Last Sunday, as part of my commentator duties at the close of Mass, I read an announcement reminding parishioners of this Sunday’s collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Moments later, I left church with a copy of Our Sunday Visitor in hand. This Catholic weekly newspaper carried an article warning that a number of CCHD grants funded organizations that act against Catholic teaching. The CCHD have given millions of dollars to groups that participate in such things as abortions, promotion of homosexual marriages and some recipients were involved in cases of alleged embezzlement and voter registration fraud.
What is the CCHD?
Here is a little background according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development [founded in 1969] is the domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Its mission is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education.
Last year after CCHD pulled their funding from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) because of the national scandal, Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) began looking into other CCHD recipients. They found several grantees that had promoted contraception or abortion and issued voter guides in 2008 advocating homosexual marriage. A coalition called, Reform CCHD Nowwas formed when BVM joined forces with American Life League and Human Life International. Their website is http://www.ReformCCHDNow.com.
Misuse of Funds
Information on the site states that despite assurances to the contrary, the “CCHD has funded groups that openly oppose the Church’s teachings, including:
· Young Workers United – supports abortion rights, legalized prostitution and gay marriage.
· The Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) – supports abortion rights and gay marriage, actively urging its members to vote against Prop 8 in California, which would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
· People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) – currently campaigning for the a version of healthcare reform, which has government-funding of abortion and does not protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who decline to perform or refer for abortions.
What Should Our Response Be?
Many good Catholics are left wondering, “What should we do? Do we put money in the envelope to support our Church? Or, do we refuse to support an organization that is either careless with our donations or complicit in anti-Catholic causes.”
Simply ignoring the call for donations might not send a strong enough message to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops which has the ultimate authority over the CCHD. After all, given the hard economic times, a dearth of donations may be mistaken for lack of funds rather than lack of support.
On their website Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) recommends that Catholics not contribute to the CCHD this year. In fact they want three things to be reformed before any more money is donated ever again:
1. Immediate and public removal of funding from the grantees which blatantly contradict Church teaching on life issues and morality;
2. Grantees which support the current health care reform legislation must state clearly and publicly that they will not promote any piece of legislation which gives federal support to abortion or family planning;
3. A better system of oversight must be put in place to prevent such organizations from receiving CCHD funding in the future.
BVM says that until these demands are met, Catholics should consider donating to familiar local groups which aid the poor or some other charity which is in line with Church social and moral teaching as a substitute for donating to the CCHD. They also suggest that instead of simply abstaining from putting those envelopes into this Sunday’s collection, to print out a statement of protest into the envelope lest the message be lost. The coalition even offers suggested text which can be printed out from their website: http://reformcchdnow.com/coupon/coupon.pdf.
I ________________ am withholding my donation to the CCHD this year due to the discovery that money from this collection has been used to fund groups which promote abortion and other practices which violate our Catholic faith. Until the CCHD implements measures which will prevent such groups from receiving funding, I will donate to a charity which better fulfills our call to help those in need.
Reform, it seems, is often a slow process. Scandals are not always addressed forcefully or openly. When the Church delays in correcting her mistakes, however, disillusionment among the laity usually follows.
Scandal creates inner conflict within the Catholic community. After all, we have not followed the protestant example of protesting. Faithful Catholics follow Church authority, but it’s only logical that we expect that authority not to waver. So, if there are any organizations that defy Catholic teachings, they should not receive funding from the CCHD. The message should be clear: Catholics will not put their money into organizations that violate Catholic teaching.