The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee which oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has defended the program against what he called “outrageous” allegations and claims. He reiterated that the campaign is pro-life and has “zero tolerance” for funding any group that violates Catholic teaching.
Bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi Roger Morin on Tuesday addressed the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the topic of the CCHD.
He said that some attacks on the campaign are motivated by concern for the poor or for the Church’s teachings. Some critics may not understand the social teachings of the church, while others charge that the bishops are funding groups that are pro-abortion.
“The critics are using this as an opportunity to attack the shepherds of the Church. I reiterate that we are pro-life, from conception to natural death,” Bishop Morin said.
The CCHD never makes grants to organizations that are specifically involved in promoting activities against Church teaching, he said.
“You will recall that CCHD was the first national group to cut funds for ACORN,” he added, referring to the community organizing group that was accused of voter fraud in 2008.
“We say at CCHD that we have zero tolerance for any group that would violate the Church teachings.”
The bishop said it was “particularly disturbing” that people form an opinion of CCHD based on an individual incident of misconduct.
“They paint the whole organization with a broad brush using isolated instances.”
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Bishop Morin continued his defense of the campaign. He said he wished there were not any scandals “and I wish that if there were any criticisms, that they were factual.”
He reported that he has not sensed an erosion of support for the campaign from the bishops. He also accused critics of being “constantly in operation.”
In November the CCHD issued a document “For the Record – The Truth about CCHD Funding” to respond to various charges and criticisms.
In that document, the CCHD said it “fully upholds” Church teaching on the sanctity of life.
“The Campaign funds projects that empower the poor and help them organize themselves to move out of poverty. All grant applicants are carefully screened and funds are provided only to projects with objectives and actions that are fully in accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Funding criteria, including conformity with the moral guidelines of the Catholic Church, are specified from the earliest stage of the application process, the CCHD commented. Projects are monitored through regular reporting and on-site visits and funding is discontinued if inconsistencies with Catholic teaching are discovered.
The Campaign noted Pope John Paul II’s praise for the CCHD, which says one of its goals has been to help poor people achieve self-sufficiency.
The CCHD document noted the allegation that its grants funded Young Workers United and the Chinese Progressive Association, who both produced voter guides that took a position contrary to Church teaching. Both groups backed same-sex “marriage” and Young Workers United reportedly also voiced support for legalized abortion and legalized prostitution.
After a joint investigation with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the CCHD said it immediately canceled both grants and both organizations returned the grant money.
The CCHD said investigation was continuing into the Prebel Street group and the Women’s Community Revitalization Project, which allegedly were involved in activity contrary to Church teaching.
The CCHD said that investigations into several other accused groups found no activity contrary to Church teaching.
The Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), which was accused of promoting same-sex “marriage” and actively supporting contraception and the morning-after pill, was cleared by a review conducted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the CCHD reported.
Addressing the charges against the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) coalition in California, the CCHD said six of the seven coalition members are currently funded by the CCHD and all six confirmed that they were never consulted about MIV taking positions on ballot initiatives contrary to Catholic social teaching.