It is Time to Start Answering the Questions about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
By Matt Smith
On February 2, 2010 Catholic Advocate reported to our community about the latest research into grant recipients of the USCCB Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) program.
The issue we, along with others, are raising is simple. Money donated by an “official” entity of the Church should not be used to work against the teachings of the Church.
When will the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stop diverting attention from the issue and begin to answer the questions at hand?
As of February 2010, research conducted by American Life League (ALL) and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) has revealed USCCB CCHD money being granted to 18 organizations supporting pro-abortion and/or same-sex marriage policies and advocacy, and an additional 31 organizations that should be investigated. The organizations are separated into three sections: A) Groups Recently Defunded by CCHD; B) Groups Recommended for Defunding by CCHD; and C) Groups Recommended for Independent Investigation.
The Reform CCHD Now Coalition believes the evidence demonstrates the CCHD grant approval process is flawed and errantly diverting funds from its original intent to groups supporting policies in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Coalition has called for an independent review followed by reform, transparency, and improved stewardship of the money donated to the CCHD program.
Why should this matter to the faithful American Catholics in the pews on Sunday?
Catholic Advocate has been consistent with comments that the CCHD program is a well-intentioned effort in need of redirection. The CCHD grant program is funded by one of the thirteen “National Collections” facilitated each year by Dioceses for the USCCB. For some, it is an extra envelope in which to place a contribution, and in other parishes it might be the ushers passing around the baskets a second time.
CCHD donations range from $7 – $9 million each year which means, with 18,280 parishes in the U.S., the average parish contribution ranges from $382 – $492 each year.
The pro-abortion and same-sex marriage Chinese Progressive Association, one of only two organizations the USCCB has defunded, received a $25,000 grant in 2008 which amounts to the contributions of 65 parishes. Another organization, the Southwest Organizing Project in Illinois promotes abortifacient birth control and has yet to be investigated or defunded. They received $80,000 over the past two years which amounts to the contributions of 104 parishes.
The basic fact that ANY money is going to groups working against the teachings of the Church should be a source of concern. To date, solid evidence has shown $2,306,500 in grants has gone to groups advocating for issues contrary to the teachings of the Church. This represents the annual contributions of almost 6037 parishes – or nearly 1/3 of Catholic parishes in the United States.
Following ALL and BVM revealing information about the CCHD grant program, questions have been raised about participation by USCCB officials on the board of an organization where member groups received grants. This same umbrella group is involved with, among other activities, the America Votes project which is in clear violation of the USCCB’s own CCHD Policies.
Instead of answering the questions about their work on the board or knowledge of these groups and their activities, the USCCB staff and two bishops circled the wagons around one individual. They declared these questions were personal attacks and defended his support for Church teachings. No one, at any point, has questioned this individual’s dedication to the Church. In fact, ALL’s report goes out of its way to not question individual pro-life beliefs.
Additionally, it has been claimed the researchers should have met with USCCB staff to discuss their findings. Unfortunately, this is another falsehood, since meetings with members of the Reform CCHD Now coalition were either declined or canceled by USCCB staff.
In the course of defending their colleague against mythical personal attacks, the surrogates for these officials have now, in turn, done the very thing they condemned by attacking my colleague Deal Hudson. Nothing Deal Hudson has written attacked the convictions of USCCB staff. However, they have chosen to engage in a merciless attack of their own. I have known Deal Hudson for over 10 years. I have witnessed firsthand his strength as a husband and father. We are all human and make mistakes. He made one nearly 16 years ago, sought redemption, and I know the pain it caused is something he regrets. The USCCB surrogates are not attacking a side of a debate – they are attacking a family.
The surrogates, coming to the defense of the USCCB, have also labeled those raising these questions as “conservative,” “right-wing,” “Republican” Catholics. So, following the logic of these surrogates makes supporting the sanctity of life or working to preserve marriage as a union between one man and one woman (both non-negotiable teachings of the church) now something they are going to attempt to tag with political labels.
It is one thing to question the work of individuals or how an entity distributes funds, it is another to support surrogates making personal attacks. If the USCCB is truly non-partisan and believes both sides should be engaging in a civil debate on this issue, then they should immediately and publicly condemn these divisive political labels and the truly personal attacks on Deal Hudson.
What have we asked our bishops to consider?
- Suspend CCHD grants.
- Conduct an independent audit and review of all the organizations that have received CCHD grants during the past ten years to ensure programs, support for public policies, and affiliations are consistent with the teachings of the Church.
- Develop and publicly distribute new policy guidelines to Diocesan offices for the vetting and approval of CCHD grant proposals.
- Review the participation by USCCB staff in outside organizations and develop a conflict of interest policy that prevents such participation from supporting groups that work against the teachings of the Church.
Perpetuating perceived personal attacks and the five public attacks by USCCB surrogates against Deal Hudson are a distraction that needs to stop. It is time the USCCB and the CCHD start addressing the issues raised by ALL and BVM research. We should begin working together to prevent money donated by hard working Catholics to be used against teachings of the Church.