CCHD clarifies connection to activist network that opposed Stupak Amendment

2 1 2010 Carr John Carr, Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Researchers examining the activities of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and its grantees have raised questions about its connections with a network of community organizing groups involved in homosexual issues and abortion advocacy, including opposition to the Stupak Amendment.

The Reform CCHD Now Coalition’s research was primarily conducted by the American Life League (ALL) and adds to the findings of the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM), a group which has examined CCHD-funded organizations involved in activities contradicting Catholic teaching.

One group that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has come under fire for supporting is the Center for Community Change (CCC), which was listed on the CCHD website as a group that Catholics could support to help low-income people build “effective organizations that can change their communities and public policies.”

The reference to the CCC was deleted from the CCHD website before noon Tuesday.

The CCC says it strengthens, connects, and mobilizes grassroots groups to increase their influence. According to Bellarmine Veritas, 31 CCHD grantees have been identified as CCC partners.

However, through its activism arm, Campaign for Community Change joined the Stop Stupak coalition. The coalition has opposed regulating health care legislation with the Stupak Amendment, which would restrict federal funding for most abortions.

Marvin Randolph, the CCC’s Director of Organizing and Politics, delivered remarks at a Dec. 2, 2009 Stop Stupak Coalition Day of Action on behalf of the Campaign for Community Change.

He accused “anti-choice activists” of working to restrict “women’s access to reproductive health care” by joining a “general campaign of hate and misinformation.” He said that health care reform should not come “at the cost of more restrictions on reproductive health.”

In a response to Our Sunday Visitor's editor John Norton, USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh replied that CCC has not received any funding from CCHD since 2001, when the Campaign gave the group $150,000.

The American Life League also charged that there was an overlap between the CCC leadership and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD) in the person of John Carr, JPHD’s executive director.

Carr has worked with the CCC at least as far back as 1983. He served on its board of directors from 1999 to 2005 and was on its executive committee from 1999 to 2001.

Although Carr currently oversees the CCHD, Sr. Walsh explained to Norton that in 2001, when the grant was given to CCC, Carr did not have jurisdiction over the Campaign.

After Carr left the CCC’s board of directors, Tom Chabolla, associate director of programs for the CCHD until 2008, joined the board.  This charge has not yet been addressed by the USCCB.

ALL’s lead researcher on the CCHD, Michael Hichborn, alleged that the reports show “full-blown Catholic cooperation with a pro-abortion and pro-homosexual organization at the highest levels of the CCHD.”

CNA sought comment from John Carr and CCHD head Ralph McCloud, but did not receive a reply after repeated attempts.

John Carr responded to the ALL report in Monday comments to OSV's John Norton. He said he had left the CCC board in February 2005 and had no involvement in or knowledge of the actions alleged by ALL or the BVM.

“My experience with CCC was that it focused on poverty, housing and immigration and had no involvement in issues involving abortion and homosexuality,” Carr told Norton.

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He said the board never acted on any position involving these matters and he would have “vigorously opposed” any advocacy if it had.

“I have spent my personal and professional life defending human life and dignity and Catholic teaching, including current efforts to keep abortion funding out of health care reform,” Carr added.

He said investigators’ failure to contact him or the CCHD led to the “unfair” allegations.

Responding to Carr’s comments on Tuesday, ALL said he had not addressed some of its points. ALL asked for explanations why over 50 CCHD-supported organizations are engaged in pro-homosexual causes “in some capacity” and why 31 CCHD grantees are partners with the CCC.

It also noted that Tom Chabolla, former associate director of programs for the CCHD, was on the CCC board when it was involved in such abortion and homosexual advocacy.

ALL asked why Carr’s USCCB bio omitted his involvement with the CCC. It also asked how he will address the CCC’s “ongoing problem” with funding pro-abortion and homosexual advocacy groups if he did not recognize the “direction” in which the CCC was headed.

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