This year’s Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is intended to help struggling families in the midst of the national economic crisis, the U.S. bishops’ conference says.
The Collection, which has as its theme “Families are struggling. Faith is Calling,” will be held in most Catholic parishes the weekend of November 21-22, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.
The USCCB said that many face insecurity in employment, health care and retirement. The U.S. Census estimates there are 39.8 million people in poverty in the U.S., an increase of almost three million over the previous year.
Bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi Roger Morin, who chairs the USCCB Subcommittee on CCHD, described the purpose of the campaign’s “crucial” mission: “To uplift and embolden all who are one layoff or one medical scare away from the poverty line—and all who are already there.”
Bishop Morin has written a letter inviting parishes to be as generous as possible. Citing Lk. 4:18, he said Catholics are called “to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” This call is “more important than ever before,” he added.
The CCHD says it has embodied Catholic social teaching through its nearly 40 years of existence. In its mission to pursue justice and to uphold the dignity of the human person, the USCCB says, the CCHD has funded community groups that create affordable housing, obtain fair wages, provide job training, and organize communities to seek local solutions to improve their neighborhoods.
CCHD-supported groups include the Florida group Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST), a network of parishes and other congregations working on issues related to education, transportation and affordable housing.
The Chicago-based Progress Center for Independent Living reportedly empowers those with disabilities through mentoring, disability rights training, outreach, and community organizing and advocacy.
In Baltimore the United Workers Association (UWA) organizes low-wage workers to seek better wages and working conditions. According to the USCCB, the UWA’s campaign at Camden Yards Stadium resulted in a wage increase for cleaners from less than $4.50 per hour in 2003 to the state’s living wage of $11.30 per hour.
The Movimiento por Justicia en El Barrio, based in Harlem, New York City, works with over 400 mainly Mexican immigrant members to focus on tenant issues. It is also involved in negotiations with the Mexican Consulate to improve services for New York City’s Mexican immigrant population.
Some CCHD grantees have been controversial. In 2008 the USCCB defunded the community organizing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) following allegations that some of its members were involved in voter fraud.
The self-described Catholic grassroots group Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) also uncovered evidence that some CCHD grantees were involved in advocacy for abortion, contraceptive distribution, and same-sex “marriage.”
In September 2009 the CCHD announced that it had begun to defund at least two of the accused groups and said it was investigating other groups accused of advocating for positions and activities that contradicted Catholic teaching and CCHD grant regulations.