Every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Catholics are asked to contribute to a special collection for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). This year, the CCHD collection will be taken up at the 22 November weekend Masses.The stated mission of CCHD is:
to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education.
As a Catholic, I am glad that there is a dedicated Church agency helping the poor in America, and on paper, CCHD appears to be a good cause; however, an article posted yesterday on EWTN.com citing Catholic editorialist Stephanie Block, reveals the alarming news that through CCHD, “millions of dollars have funded Alinksyite community organizing groups.” By reviewing the CCHD annual report and list of grantees, I found that in 2006 CCHD awarded 45 grants to ACORN chapters around the country, totaling $1,165,000. CHD’s grants for 2006 totaled $9,669,407, meaning that ACORN received 12 percent of the available funds, or based on CCHD’s annual operating cost of $13,106,628, ACORN received 9 cents out of every dollar placed in the collection basket.
The CCHD fulfills its mission through grants given to community organizations nationwide based on seven criteria: the activity “must conform to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church,” must work to eliminate “the root causes of poverty and enact institutional change,” and “must benefit people living in poverty.” “People living in poverty must have the dominant voice in the organization.” The organization “should demonstrate ongoing leadership development” and “a clear vision for development of financial capacity.” Finally the organization “must be fully nonpartisan when engaging in political activities.” (emphasis mine) Considering that the ACORN Votes Political Action Committee’s endorsement of pro-abortion Senator Barack Obama for President is displayed on ACORN’s website and as Block points out, “ACORN’s ‘People’s Platform’ has nothing in common with Catholic social justice teaching and everything in common with socialism,” ACORN should be precluded from CCHD funding on at least two counts. Because the annual special collection provides 88 percent of CCHD’s revenue, church-going Catholics can put a stop to the outrage. The non-ecclesiastical Catholic Weekly The Wanderer recommends for a Catholic:
to contact his or her bishop and inform him of the contents of [Block’s] editorial…[because] it is the solemn duty of a bishop to inform his flock about the serious discrepancy between the official image of CCHD as an instrument to help the poor and the unfortunate reality that, too often, CCHD funds are used to promote secularist and Marxist-inspired political activism.
On a personal level, one can also quietly refrain from contributing to the special collection, or reduce the donated amount by at least 9 percent. Certainly, all should pray that our Bishops will continue to fight poverty by supporting organizations that operate within the teachings of Jesus Christ.