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Bishops Conference Misses the Point on CCHD Issues

Catholic Advocate believes it is important to update the 75,000 members of our community on the activities of the past week in regard to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) officials’ involvement with pro-abortion groups who received CCHD grants. CCHD grants are available to be distributed due to the generosity of parishes throughout the country holding a “national collection” the weekend before Thanksgiving each year. Therefore, it is important for American Catholics to be aware how their money is being spent and the extra-curricular activities of those in positions to influence grant recipients.

Monday, February 1, 2010

American Life League (ALL) and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) released additional evidence regarding problems with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The information was a continuation of issues raised in November regarding providing grants to groups that support activities in conflict with Church teachings.  Click here to read the full report.

New information revealed a senior member of the USCCB staff and a subordinate served as board members for the Center for Community Change (CCC), an organization along with 31 of its partners at the heart of the questions regarding CCHD grants.

Instead of responding to the questions raised by the two reports, USCCB official John Carr provided a Statement to Our Sunday Visitor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Catholic Advocate leadership published two separate articles on the ALL and BVM reports along with a press release calling upon the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to suspend all grants until completing a thorough independent review of the award process. In addition, Catholic Advocate called on the Conference to examine the minutes of the CCC meetings during the period when USCCB staff were members of the board.

More Disturbing News about the CCHD

A Case of Cafeteria Catholicism at the Bishops’ Conference

Press Release: Bishops Must Immediately Suspend All Grants From Catholic Campaign for Human Development Program

Unfortunately, USSCB officials are missing the point regarding management questions of CCHD money by erroneously claiming the issues raised are personal attacks. If there are reasonable explanations for the questions raised in the ALL and BVM reports, then why are USCCB officials employing rhetorical deflection? And, in the spirit of transparency regarding the distribution of donations, why has neither the USCCB nor Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi responded to Catholic Advocate’s call for a review to “clear the air” about how CCHD donations are spent?

Below is the text of a USCCB Memo distributed on Tuesday:

Date:  February 2, 2010

To:      Diocesan Pro-Life Directors

State Catholic Conference Directors

From:  Tom Grenchik, Executive Director

Re:      American Life League report

Dear Director:

You may have read of the recent accusations by the American Life League against our friend and colleague, John Carr.  The American Life League charges that John Carr served on the board of a secular organization called “Center for Community Change” that now supports abortion and gay rights agendas.

I am happy to report to you that John Carr is staunchly pro-life, a partner in USCCB pro-life efforts and he worked diligently to keep abortion out of the many recent health care reform efforts.  Were it not for his efforts and those of others, our country would now be funding abortion and health plans that provide abortion, on a massive scale.  This would have been the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.  This challenge is far from over, and John remains steadfast in his effort to advocate for health care reform that protects human life.

John has replied to the ALL accusations with the following:

“Neither the American Life League nor the Bellermine Institute contacted me, CCHD or the Bishops Conference before making these accusations. If they had, they would have learned that I left the Board of the Center for Community Change February of 2005 and that I had no involvement in or knowledge of the actions alleged in the press release. My experience with CCC was that it focused on poverty, housing and immigration and had no involvement in issues involving abortion and homosexuality.  When I served, the Board never discussed or acted on any position involving these matters and if they had, I would have vigorously opposed any advocacy for access to abortion or gay marriage.  I have spent my personal and professional life defending human life and dignity and Catholic teaching, including current efforts to keep abortion funding out of health care reform.  I regret that once again the failure to contact me or CCHD has led to unfair allegations in attempts to undermine the essential work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”

Thanks so much!

Tom

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Roger P. Morin of Biloxi, Miss. speak to Catholic News Service echoing the personal attack talking points developed by USCCB staff. Even though, according to the Catholic News Service Website, “While created in 1920 by the bishops of the United States, CNS is editorially independent and a financially self-sustaining division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops”, CNS only spoke to officials with the USCCB and not ALL or BVM.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ALL responded with an open letter to Mr. Grenchik. Catholic Advocate is reprinting the letter in its entirety to continue to inform our community about this important issue:

“The following letter was written in response to an e-mail dated February 2, 2010, sent to all diocesan pro-life office and state Catholic conference directors by Tom Grenchik, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. We are responding publicly because we do not have access to Mr. Grenchik’s e-mail list.”

Dear Mr. Grenchik,

Your February 2 letter to diocesan pro-life and Catholic conference directors incorrectly claims we are accusing the executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of supporting abortion and the radical homosexual agenda.

There is no doubt that John Carr (who, as head of this department, has oversight of Catholic Campaign for Human Development) has spoken often about the need to defend the preborn; moreover, this is not the issue. As we have stated repeatedly, we are not calling into question John Carr’s pro-life convictions.

The issue is a serious lack of prudence displayed by the USCCB’s social justice arm in its dealings with organizations whose aims directly contradict Church teaching. We have provided carefully verified and detailed factual evidence to support this charge.

I tried to meet and speak with John Carr several months ago, when American Life League joined the Reform CCHD Now coalition, but he refused. Thus, his claim that we never contacted him is false.

I have reported on at least 50 CCHD grantees engaged in activities contrary to Church teaching—and which continue to receive CCHD funds. I disproved the CCHD’s claim that there is nothing wrong with the San Francisco Organizing Project by providing evidence that it helped to create and promote pro-abortion “health care” legislation, but the CCHD was silent. We reported on the 31 CCHD grantees partnered with the Center for Community Change, which embraces a radical pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda, but again, the CCHD was silent.

So, when we reported on John Carr’s chairmanship of the Board of Directors for the Center for Community Change, we suggested that the CCHD’s silence and apparent lack of response might be the result of his cozy relationship with this organization.

Our charge of serious imprudence was further validated by the following findings:

*  We released our report on the morning of February 1. At that time, we had verified that the CCC was endorsed on the CCHD’s web site, but later that same day, the reference to the CCC had mysteriously disappeared.

* Tom Chabolla, who worked under Carr at the CCHD until 2008, served on the CCC board while working for the CCHD.

* Ralph McCloud, the CCHD’s current director, spoke at a CCC-sponsored event that praised the election of Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.

This is only a small piece of a much larger picture. The CCHD has a long history of funding and collaborating with organizations that promote abortion and the radical homosexual agenda, and this history continues to this day.

In fact, it recently came to our attention that John Carr will be presenting this weekend at the  USCCB-sponsored 2010 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. There are several problems with this conference, but we will mention just a few here.

Diana Hayes is a professor of systematic theology at Georgetown University and noted speaker for Call to Action, the radical “Catholic” dissident group. Hayes is a radical homosexual activist who wrote a book espousing liberation theology, calls for women’s ordination and promotes same-sex “marriage.”

Mind you, these are not mere incidental associations; these speakers were invited by the USCCB as authorities to address our Church’s supposed defenders of the poor, and workers for peace and justice. Can anyone look at this speaker lineup and think that the USCCB is thinking clearly about Catholic social teaching? Why are those who represent openly anti-life and pro-homosexualist organizations treated as experts in the field of peace and justice by Catholics who should know better?

How many of our bishops know that these representatives of anti-Catholic organizations and philosophies are being treated—by the USCCB, no less—as experts on Catholic teaching?

Page 6 of the conference program book  provides a schedule for the Catholic Labor Network gathering.

John Carr is scheduled to join Paul Booth (a founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society) in a panel discussion. Paul Booth’s wife is Heather Booth, who currently sits on the board of the Center for Community Change. Paul and Heather Booth founded the Midwest Academy, a training institute for left-wing community organizers.

Heather Booth is also a former consultant for the National Organization for Women and in 1965, organized a group called JANE, which helped young women obtain illegal abortions. More directly, Paul Booth joins his wife as a member of the host committee for the National Organization for Women’s Intrepid Awards Gala. Currently, Paul Booth is executive assistant to the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The AFSCME endorsed the pro-abortion March for Freedom of Choice, held in Washington, D.C. in 2004.

Also presenting at the Catholic Labor Network gathering is Father Thomas Reese, SJ, who resigned as editor of America magazine, reportedly under pressure by the Vatican, for his refusal to stop publishing articles that questioned Church teachings on issues such as contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, homosexual priests,  mandatory clerical celibacy and whether pro-abortion “Catholic”  politicians should be given Holy Communion.

As Catholics, we are hurt, we are scandalized and we are horrified that the USCCB continues to cavort with the enemies of the body of Christ, even to the point of inviting them to speak as authorities on the Catholic view of social justice, which they most certainly are not. The primary purpose of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls, not to “develop economic strength and political power” as professed in the CCHD’s mission statement.

We have simply presented the facts about CCHD funding for these radical organizations; yet other than defunding a very few organizations, the CCHD has thus far refused to take appropriate action and, so far, John Carr has refused to speak with us.

Again, our report is not about his pro-life credentials, but about his and others’ continued cooperation with those who openly oppose the Church and undermine her moral authority.

We ask you with all due respect to stop misrepresenting our claims and ignoring the thrust of our reports by recasting them as a personal attack on John Carr. Both honesty and charity require you set the record straight with the directors of state Catholic conferences and diocesan pro-life offices.

Michael Hichborn

Lead researcher on the CCHD

American Life League

Catholic Advocate will continue to monitor any further developments and provide our community with timely information about this important issue.

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One Response to Bishops Conference Misses the Point on CCHD Issues

  1. ron gajdos says:

    Please Mr Grenchik,

    What happened to the way of the cross stained glass window my great grandparents paid for with their meager dollars in whiting indiana in a poor croatian church? I’ll answer, they were sold to pay for the lawsuits against the priest of the disocese of Gary. This was a historic part of the Croatian church in Whiting. St Peter and Paul Church was an important part of your catholic religion. Adress the pedophiia in your church. Have you ever thoughtt of converting to the Greek Catholic Rite. Priests get married in the Greek Rite. My grandfather and great grandfather are Greek Catholics. Slovaks.

    How can you look in the mirror and listen to your Pope.

    S’bohom, not Benedict

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