Why the call for a National Collection for Life?
A member of the Catholic Advocate community asked “why the call for a National Collection for Life?”
Catholic Advocate has raised questions in recent weeks regarding grants made to non-Catholic organizations from the proceeds of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) national collection held the weekend before Thanksgiving each year. As Catholic Advocate Vice President Matt Smith wrote on February 19, “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.”
The goal of the CCHD collection is to support anti-poverty programs. The research done by other organizations has demonstrated grants have been distributed to some organizations advocating for public policy or supporting initiatives that contradict non-negotiable Church priorities.
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.
As of the announcement of the National Collection for Life, neither the Bishops nor their lay staff have responded to our questions. Some defenders of the CCHD program have chosen to level personal attacks because we are speaking out on these issues with the program. We promise the Catholic Advocate community to remain in optimistic prayer they will work with us to reform the CCHD program and return it to funding programs to assist the poor instead of non-Catholic groups supporting same-sex marriage and abortion-related policies.
A simple revelation – a National Collection for Life
The leadership of Catholic Advocate, in the process of examining the source of CCHD funding from the annual national collection program, noticed something obvious in the list of national collections – the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops DID NOT have a National Collection for Life.
The leadership of Catholic Advocate felt it was important to also focus on having a beneficial impact on building a culture of life in our society. Yes, it is important to reform the CCHD program to prevent pro-abortion groups from receiving Catholic donations. It is equally important to also seek support for the positive efforts our Bishops undertake with their pro-life activities.
Why support the bishops’ pro-life activities?
“The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, under the guidance and direction of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, works to teach respect for all human life from conception to natural death, and organize for its protection. The Secretariat is involved with positive educational campaigns and advocacy we as Catholics can support.”
Some of their programs include:
- Develop educational material on pro-life issues
- Conduct educational campaigns in the Church – e.g.,
- Respect Life Program that begins on the first Sunday of each October
- Conduct educational campaigns in the public square – radio, print, exhibit
- Circulate fact sheets and other information on critical issues
- Publish Life Issues Forum, a biweekly column for Catholic newspapers
- Publish Life Insight newsletter
- Encourage and enable programs to meet the needs of pregnant women, children, persons with disabilities, those who are sick or dying, and all who have been involved in abortion
- Provide dioceses with pro-life liturgical suggestions each month
- Coordinate/advise on public policy efforts concerning these issues
- Assist dioceses to implement major pro-life programs
Our Catholic values are under attack each and every day from outside and, tragically, sometimes within the Church. We must remain vigilant against the efforts to undermine and work equally hard to sustain the effective programs making a difference defending the sanctity of life.
We as Catholics have a responsibility to support programs and policies working to advance the mission of our Church.
Supporting a National Collection for Life sends a positive message to our bishops that we will pro-actively stand with them when we know our contributions will be used to further the cause for life.