Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

a new campaign to reform the CCHD

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 30, 2009

A coalition of Catholic and pro-life groups-- including Human Life International, the American Life League, and the new Bellarmine Veritas Ministry-- has joined in a call for the American bishops to reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

The Bellarmine Veritas Ministry burst on the scene this year with a carefully researched critique of the CCHD, showing that the organization supports a number of groups whose purposes are at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church: groups that support legal abortion and same-sex marriage. Why, the group asked, does an arm of the Catholic bishops' conference make common cause with such groups?

It's a good question-- but not a new one. Thoughtful Catholics and conservative non-Catholics have been asking that question for at least two decades. In the 1980s I produced my own exposé on the many ties between the CCHD and radical activist groups. The individual groups supported by the CCHD may change, but the fundamental orientation does not.

Recently, however, things have heated up, with the revelation that the CCHD has supplied $7 million in subsidies to ACORN, the group that has been in the headlines so much this year, accused of voter fraud, massive misappropriation of public funds, and such grotesque improprieties as providing consulting help for people who said they wanted to set up a brothel. It's true that the CCHD cut off funding for ACORN last year, but again the question arises: Why was the bishops' agency involved with that group in the first place?

The CCHD is dedicated to helping poor people organize self-help efforts. There's nothing wrong with that goal in itself, but from its early days, the CCHD has been wont to politicize the process, forming alliances with leftist community organizers (such as, years ago, Barack Obama!) and often giving those organizers financial support.

There's something seriously wrong with this approach, I believe. Each November, as Catholics across the US are asked to contribute to the special collection for the CCHD, the promotional materials portray the CCHD as an anti-poverty program, not specifically as a community-organizing program. That fundraising approach is misleading, I submit, because the CCHD does not provide poor people with food and clothing, but with organizational support-- a worthy effort, perhaps, but a different one.

In any case the new "Reform the CCHD" coalition asks the bishops to insist that CCHD support should go only to groups whose purposes are fully compatible with Catholic social teaching. Absent that assurance, the coalition suggests that thoughtful Catholics refuse to contribute to this year's special collection, which will be taken up on November 22.

Better still, the coalition has prepared a coupon that you can download, print out, and drop into the collection basket, announcing that you have chosen not to support the CCHD, but instead to support a worthy charity whose work is "fully in agreement with Church teaching on social justice and family and life issues."  You might choose an organization that actually supplies food, clothing, or shelter for those in need. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Nov. 16, 2009 7:19 PM ET USA

    Please also see Richard Viguerie's letter and petition against CCHD at

  • Posted by: impossible - Nov. 05, 2009 8:53 PM ET USA

    Arguably, the best way to support worthy charity whose work is, "fully in agreemtn with Church teaching" is to simply disband CCHD and have a special collection in each diocese to support CATHOLIC charitable groups that actually help to feed, clothe and shelter the poor. Community organizers are generally leftist in nature and it is contrary to my conscience to donate money that will support such groups.

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Nov. 05, 2009 10:45 AM ET USA

    I ignore whatever comes from the USCCB as a body since anything useful there is usually better stated by Vatican documents. I do contribute to worthy charities pushed by our bishops such as mission, the Church in Eastern Europe, etc. I don't contribute to CCHD.

  • Posted by: 1russellclan9303 - Nov. 05, 2009 1:26 AM ET USA

    I agree that the leadership has been/is shoddy. But we have to start somewhere to let them know we are 'on to' their tactics. This seems like a good point to start, although I'm unsure if my pastor will forward the coupon on to the diocese, so I will probably send one myself to the bishop just to make sure he knows 'not all is well'.

  • Posted by: mrschips19308196 - Nov. 04, 2009 9:56 PM ET USA

    I agree with the last commentator, especially about Catholic schools.Catholic Charities helps many people in our community already. What Catholic Development could be more important than that of our children.....when it has been pointed out how ignorant of their faith so many Catholics are today. I say let's hear it for GOOD Catholic schools. I have felt this for years,especially when seeing families with several children unable to procure a Catholic education for them.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Nov. 04, 2009 8:30 PM ET USA

    I have always thought that there needed to be more transparency regarding where the money goes in the Church. Salaries of Church employees need to be posted for all to see in every diocese and for every non-profit group under the umbrella of the Church. I think the people in the pews would be shocked to death to find out how much all the Do Gooders in the Church get paid, especially since they job out the work of helping the poor to others like ACORN.

  • Posted by: frankg - Nov. 04, 2009 12:56 PM ET USA

    A good idea but I think that the entire USCCB should be disbanded and reinvented as something other then the "ecclesial mouth piece" of the DNC. I have deliberately avoided supporting the programs of the USCCB with the exception of Catholic Relief Services CRS and I keep a very close eye on them.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Nov. 04, 2009 11:26 AM ET USA

    The Bishops themselves need to be "reformed..." Bishop Chaput CLEARLY ADMITS that "unrestricted health-care" which he, speaking for the other Bishops defines as a "right" was on the Bishop's "agenda list" for decades... First, Bishops should NOT be entangled in civil politics... Second, they scandalously drageed their feet on their abortion issue... And third, now Chaput talks to Obama like he was a "trustworthy Roman Catholic" that "he must keep his promises..." Horrific leadership.

  • Posted by: mumof5 - Nov. 04, 2009 8:29 AM ET USA

    Pass around the Catholic Media Coalition YouTube video. It explains in two minutes the problems with CCHD.

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 04, 2009 5:24 AM ET USA

    When the bishops allowed CCHD to conduct diocesan collections, they vouched for the projects that were being funded. Now that the truth about those projects is out, the bishops already tattered credibility has taken another major blow. The bishops need to level with the faithful, and tell them what went wrong with with the vetting of CCHD, and what they are doing to correct the problem. Absent such candor, the problem will remain the bishops' credibility and stewardship, not CCHD.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 04, 2009 12:53 AM ET USA

    American Life League provided coupons for the CCHD collection, but theirs calls for shutting down the CCHD. I agree with ALL! I think ample evidence of misappropriation and poor stewardship over the course of 20 years exists to conclude that no reform is possible/probable. We can put the money to better use locally.

  • Posted by: mwquacker4169 - Nov. 02, 2009 11:24 AM ET USA

    It is now time for all faithful Catholics to stop sitting on their hands and allowing the "progressives" to run us over. Do a little research & find out if there is a local "community organization" to which your parish belongs & if there is any connection to the Gamaliel Foundation or the Industrial Areas Foundation. Make some fliers, educate your fellow parishioners and get ACTIVE! Above all PRAY for Our Lady's protection against this insidious invasion of the Body of Christ. God help us all!

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Oct. 31, 2009 6:54 PM ET USA

    You have got to be kidding me! Catholic schools around the country suffer and close because there are insufficient resources to support our children. ...and the Catholic Bishops give $7M alone to Acorn. That's just to Acorn where's the rest of the money going? Not only frustrating, our Faith has to be tested from within the very shelter created to support and guide us to eternal salvation. Stop the insanity Bishops. Please, stand up for Jesus and his children.