Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Bishop Gruss had defunded the CCHD. He stopped diocesan funding for the pro-abortion organization The Ezekiel Project, which is also funded by the CCHD.
SAGINAW, Michigan (LifeSiteNews) – After a report by the Lepanto Institute revealing that a recipient of a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) was “directly advocating for abortion” this year, Bishop Robert Gruss of the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, pulled his endorsement and funding of that grantee.
Gruss informed all parishes in his diocese in a weekly Chancery Notes email that he had notified the CCHD of “the Diocese of Saginaw’s disinterest to continue endorsing or providing funds for The Ezekiel Project.” In the email, the bishop also instructed all parishes to “sever their relationship with The Ezekiel Project as well.”
“We are an interfaith interracial, congregation-centered organization that addresses social justice issues and moves for systemic change within the Great Lakes Bay Region,” the organization’s website says. Its staff list their pronouns on the project’s website on the same page alongside Catholic parishes and priests.
The bishop stated his decision was “based on several issues that have become apparent over the past few months.” He later indicated that The Ezekiel Project’s support for abortion was one reason for severing ties with it.
According to a press release from the Lepanto Institute, the report “provided screenshots of the Ezekiel Project directly promoting the pro-abortion National Organization for Women (NOW) and calling for participation in two specifically pro-abortion events.”
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, praised Bishop Gruss’s work to uphold the faith in his diocese.
“Bishop Gruss is clearly working to maintain Catholic moral teaching by safeguarding his flock from the influence of this pro-abortion organization,” Hichborn said. “Sadly, the CCHD does not display the same concern. Ezekiel was identified as a member of the problematic Gamaliel Foundation by the Reform CCHD Now coalition in 2012, which should have served as advance warning that there may be issues later on.
“In 2019, its leadership took public positions in favor of abortion, giving a clear indication of the direction the organization itself would take. And its public support of the contraceptive peddling ‘sistas vans’ in 2020 should have immediately disqualified it from any consideration of funding. That it was defunded this late into 2022, and only after an outside organization reported on its evil actions, shows a breakdown in CCHD’s vetting process.”
Hichborn further explained that The Ezekiel Project was only one of many CCHD-funded groups that violate Catholic moral teaching, calling on the CCHD “to address the solid evidence presented in our full report” detailing the various groups and their violations of Catholic morals. The types of violations identified were support for abortion, LGBT lifestyles, contraception, Marxism, and the occult. A report for each group “provides visual evidence accompanied by a website link to the source.”
Hichborn stated, “The Ezekiel Project is one of sixty-six CCHD-funded organizations we profiled for attacking Catholic moral teaching, and the Diocese of Saginaw did the right thing by severing ties. That leaves sixty-five other CCHD-funded groups to be denied Catholic funds. While the Diocese of Saginaw took our information seriously and acted swiftly, the CCHD has yet to address the solid evidence presented in our full report on its grantees for 2020-2021.”
The Lepanto Institute’s full report on the grantees of the CCHD who violate Catholic moral teaching can be found here.
This is yet another major victory achieved by the Lepanto Institute’s dogged research uncovering Catholic funding of abortion advocates. Earlier in December, after Hichborn reported that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), CLINIC, and five diocesan Catholic charities were named in a list of active partners of a group called Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) — which was shown to support abortion and to have spoken against the overturning of Roe v. Wade — the Catholic groups formally cut ties with PIF.
The Lepanto Institute called on Catholic bishops “to withdraw from the CCHD entirely and push for it to be closed down, permanently.” In comments to LifeSiteNews, Hichborn said he considered Gruss’s withdrawal of funding and endorsement of The Ezekiel Project “a pretty big victory, considering the CCHD does NOT want it out that our information is accurate.”
Claire Chretien contributed to this report.