Thursday June 17, 2010

Michigan Bishop Withholds CCHD Funds

By Patrick B. Craine

GAYLORD, Michigan, June 17, 2010 ( – Another United States bishop is taking precautions in light of continuing allegations that the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), is funding groups that support abortion and other activities contrary to Catholic teaching.

Bishop Bernard Hebda of Gaylord, Michigan has decided to delay sending funds to CCHD from the 2010 collection while the organization is under review, LifeSiteNews has learned.

Candace Neff, communications director for the Gaylord diocese, emphasized that the bishop has not “discontinued” the collection for CCHD. “A tremendous amount of very important work is accomplished through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” she said.

She explained that unlike other dioceses, Gaylord rolls many of the annual special collections, including the one for CCHD, into one large Catholic Services Appeal that takes place in the spring. In most U.S. dioceses, the special collection for CCHD is taken up in November.

“After consulting with a number of advisors Bishop Hebda has decided that for this year (2010), while CCHD’s systems are under review, a donation will not automatically be sent to CCHD from funds donated through the Diocese of Gaylord’s Catholic Services Appeal Campaign,” she said.

“It is possible that a special collection might be taken up for CCHD in our parishes later in the year so that those who like to contribute to CCHD’s ministries might do so. But that decision has not yet been reached,” she added.

CCHD has been embroiled in controversy over its funding practices since September, when the Texas-based Bellarmine Veritas Ministries (BVM) began releasing reports with evidence that numerous CCHD grantees are involved in promoting abortion, same-sex “marriage” and contraception, among other things.

Though CCHD reacted by defunding two of the groups, many concerned Catholics were dissatisfied with the response. Leading up to the national collection in November, BVM and other groups such as Human Life International and American Life League joined forces to call for a boycott of the collection. The Reform CCHD Now Coalition (RCN) argued that supporting CCHD while it continues to fund groups advocating practices contrary to the Catholic faith would constitute complicity in those practices.

Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, who heads the U.S. Bishops’ CCHD subcommittee, defended the group in an address at the bishops’ plenary meeting in November. He denounced those who “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.”

But 10 bishops, representing over 5% of U.S. dioceses, have decided to no longer take up the collection due to concerns about CCHD’s funding practices. A number of others have made public calls for CCHD’s reform.

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, told LifeSiteNews in November that he questions CCHD’s “ideology.” He said he would not offer the collection in his diocese until there were “some changes in the organization itself, or its purposes, or its goals.”

He said that Bishop Morin too easily dismissed the concerns. “We are shocked at the scandalous participation with the ACORN organization and also the participation with other organizations of questionable moral values or standards.” He added that CCHD’s “controversial character made it appear that it was not effective” in meeting its purposes.

RCN compiled a full report of their evidence on each of the implicated CCHD grantees, and sent it to every U.S. bishops earlier this month. The report aims to highlight the fact that many of the concerns about CCHD have yet to be addressed, and to ensure that the bishops have the most up-to-date information.

Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, a member of RCN, praised Bishop Hebda’s decision saying “it is completely in line with what faithful Catholics expect from their shepherds: that great care is taken in determining who receives the money that they give.”

“Who knows how many other bishops are already taking this approach?” he asked.

Phelan emphasized that Catholics want to serve the poor and to support groups that do so, but said this must be done only “in ways that do not oppose the Church.”

The Reform CCHD campaign, he said, is meant “to bring accountability to those who should have been doing what Bishop Hebda and other faithful bishops have been doing all along – being very careful that Catholic’s hard-earned money isn’t co-opted by those working against the Church in the name of false ‘social justice.’”

See related coverage:

US Bishops Prepare to Consider CCHD’s Future

Bishop Bruskewitz on CCHD: Bishop Morin Was a “Bit Too Dismissive” of Concerns

List of Bishops Not Holding CCHD Collection:

Bishop Joseph Adamec – Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Bishop Robert J. Baker – Birmingham, Alabama

Bishop John O. Barres – Allentown, Pennsylvania

Bishop Lawrence Brandt – Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz – Lincoln, Nebraska

Bishop Victor Galeone – St. Augustine, Florida

Bishop Robert C. Morlino – Madison, Wisconsin

Bishop Kevin Rhoades (formerly) – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Bishop David Ricken – Green Bay, Wisconsin

Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa, Oklahoma