By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
This weekend, Catholic churches throughout the nation will be conducting the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an organization that has been embroiled in controversy recently for funding political organizing groups such as ACORN.
Critics say the CCHD has little to do with funding the poor and invests most of its money in political organizing groups such as ACORN, which received $7.3 million of CCHD dollars since 1998. Although the CCHD cut off funding for ACORN last year, it still contributes to many other organizations that are closely affiliated to the group.
According to a report by Richard A. Viguerie appearing on the Christian News Wire, the Capital Research Center has found that CCHD money has funded the Industrial Areas Foundation (described by its founder as a “school for professional radicals”), the Midwest Academy (which trains in left-wing confrontation and intimidation), and other related organizations such as the Direct Action and Research Training Institute, People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO), and the Gamaliel Foundation.
”The network of organizations funded by CCHD is rooted not in the principles of Jesus Christ, who eschewed politics, but in the teachings of a Marxist and atheist, Saul Alinsky,” Viguerie writes.
As a result, a consortium of Catholic organizations have formed the Refom CCHD Now Coalition, which includes the American Life League, Human Life International, the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, Catholic Radio International, Real Catholic TV and the Catholic Media Coalition.
This coalition recently cited the CCHD for granting funds to groups such as the Chicago Workers Collaborative which is affiliated with the Marxist group, International Socialist Organization. It also gave $50,000 to Voces de la Frontera, which promoted a homosexual campaign called “Gay Neighbor.org” and another $40,000 to the Little Village Environmenteal Justice Organization which promotes birth control and the homosexual lifestyle in its newsletter to teens.
Even though CCHD director Ralph McCloud recently told the Catholic News Service that groups are vetted through a detailed approval process that involves local committees, diocesan directors and bishops before they endorse an organization, the Coalition says the system is not working.
“Given how easily we discovered CCHD funding going to anti-Catholic causes, the only two possibilities are that the CCHD is incompetent or complicit,” responded Michael Hichborn, American Life League’s lead researcher into CCHD funding. “We’re finding more and more evidence every day with far less information than the CCHD receives through its granting process.”
Not surprisingly, diocesan CCHD campaign directors see things differently, however.
In a recent letter from the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Peace and Justice, Ray Flores, Campaign Director for Chicago’s CCHD, described the organization as “the domestic social justice, antipoverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
Its goal is to break the cycle of poverty through empowerment initiatives and justice education, Flores writes, and says many of the charges against the CCHD are “erroneous” and “inflammatory.”
‘On November 21-22, the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development will take place in parishes across the Archdiocese of Chicago. The money collected during that weekend will go directly to funding projects in impoverished communities throughout the city. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we counter the lies being spread about CCHD.”
Many of these “lies” have been so well substantiated that even bishops, such as the Rev. Msgr. Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, are struggling with the decision about whether or not to conduct the collection this weekend.
In a letter to the priests of Arlington, Bishop Loverde admitted that he considered canceling the collection in light of criticism that the CCHD has funded groups that espouse causes such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
“After much research and consultation, I have decided to authorize the collection again this year,” Bishop Loverde wrote.
He went on to ask his priests to take up the collection “without any negative commentary.”
The collection for the CCHD typically takes place every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 22 this year.
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