelan, Communications Manager for Human Life International. "We are confident that many of them will support this call for greater transparency in the CCHD, and to a deep reform in the organization. In this campaign we are asking that the CCHD reconsider its philosophy and practices."
"We respectfully call the CCHD to respond to Pope Benedict's call in his recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, when he challenged development professionals to work towards an authentic, integral human development based on a Catholic view of the human person and in the Love and Truth of Jesus Christ," said Phelan.
Phelan told LSN that he thought CCHD's response to the BVM report was "a real positive thing." "We think that there's enough good potential there for [CCHD] to do great things," he added. "There should be such an arm in the Church, but it should be fixed."
Phelan noted that they have already received requests from several groups to join the coalition, which may be done through the website.
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
3211 Fourth St. NE
Washington DC 20017
To visit the Reform CCHD Now website click here.
Too see the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry Report click here.
See Left-Wing Radicalism in the Church: CCHD and ACORN (Human Events)
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
USCCB's Social Justice Arm Caught Funding Pro-Abortion/Prostitution Groups: Takes "Decisive" Action in Response
See the LifeSiteNews Feature Page regarding Canada's Development & Peace, a Catholics bishops' agency similar to CCHD.