Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catholic Campaign for Human Development and ACORN discussed at USCCB General Assembly

In the last few months of the national election, the group ACORN came under fire for voter registration fraud and partisanship. The group, which is suppose to be non-profit and non-partisan, yet publicly backed the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama.

As the dust-storm churned up sand, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) wound up in the vortex. Soon after it was revealed that funds have been funneled from the CCHD to ACORN for decades, it was learned that no funds were given to ACORN in 2008 after an embezzlement case surfaced from 8 years prior.

This topic was addressed at the USCCB's General Assembly currently taking place in Baltimore by Bishop Robert Morin. I taped the public discussion which EWTN aired live this afternoon and watched it a few minutes ago.

A primary beef some bishops and priests have with the CCHD is summed up perfectly by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things Magazine:

Which brings me, finally, to another and related matter that will surely be discussed in Baltimore and deserves to be on the agenda. The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.
Some of that, and then some, was echoed by three bishops who raised questions or offered comments at the end of the address by Bishop Morin.

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz asked pointedly whether funds are given to Catholic organizations or not. The answer was that they don't necessarily have to be Catholic.

It would be interesting to see some percentages and to get an understanding of what kinds of organizations are on the receiving end of funds. Do those organizations support the Catholic mission it's entirety, or just certain convenient parts?

Next up was Bishop Naumann, currently the administrator of the Diocese of St. Louis now that Abp Raymond L. Burke has moved on to the Vatican to head up the Church's equivalent of the Supreme Court. Bishop Naumann pointed out that in his diocese ACORN's partisanship was well known for at least 10 years. He called for an indepth evaluation of CCHD.

Consider that when we say that ACORN is involved with partisan politics we are talking about their backing of Democratic candidates, most of whom support legislation that counters Church teaching, such as with abortion, embyronic stem cell research and more. The Democratic Party has been dubbed the "Abortion Party" and the "Party of Death". Is it any wonder why some priests and bishops would not want to send funds to CCHD, given it's support for such organizations?

Last up was Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan. He raised an interesting question that for lack of memory, I have to put in my own words. He wanted to know why the CCHD wouldn't provide support for married couples and families. [edit: bad wording because I believe the bishop was trying to understand if funds were going to activities that we would consider anti-family and anti-marriage). In other words, what His Excellency was trying to get at is whether we are simply aiding people in living lifestyles that are not conducive to marriage and family.

I suspect CCHD's funds are going to be drastically lower this year in light of what has come out and this will force a closer look at how the organization is structured, how it functions, and to whom those funds are going.

EDIT Nov 14: I heard Raymond Arroyo on Ave Maria Radio in an interview with Teresa Tomeo say that some people are stuffing paper acorns into the envelopes and submitting them. Raymond said he couldn't tell people what to do, but that he personally was not going to give any money (or acorns) to CCHD, but instead add it into his Peter's Pence envelope.

Reflecting a little more on Bishop Boyea's point, it started to come clear. You have to wonder whether some of the organizations supported by CCHD are involved in things like handing out condoms or contraceptives, encouraging or supporting abortions, or homosexual lifestyles.

Bishop Morin was clear on tape that the forensic accounting taking place now will be looking at the money trail itself, not what kinds of activities within each individual organization are being funded. This to me is a big problem. The activities should be aligned with the mission of the Church and no money should be going to organizations that engage in activities contrary to it.

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