A Time to be Heard

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.


Co-author of "Amazing Grace for Fathers", website at RaisingCatholicKids.com

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  • steve p

    Over adecade ago before either became manistream, The Wanderer, a lay Catholic newspaper out of St. Paul, MN, was doing articles about clerical sexual impropieties and CCHD’s funding of organizations who opposed Church teaching. The articles specifically went into a lot of detail about ACORN and other IAF affliated groups. Of course The Wanderer was labled a right wing rag by the mostly lefty Catholic media and hierarchy. Infact they wer way ahead on both issues, and a voice crying in the wilderness. They have been shut out of The Catholic Press Association.

  • noelfitz

    I am concerned that in CE there appears articles which are disloyal to the clergy and hierarchy. I would hope that we would be loyal and supportive citizens/members of our country and Church.

    Attacks on the bishops/USCCB are not constructive. Some here may be holier, better informed and cleverer that individual bishops, but the Church is a divinely created institution and is guided by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps bishops are better at running the Church, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, than some of us.

    I have read in CE that the ignorance of the bishops/USCCB is appalling. Expressing this type of opinion is not doing the Church any good.

    If the USCCB supports the CCHD, criticism of it should be carefully expressed in Catholic fora.

    Perhaps in a forum like Faith and Life the issue could be teased out in detail with respect, courteousness and loyalty.

  • Mary Kochan


    Point 1: Don’t confuse what is said in the comboxes with the articles by saying “I have read in CE” when you read it in the comboxes. That is like saying “I read in the New York Times” something that someone posted as a comment to one of their news stories.

    Point 2: Criticism of the CCHD IS carefully expressed WHEN it is factual. Laying out the facts is HOW one is careful. The idea that Catholic families ought to blindly turn over their money to anti-Catholic groups in this country, just because the money has been filtered through some diocese or some national organization created by the bishops is ridiculous. We are obligated by God to be good stewards of what he has blessed us with, which means we have to have transparency and hold accountable those to whom we make our donations — including the parish priests and the bishops. The bishops are obligated to be good stewards of what we tithe. We are not obligated to pretend they are being good stewards if we have evidence they are not. We are in fact obligated before God to deprive them of our funds if they are being poor stewards of them, because the funds ultimately belong to God — not the bishops and not us. We are even MORE SO obligated that way if we find out that the funds are being used to destroy lives, because otherwise we become remote cooperators with evil. Didn’t you get the memo that “pray, pay, and obey” as the sole obligation of the laity went out out with Vatican II?

  • jiminycricket

    Maybe we can get ACORN workers working on a “Get out the Coupon” effort so that the collection baskets can be full of them. 🙂

  • In his letter to Congressman Kennedy, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin quotes the Catechism when he states, “The ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ says this: ‘Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, “He who hears you, hears me,” the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.’” (#87)

    Catholics of every political affilition should take these words to heart.

    The gift of Apostolic Succession and Church Authority means that we can and must trust the Vicar of Christ to reprimand and correct the Shepherds. These Shepherds, in turn, correct and guide us. We should not stand in the place of judgement over them. The USCCB has asked us to give to this Sunday’s collection. As for me and my house, we will give.

    Throughout Church History, it is rare – very rare – that God gives an individual the task of guiding, instructing or reprimanding the Shepherds. This individual is always known for his/her heroic virtue and holy life – and he/she almost always would rather die a thousand deaths than speak out words of criticism. We should keep this in mind when we are inclined to criticize our shepherds.

  • The USCCB is not infallible. The USCCB has been wrong before. Whether or not we donate to the USCCB’s charity drives is a matter of prudential judgment. Not donating to this does not make one a bad Catholic–there are other ways to support the Church financially.

    Why try to prove your loyalty to the bishops by donating to anti-Catholic groups through them? There are better ways to support our bishops.

  • Denise, if “He who hears you, hears me” applies in the case of the bishops’ CCHD, and if the CCHD does fund groups which promote things like abortion, homosexual “marriage” etc., then what exactly is Christ saying to us?

  • noelfitz

    Many thanks for your reply to me.

    I am pleased that Denise seems to support my views, We, the people of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church Militant, are members of the one true Church, it is not a democracy, it is hierarchical.

    I quote from what I read somewhere:
    “Cardinal Francis George says that Catholics who have questions about some positions taken by the church hierarchy or hold different views from the bishops are “less than fully Catholic.””.

    However Cardinal George , like Cardinal Mahony, has been criticized , as have the USCCB, whose views, I would imagine, represent the views of the leaders of the US Catholic Church.

    As regards to your point 1: I agree fully with you. I do not imagine that all my views would be taken to reflect those of CE.

    Re Point 2: You wrote: “We are not obligated to pretend they are being good stewards if we have evidence they are not.” Do you have evidence that the bishops are not good stewards? If so a detailed case should be prepared and submitted to Rome. Who do you suggest should replace these bad (= not good) stewards?

    However, Mary, I was pleased to hear your comments, as I consider you a good friend of mine and your views are solid, sound and sincere. You have never written anything contrary to Catholic belief, as far as I can see. But neither have I. You claim we do not agree on religious topics, I claim our differences are only about politics. As an Irish male, who has been a Catholic for almost 70 years, it is expected my views and yours would differ on inessentials. But as both of us belong to the one true Church it is not surprising we agree on fundamentals.

    So again, Mary, thank you for your post. I would prefer to be disagreed with than ignored. Your posts to me have been robust, clear, honest and charitable. I appreciate your solid work for the Church.

    God bless both of us and our families and also all who participate here.

  • To Denise, Noel and others that believe that somehow it is “UnCatholic” to challenge the Catholic Campaign for Human Development after money was spent on pro-abortion groups, organizations that promote contraception and homosexual marriage. I would remind you of a couple of things from both the Catechism and what our Bishops have said to Catholics in the past.

    First, the part of the letter that Bishop Tobin wrote to Congressman Kennedy comes from our Catechism under the heading about matters in the “Interpretation of the Heritage of Faith”…this concerns dogma, the supernatural sense of faith and growth in the understanding of faith. Lay Catholics certainly can and must stand up and point out scandal in the Church when they confront evil, wherever and whenever it arises. We have a duty to do as much. Catholics are not challenging matters of faith over the issue of the CCHD, in fact it is quite the opposite.

    Second, The Bishops have instructed American Catholics in the past that our greatest duty is to form ourselves into models of virtue and become sound morally in matters of the faith. You can’t have it both ways, if we form our consciences and see something that is inherently evil, i.e. giving money to groups that promote abortion, homosexual marriage and contraception, then we are called to point that out, as it says in the Catechism, “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act…[Every person] is obliged to follow faithfully what he [or she] knows to be just and right” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1778). We Catholics have a lifelong obligation to form our consciences in accord with human reason, enlightened by the teaching of Christ as it comes to us through the Church.

    The Church also teaches the virtue of prudence. Is it really prudent to give money to the CCHD when it is clear that millions of dollars has and continues to go to be funneled to morally suspect groups??? Again our Church has instructed us as lay Catholics to, “to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1806). Prudence shapes and informs our ability to deliberate over available alternatives, to determine what is most fitting to a specific context, and to act. Doing good and avoiding evil. There are some things we must never do as Catholics and one of those is supporting acts of abortion passively or directly.

    This Sunday, as I said in my article, we should still donate money, but we should send a loud and clear message that pro-life Catholics will be sending their money to organizations that are not tainted by scandal as clearly the CCHD is at this time. We have a sacred duty to uphold in this regard.

  • rakeys

    The CCHD is attempting to promote social justice. Many of these organizations do good deeds. However. the Bishops need to look closer into the people donating the money to insure that they are not funding abortion or other evils.
    We do need to speak up against our Bishops when they are going against the teachings of Jesus Christ. I wish somenone in addition to, and other than, Martin Luther would have spoken to the Bishop in Germany that was selling indulgences and convinced him that it violated Christ’s teachings.

  • I would say, obey the bishops and trust God with the outcome. Publicizing what the CCHD is up to and charitably pointing out to the Bishops that they may be making a mistake is neither disloyal nor disobedient. But in the end, it is their judgment that matters most. I have disagreed with my pastor in the past, for example, and he has gone on and done things his way in spite of it. But I find peace in knowing that God’s will has been done through his ordained representative and the matter is out of my hands. Sometimes all we can do is quietly speak up and then let the issue go.

  • et1jake

    It most certainly is proper to challeng the bishops on this issue. It is not only the right of most of the faithful, but their responsibility as well. The church doesn’t like to teach this to the soon to be confirmed anymore; but confirmation just doesn’t endow us with gifts from the Holy Spirit. It places both the honor and burden on us a “Defenders of the Faith” (Fidei Defensor).
    Most look upon this as defending the Church from external attacks from society, media, and other religions, bust the most difficult responsibility is defending the Church from within. While external attackers of our faith have most assuredly cause great damage to our faith, especially in terms of torture and death; historically the faith grew stronger and more united during those times. The internal attackers, however, destroyed souls causing division and loss of faith. Who were Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli before they were heretics? They were Roman Catholic priests. Defending the faith from within – the most important, most difficult, and most treacherous task for the “Fidei Defensor “.

  • noelfitz

    You wrote:
    “We do need to speak up against our Bishops when they are going against the teachings of Jesus Christ. I wish someone in addition to, and other than, Martin Luther would have spoken to the Bishop in Germany that was selling indulgences and convinced him that it violated Christ’s teachings.”

    This sounds interesting. Are you suggesting that when I decide bishops are in error and going against the teaching of Jesus Christ, I should speak up? Should I also start my own Church?

    Did you really thunk that others should have joined Martin Luther when he spoke up? Quite a few did.

  • Mary Kochan

    Actually, Luther did not go wrong in criticizing sale of indulgences. He went wrong in denying the doctrine of indulgences. Not the same thing.

    We don’t go wrong in criticizing the use of our donated funds for abortion and other evil things. We would go wrong, if, for example, we were to deny that the Church was to be engaged in the corporal works of mercy.

    So let’s not get confused.

    And yes, a lot of CATHOLICS who STAYED CATHOLIC did join Martin Luther’s criticism of the sale of indulgences. They brought about the Catholic Reformation — which involved a LOT of criticism of what the bishops were doing and demanded reform.

  • Noel, your statement , “when I decide bishops are in error and going against the teachings of Jesus Christ, should I speak up? Should I also start my own Church?” misses the point entirely.

    The USCCB on matters concerning the CCHD are not speaking about a matter of faith. In fact it is quite the opposite. (see my earlier post on this). Many Catholics are concerned about the inherent evil some of these organizations that the CCHD gives our money to. That’s the issue. It is not doctrinal. We don’t want to start our own Church, we want our Church to follow its own teachings. To be pure and free from the taint of sin.

    Another historical example that might be useful for you to consider, though, would be this…what would you do if all the Bishops in the United States decided to leave Rome and demanded that all American Catholics follow with them or face death? That is what happened in the 16th Century in England. Blind obedience in the face of certain evil is not a good thing either. Had lay Catholics in England revolted and demanded their Church not leave them, we would not have had the Anglican split either. It goes both ways.

  • Mary S.

    Thanks to Mark & Mary for pointing out the difference between matters of faith & morals ( which are the legitimate authority of our bishops IF they are in union with the magisterium of the Church) and something like spending our money for groups that don’t uphold the teachings of the Church.( That is a matter of the judgment of the bishops & in this case it appears that the evidence is rather strong that they have erred). We will have to give an accounting to the Lord for each thought, word, vote, & penny spent. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our money which means we need to decide whether to contribute to groups that undermine the teachings of the Church or to other groups which build the Kingdom. We plan to boycott the CCHD & give our money to pro-life, pro-family groups.

  • What does St. Paul say here? “Test all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

    I wonder what the Apostle would say about misusing Church funds? Or about accusing Catholics of disloyalty because they scrutinize how our donations get spent?

  • jiminycricket

    It is perfectly legitimate to rebuke and confront the bishops on ACTIONS that are in conflict with our faith, including the supporting (direct or indirect) of things like abortion, homosexuality, artificial contraception, etc., just like Paul rebuked Peter for his actions.

    My pastor has “canceled” the CCHD collection at our parish.
    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, not the CCHD (this year).

    Lest we forget, let us continue in prayer for the bishops. They need to be strengthened through our prayers. May the CCHD be reformed

  • et1jake

    Mary Kochan says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    “Actually, Luther did not go wrong in criticizing sale of indulgences. He went wrong in denying the doctrine of indulgences. Not the same thing.”

    True for the indulgences, but Luther went wrong on WAY more than that issue.

    “We don’t go wrong in criticizing the use of our donated funds for abortion and other evil things. We would go wrong, if, for example, we were to deny that the Church was to be engaged in the corporal works of mercy.”

    Quite right and correctly pointed out, but I don’t think there is an issue with the performance of corporal works of mercy. I do see an issue with a large bureaucracy created to do these corporal works. It parallels the many government programs, which may have had good intentions, but become so large that they end up misguided and inefficient.
    We can’t have the faithful become complacent to the misuse of their donations; nor can we have them become so sciddish and distrustful that they will start to withhold donations from even the most worthy of causes. CCHD needs to clean its act up or the bishops risk alienating the faithful. I feel part of the problem with CCHD is that it looks for the most POLITICALLY CORRECT organizations to give to, instead of the most needy ones.