Tuesday August 31, 2010

Missouri Diocese: Axe All Community Organizing Groups from CCHD

By Kathleen Gilbert

KANSAS CITY, Missouri, August 31, 2010 ( – As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) prepares to receive a report on the controversial funding practices of their anti-poverty arm, one diocese has proposed a plan to cut off the group’s shadier associations.

The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph also suggested in a Monday post on its Catholic Key blog that its plan to reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which it has implemented on a local level, could be used as a template for revamping national CCHD operations.

Jude Huntz, director of the diocesan Human Rights Office, pinpointed “[CCHD’s] relationships with community organizing groups across the country” as “the fundamental problem with many CCHD grants.”

The CCHD offers both community organizing grants and economic development grants. However, wrote Huntz, the diocese concluded following investigations last year that community organizing groups at large, despite their laudable goal of helping the underprivileged, “began to develop a partisan edge to their work.”

“What is more, many organizing groups began to advocate for causes that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, most notably in the areas of abortion, same sex marriage, and health care reform,” he wrote.

Therefore, the diocese decided to “cease funding all community organizing projects in our diocese and not to grant such requests in the future,” said Huntz. He wrote that while the diocese “supports the concept of providing a voice to those who lack a voice in our society,” it also believes “that there are a variety of mechanisms to achieve such a goal that can take place without funding community organizing groups that offer positions contrary to Church teaching.”

“In the Church’s political advocacy work,” he continued, the diocese believes in the principle of “no permanent enemies, no permanent allies. Funding community organizing groups gives the impression that we are permanent allies when in fact we are not.

“We welcome alliances with such groups on particular issues, and we recognize that we will have to be on opposing sides on other issues. The decision not to fund community organizing groups enables the Church to maintain her autonomy while respecting the autonomy of these groups as well.”

Huntz noted that the diocesan CCHD office would therefore focus on economic development, an area in which none of the grants “were problematic in any way.”

“In our experience, we have found that economic development is an effective tool in combating poverty and in developing authentic community throughout the diocese,” he wrote. In the first year of the new plan, the diocese provided grants to a group that provides tutoring and organizational skills for urban youth, and another that offers business mentoring to low-income individuals.

Several U.S. Bishops have stopped allowing collections for CCHD after it was revealed that the group had ties to several pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” organizations. A report was delivered to every bishop in the U.S. earlier this year detailing the questionable affiliations maintained by CCHD.

Commenting on the diocese’s message in a blog post, Deal Hudson of opined that the diocese’s plan “is precisely what is needed to end the criticism of CCHD.”

“There’s no need to give any Catholic money to organizations which aid and abet the culture of death, in any way,” wrote Hudson. He nonetheless predicted that the idea “will not go over so well in many chanceries … and at the USCCB.”

See previous coverage on the CCHD scandal here.

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