Deal W. Hudson
February 15, 2010
I’ve been asked why I support the Reform CCHD Now petition requesting that the bishops suspend all Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grants until a thorough review of the program has been completed. A series of reports by Reform CCHD have revealed clear evidence that grants are being given to organizations supporting abortion and same-sex marriage.
Thus far, only two groups have been defunded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), though another offending organization, the Center for Community Change (CCC), was scrubbed from their Web site (the section removed described it as being worthy of Catholic support).
After the first reports were published, seven dioceses withdrew their participation from the annual November CCHD collection. That collection normally generates, on average, $7-9 million each year, which means the available pool of money over the last ten years was upwards of $90 million. We know that at least some groups working counter to Church teaching on life and marriage have enjoyed access to that funding: Reform CCHD Now asserts that at least 31 problematic organizations remain.
The petition, launched on Wednesday, was made necessary by the dismissive attitude of the USCCB toward the hard evidence linking CCHD grants to organizations supporting abortion and same-sex marriage. USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh admitted she had read only one of the two reports before she rejected their findings.
Furthermore, no subsequent comment by any bishop or USCCB official has addressed the substance of the findings. This is made all the more strange by the fact that the USCCB acted responsively after the first round of Reform CCHD Now reports last August, when they defunded two grantees.
Unfortunately, the USCCB quickly slammed the door shut on any further investigations. That didn’t stop the reform efforts, and the second round of research uncovered troubling new evidence while reconfirming the findings of the original reports.
Some have questioned the petition in light of a statement made by Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, in which he attests to the pro-life convictions of John Carr, executive director of the USCCB’s Office of Justice, Peace, and Human Development. But none of the reports contain anything about Carr’s personal convictions, only his associations.
The USCCB chose to address the portion of the reports having to do with Carr, responding to an allegation that nobody made. Thus, Father Pavone’s statement has no bearing on the Reform CCHD reports or their subsequent petition. No one is a greater defender of unborn life than Father Pavone, and no one doubts whether he would oppose the USCCB’s spending of Church money to support groups promoting abortion.
When the bishops’ conference attempted to reframe the reports’ findings around the pro-life convictions of Carr, it obscured the real issue. The discussion should be about the actions of the USCCB and the CCHD, not about the convictions of its personnel. These actions are primarily the grants that have been made for many years to groups subversive to Church teaching, but also the pattern of associations maintained by the CCHD in their efforts to address poverty.
Thus far, the research into the CCHD has uncovered enough questionable grantees in recent years to raise a red flag. As the research goes forward, more troubling evidence will very likely come to light. Why not simply step back from the grant-making, find out what went wrong, fix it, and get back to work? That’s all the petition asks, and I support it.