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Coalition calls for reform of CCHD as annual collection nears
The CCHD poster for the 2009 collection
The CCHD poster for the 2009 collection

.- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is highlighting its projects as the annual CCHD collection approaches. One Catholic coalition, citing several controversial grants to groups which opposed Church teaching, has called for reform of the campaign.

CCHD funding in 2008 involved 776 Catholic parishes, 18 Catholic Charities agencies and 51 religious communities, a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) press release reports.

The CCHD said its programs empower “poor and marginalized people” to seek solutions to local problems and to improve their lives and neighborhoods. Its economic development initiatives include help for poor and low-income people to develop new business, to create new jobs and to develop family and community-owned assets.

The Campaign also educates Catholics about poverty and the faithful response to it. The CCHD also says it helps them interact with those affected by poverty.

CCHD-funded projects include the Savannah Local Food Collaborative in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia. The organization is working to relocate a local farmer’s market to increase community access to health local food, to strengthen the local economy and to move towards a sustainable environmental future.

McIntosh SEED, a community-based organization in the same diocese, is involved in creating a summer tutorial program that helped 200 students and their families improve their reading and math skills.

The Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network (MINF), involved in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota, is also funded by the CCHD. It engages immigrants and allies on immigration policy, and develops a broad leadership base to address the “broken” immigration system with a focus on immigrant youth, the USCCB reports.

Some CCHD grantees have been involved in controversy. 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 Campaign 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.

In response to the controversial grants, some Catholic groups have formed a coalition to “reform” the CCHD.

The Reform CCHD Now coalition includes Human Life International, the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, the American Life League and Catholic Radio International.

Though it says the CCHD has funded groups which “legitimately serve and represent the poor and marginalized,” the coalition protested its funding of groups that “openly oppose the Church’s teachings.”

“It is hard to believe repeated assurances that the CCHD always carefully vets its grantees given both its history and its continued funding of groups which openly oppose the Catholic Church's teachings on social justice, family and life issues. This must stop,” the coalition says on its website.

The coalition began a novena for reform on Nov. 14 that will end the day after the Nov. 21-22 collection takes place.


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