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Liberal priests oppose CCHD reform efforts in Chicago (Exclusive)

Catholic World News - November 05, 2010

Even as lay Catholic activists have renewed their criticism of ties between the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and radical activist groups (see today’s separate CWN story), liberal priests in the Chicago archdiocese are urging Cardinal Francis George to roll back reforms of the local CCHD effort.

Last year, prompted by heavy criticism of the CCHD, archdiocesan officials in Chicago took extra steps to ensure that grants would not be directed toward organizations that promote abortion, same-sex unions, and other causes at odds with Catholic moral principles. The Chicago archdiocese also decided to send only 50% of the funds from local collections—as opposed to 75% in previous years—to the national CCHD campaign. The Chicago office used the extra funds to support efforts at strengthening family life, arguing that this is most effective (and distinctively Catholic) long-term response to poverty.

But a group of Chicago priests, led by Father Larry Dowling of St. Agatha’s parish, is circulating a petition to Cardinal George protesting these reforms. The priests’ letter charges that the changes in the Chicago CCHD effort have “done great damage in a number of ways.” The priests aim their criticism at new leadership of the Chicago CCHD effort and at Nicholas Lund-Molfese, the director of the archdiocesan office of peace and justice.

The priests’ letter expresses resentment that CCHD grant applications in the Chicago archdiocese are being vetted by a selection committee “including lay people who openly described CCHD as defective and ‘needing fixing.’” They argue that it is insulting for grant applications to be asked whether their organizations are involved in advocacy for abortion or same-sex marriage.

In an odd twist of logic, the liberal priests complain that by holding back some of the funds that were previously sent to the national CCHD office, the new Chicago policy is hurting local groups, “as many local organizations have been funded by national CCHD monies.” Their protest questions whether the reform measures adopted by the Chicago archdiocese constitute an effort to curb Church funding of community organizers. Rejecting the claim that the CCHD was in need of reform, the priests attack the motivations of lay Catholic critics, claiming:

A great amount of criticism and false information about CCHD has been disseminated by those who oppose the Church’s promotion of empowering the poor. The current direction of CCHD seems not only to placate these critics but also to directly involve opponents of the CCHD in the selection process.

Father Larry Dowling, the main force behind the Chicago priests’ petition, is himself a community activist of some note. He is the chairman of the Illinois Center for violence prevention, a group that includes Planned Parenthood in its “after-school alliance” and has links to groups that promote legal abortion and gay rights. He is also the president of the board of Arise Chicago, a group that, during last year’s debate in Washington on federal health-care legislation, wrote a letter to Congressmen protesting measures that would “impose dangerous new restrictions on women’s reproductive health care.”

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 26, 2010 4:24 PM ET USA

    Sorry. You can put all the lipstick you want on the pig name CCHD, and I still know what it is. I will not give to support it. There are plenty of charities out there not under USCCB control that do the job they were intended to do. Close CCHD down forever.

  • Posted by: jimtotter - Nov. 08, 2010 2:46 PM ET USA

    I believe Fr. Dowling, et al, would benefit from reading Canons 273-289 of the Code of Canon Law.

  • Posted by: Dan - Nov. 08, 2010 8:18 AM ET USA

    I suppose it should come as no surprise that a group of priests who could rationalize the pollution of their faith and the disfigurement of their ministry by their nakedly Marxist politics now accuse the solidly leftist USCCB of insufficient commitment to their ideology. First the sex scandal, now the Obama presidency has exposed those who place politics before the Faith. Does the Church have the courage to confront the disease from within?

  • Posted by: jflare293129 - Nov. 06, 2010 6:01 AM ET USA

    Methinks Card George ought to politely offer Fr Dowling this offer: 1. Withdraw his petition and repent. OR 2. Withdraw from ministry within the Catholic Church.

  • Posted by: impossible - Nov. 05, 2010 6:42 PM ET USA

    The USCCB has long been controlled by left-wing Bishops and staff bent on promoting their own brand of politics and "social justice." CCHD funds left wing activists that must surely make George Soros proud. It doesn't help the poor as much as it promotes the hate and envy tactics of liberal politicians. The USCCB has for way too long been controlled by left-wing Bishops who place advancement of their brand of politics ahead of teaching the deposit of faith. The USCCB should be disbanded.

  • Posted by: doceo4186 - Nov. 05, 2010 6:38 PM ET USA

    Why is it so difficult to defund/remove Fr. Dowling? The evidence is right there for all to see.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Nov. 05, 2010 6:20 PM ET USA

    Where is the bishop and the church hierarchy when priests are supporting anti- Catholic beliefs?

  • Posted by: Hal - Nov. 05, 2010 4:40 PM ET USA

    I tell you what else hacks me off- how successful these protestant Catholics are in their casual use of class warfare language. CCHD Reform hurts "the poor" whom only they, with their heterodoxy, are capable of serving. Phooey!

  • Posted by: Hal - Nov. 05, 2010 4:38 PM ET USA

    What in the name of all that's holy is wrong with the Archdiocese of Chicago? And how did it get that way?

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