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Critics Call for Defunding the Catholic Campaign for Human Development

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The CCHD is under heavy fire due to serious breaches of their funding guidelines. For many concerned Catholics, the only solution is to pull the plug.


By Randy Sly
Catholic Online (
9/24/2009 (1 decade ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - A cry is coming from Catholics across the country to defund the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the social justice arm for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The annual campaign for funding by Catholic parishes, held each November, may be in serious jeopardy based on new revelations concerning the group's actions.

The outcry is based on a recent report on funding practices by the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM). BVM, who describe themselves as "a Catholic grass-roots organizing ministry dedicated to truth and action," dove deeper into CCHD practices and launched a national campaign aimed at addressing deeper problems within the organization.

They had found that some of the grantees were groups who supported abortion, contraception, same-sex "marriage," and legalized prostitution. The report also revealed that these groups are involved in pushing Obama's health care reform without prejudice to its proposed funding of abortion and contraception.

Some of those on the list that support these and other non-Catholic positions include:
- The Chinese Progressive Association -- CPA
- Los Angeles Community Network -- LA CAN
- The Women's Community Revitalization Project
- Young Workers United YWU

CCHD first came under serious scrutiny last year for their contributions to the scandal-ridden group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Last June, they reported that the funding of grants to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) groups has been cut off "because of questions that arose about financial management, fiscal transparency and organizational accountability of the national ACORN structures."

Bishop Roger Morin, who serves as Chairman for the Subcommittee of the CCHD, responded clearly to the issue and assured U.S. Catholics that the funds had been cut off and that the ACORN issue was being thoroughly and aggressively investigated.

The bishop also reiterated the commitment of the CCHD that "CCHD's current criteria and guidelines prohibit partisan activity and funding of any group that engages in activities contrary to Catholic moral teaching, whether or not those activities are funded by CCHD.

"These criteria are actively enforced and have led CCHD to deny funding to many groups and to quickly terminate any group that violates these prohibitions. The Bishops' CCHD Subcommittee and staff are reviewing these existing CCHD's policies, grant agreements, and other safeguards in order to reaffirm and strengthen our protections in areas of Church teaching, financial and organizational accountability, and partisan political activity."

On September 10th, LifeSite News (LSN) informed Ralph McCloud, Director of the CCHD, of the new report from BVM. The following day McCloud notified LSN that they had defunded two of the four groups, and said that, in regard to the remaining two, he was still waiting to hear back from the local bishop, who must sign off on every funded group in his diocese.

The BVM founder, Rob Gasper, told LSN, "My organization's pleased that they're taking some active steps, obviously."

He added, "We're still concerned about how these groups managed to receive funding in the first place. We would like to see some steps taken to ensure that that doesn't happen again in the future."

Deal Hudson, from, wrote on his site, "I think BVM should go further and ask for the elimination of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. No amount of house-cleaning is going to make this arm of the USCCB worthy of our donations."

This is not the first call for elimination. In the midst of the ACORN scandal last year, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus shared his concerns publically stating that the CCHD "has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it."

According to LifeSite News, Neuhaus called the organization "misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice," and went so far as to urge that it be terminated. "What most Catholics don't know, and what would likely astonish them," wrote Fr. Neuhaus, "is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor." Neuhaus suggested that the bishops would do better to spend their money on more Catholic-related projects, such as "Catholic inner-city schools."

From the reader comments posted at LSN,, Catholic Online and other sites, Catholics across the nation are of a similar mind and would like to see the CCHD defunded.

Founded forty years ago, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development was called the Church's domestic anti-poverty program. According to the CCHD website, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB, now USCCB) wanted to raise funds for two purposes:
* To support "organized groups of white and minority poor to develop economic strength and political power."
* To educate the People of God to a new knowledge of today's problems . . . that can lead to some new approaches that promote a greater sense of solidarity.

Their goal was to educate and empower the poor in order to participate in the decisions and actions that would affect their lives and move beyond poverty.

The CCHD distributes over 300 grants nationally along with additional smaller projects through their diocesan agencies that retain 25 percent of the collection. According to CCHD guidelines, no funding is allowed for partisan activities or any group engaging in activities contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding funding oversight, the CCHD website states, "Diocesan bishops, with whom we collaborate regularly, appoint directors to manage the full range of CCHD's activities at the local level.

"These responsibilities include reviewing and evaluating national and local funding applications, monitoring funded programs, supporting seedling organizations, providing educational resources, and promoting the diocesan fund-raising campaign to support the annual collection. CCHD continues a tradition of strong local-national collaboration.

"Eighty-nine cents out of every dollar received by CCHD goes directly to community empowerment, economic development, and education programs that work to break the cycle of poverty."

Ultimately, the local bishop must sign off on any project approved in his geographic area.

Those who have been following CCHD's funding history are wondering how the abovementioned groups and perhaps others have managed to make it through the approval process.

Obviously, the concerned Catholics will continue to carefully follow this story, especially with the November offering just around the corner.


Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.


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