your collection plate dollars at work

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 22, 2006

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development claims to have provided more than $280 million in grants, over the 35 years of its existence, to sponsor projects such as Poverty Awareness Month. It recently announced the results of its Poverty Pulse survey:

WASHINGTON (January 19, 2006) Nearly two-thirds of Americans -- 65 percent -- fear that poverty will increase in the United States in 2006 while seven in 10 (71 percent) believe there are more poor people today than a year ago and 63 percent worry that they could themselves become poor, according to the latest Poverty Pulse survey by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

I don't get it. What's the point -- given the USCCB's responsibilities -- of gauging the man in the street's fears about poverty? Who benefits? What action are we, or the bishops, supposed to take as a result? We're not told whether the poll respondents were given a working definition of poverty (e.g., a certain family income level) on which to base their replies, or whether "poverty" was just a bogey-word, left for the respondent to interpret on his own. The fact that 63 percent of the respondents "worry that they could themselves become poor" indicates a pretty elastic understanding of poverty (and of worry, for that matter).

Unlike Salvadoran or Sudanese poverty, American poverty is overwhelmingly a consequence of family pathology. If your mother's boyfriend is not your father, chances are you're poor. Catholic moral teaching, applied with any pastoral canniness, is an antidote to this disease, yet it seldom rates a mention by the CCHD. The monies paid to conduct the survey neither fed the hungry nor instructed them, but provided more footnote fodder, I suppose, for policy statements. As with everything it touches, it's hard to shake the suspicion that the CCHD's concern here is less for poor folks than for politics.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 27, 2006 3:32 PM ET USA

    Thank you, verum res! I will be more careful with my donations.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 25, 2006 4:32 PM ET USA

    Be careful. Both CRS and the CMMB (but the CMMB especially) are in bed with the population controllers. Sure, the CMMB will say that they don't support contraception and abortion, but they are in partnership on various projects with agencies who do.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 24, 2006 9:09 AM ET USA

    Exactly. I gladly donate to Catholic Relief Services, St Vincent DePaul, and the Catholic Medical Mission Board because I know my money will go directly to those in need. I've read some things about the Campaign for Human Development, enough to make me uncomfortable.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jan. 23, 2006 2:13 PM ET USA

    Linus, I agree that the Sally does great work and also give them some cash each year. But there are worthy Catholic organizations as well. Such as parish (and sometimes county) -level St. Vincent de Pauls and, perhaps above all, the Missionaries of Charity, who still follow their foundress, Mother Theresa's, rule and don't ask for money. They count on us to remember. (Actually, they count on God. He counts on us.)

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Jan. 23, 2006 8:33 AM ET USA

    Diogenes, you missed the silver lining in this cloud. If poverty has or does increase, then the CCHD's programs have failed. If they have failed, we should be directing our contributions to programs that are succeeding and stop throwing good money after bad.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 23, 2006 6:51 AM ET USA

    I simply make a comparable donation to the Salvation Army in honor of the CCHD and the looniness is eliminated. A great example of "reconciled diversity" if there ever was one.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 22, 2006 11:10 PM ET USA

    When I encounter "march for hunger" fluff I invariably remember what a physician friend of mine (chief of anesthesiology at a major metropolitan hospital) told me once. "In my forty years of practice I have never encountered a case of malnutrition,except it was the result of substance abuse." He clarified that the substance abuse could be on the part of the parent/guardian of the hungry one. In this compact statement he spoke volumes about the sentimentality and cynicism of liberal politics.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 22, 2006 10:08 PM ET USA

    The USCCB sounds more and more like an organ of the Democrat Party. They will do nothing to offend them; including letting the enablers of abortion go to Holy Communion. Maybe Kennedy, Durbin, Biden, Mikulski, Leahy, Kerry would be upset!