Catholics, would you donate money to an “American Independence Day” collection that operated out of China? How an anti-drug abuse campaign that gave money to marijuana growers and the makers of Valium and Xanax? Perhaps you’d be willing to support a fitness initiative that donated their extra proceeds to TV ads for deep fried Twinkies? If the answer to any of these questions is “NO”, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider donating to the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) this year. Catholic Citizens of Illinois announced this week that it is one such major Catholic organization calling on all Chicago area Catholics to boycott the CCHD, and perhaps it’s time the rest of us sat up and took notice.
The CCHD receives little notice from the average lay Catholic, except perhaps this one time of year. Many Chicago area dioceses pass around an extra collection basket for the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) the weekend before Thanksgiving. The CCHD collection is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and marketing to Catholics in the pews this coming weekend as a extra way to assist the poor and needy this time of year, helping to reduce poverty. It all sound fine and dandy on paper. What good Catholic could be against that?
Unfortunately, it seems the CCHD does the exact opposite of what they market themselves as. Not only is money they receive NOT used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick and suffering — but direct service organizations like soup kitchens and homeless shelters are specifically excluded from CCHD donations. Indeed, a recent study found that the CCHD forbids grants to organizations that directly serve the poor, and funds almost no Catholic organizations. In short, the “Catholic Campaign for Human Development” is a ‘catholic campaign’ in name only.
So what does the CCHD do with the millions of dollars it receives each Thanksgiving? Controversy has raged among Catholics because nearly 50% of the grants the organization has awarded in the past have gone to Alinsky-style “community organizing groups”, many of which violate Catholic teaching and support intrinsic evils. Groups that promote abortion, free contraceptives, and homosexual activism – including same-sex marriage – have all benefitted from the CCHD collection in the past, as well as groups that work indirectly to elect so-called “progressive politicians“ who support these evils. The CCHD even awarded a grand total of $7.3 million to ACORN prior to 2008, when Obama’s election to the Presidency and heightened public awareness about ACORN’s controversial activities forced the CCHD to drop them from the donor list.
Various watchdog groups say the controversies are far from over. This year, a coalition of 24 pro-life and Catholic organizations have analyzed the CCHD’s grants from 2009-2012, and concluded that the U.S. Bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm “still needs major reforms before Catholics can safely donate”. The ALL Report found that 18 local groups that do not adhere to Catholic beliefs received $735,000 from the 2011-2012 CCHD “pie.” For example, the “Interfaith Worker Justice and Jobs” organization was one such benefactor, and the ALL Report demonstrates that Interfaith Worker Justice and Jobs have fundamental perspectives that gravely differ from Catholic teaching – and they act on those perspectives, such as pushing for national legislation for same-sex “marriage” and abortion, among other things. In 2009, Jobs with Justice joined Planned Parenthood and NOW in a national campaign to force the drugstore chain CVS to “Stop Locking up Condoms,” that is, to make them more readily accessible. Its Workers Rights Board includes Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). JwJ project, “Students Labor Action Project,” works closely with the Young Democratic Socialists and The Young Communist League – both adamantly pro-abortion “rights” and same-sex “marriage.”
Another controversial fund was to the Gamaliel Foundation. The Gamaliel Foundation is a founding member of the Steering Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), which in 2010 made an official position statement that homosexual relationships should be recognized as “families” in immigration reform. In March 2010, FIRM called for “LGBT inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform They are a national community organizing network that received $799,500 in CCHD grants last year through 21 local affiliates, such as JONAH in Lacrosse, Wisconsin and MOSES in Detroit, Michigan. Gamaliel is also a dues-paying member of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Gamaliel’s president, Ana Garcia-Ashley, also sits on the board for NCRP. According to RCN’s report, NCRP actively promotes abortion and same-sex marriage, and encourages philanthropic organizations to give grants to such organizations.
Earlier this week, Reform CCHD Now asked three other community organizing groups in Philadelphia to return their grants, claiming they had lied on the grant application by stating they did not promote activities contrary to Catholic moral teaching. RCN researchers found that the Childspace Management Group had signed a public letter denouncing cuts to birth control programs, JUNTOS had produced an immigrant reference guide providing information on where to obtain contraceptive services (including local Planned Parenthood offices), and the Women’s Community Revitalization Project is intimately connected to the radically pro-abortion group Women’s Way and its executive director is a homosexual activist. None of these three groups have returned CCHD funds, despite using the money for purposes explicitly against Catholic teaching.
It comes as little surprise that with all these problems occurring with the CCHD, Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a member of the Catholic Media Coalition, joined the Coalition in support of a boycott of the CCHD this week. They wrote on their website “We urge our members to withhold their contributions to the CCHD and give directly to an organization that works directly to provide for the needs of the poor. With the appointment of a new director for the office of Peace, Justice, and Human Development for the USCCB, we are optimistic the there will be a new direction for the CCHD in the future.”
Sadly, there is little evidence that anything has changed to date. Fully thirty to fifty percent of CCHD grant money goes to Alinskyian community organizing groups affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, PICO, and other groups that promote and advance “liberation theology”, use morally questionable tactics of confrontation, and demonstrate little success in alleviating the problems of the poor. (If anything, the number of Chicagoans in poverty and needing assistance has skyrocketed in recent years) Despite regular claims from the CCHD to the contrary, year after year it has repeatedly been demonstrated CCHD funds routinely go to organizations that promote abortion, birth control, homosexuality and even Marxism. There is simply no reason for faithful church-going Catholics to risk giving their money away that could end up in the hands of an organization that promotes such causes. If you are against these socially liberal causes, you need to stop donations to the CCHD immediately.
Of course, this is the perfect time of year for reaching out to help those struggling. Catholic Media Coalition has urged Chicago area Catholics to redirect their charitable giving to groups that truly assist the poor. Examples include organizations like the Missionaries of Charity and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Even organizations that sound “liberal” on paper, such as Woman’s Choice Services, are wonderful pro-life centers dedicating to helping women with unplanned pregnancies. There are also many local homeless shelters and soap kitchens in the Chicago that you can help out directly, instead of risking your funds with a shady middle man like the CCHD.
In the meantime, let us pray that our Catholic bishops come to their senses and drop their support of the disturbingly un-Catholic record of this “Catholic” Campaign. When they bring around an extra collection basket at your parish before Thanksgiving to donate to the CCHD, try dropping an acorn in the basket instead. After all – any organization that funded ACORN must be nuts!