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Bishop denounces ‘outrageous claims’ of CCHD critics, says 3 grant recipients ‘in conflict with Catholic teaching’

November 19, 2009

Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, the chairman of the US bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), has denounced recent criticism of the controversial anti-poverty effort as “outrageous” in a November 17 report at the US bishops’ meeting in Baltimore. At the same time, he lent credence to some of the criticism by reporting that CCHD has rescinded three grants in the past year because the organizations receiving the grants acted “in conflict with Catholic teaching.”

Acknowledging that some critics “are motivated by a concern for the poor and a respect for the Church, seeking answers to legitimate questions about what, how, and why CCHD does what it does, and how it can be made better,” Bishop Morin said that “others may not understand or accept the Church’s social teaching on justice, a priority for the poor, or the need for institutional change.” He continued:

But a few with their own ideological or political agendas repeat and spread outrageous claims that the bishops are funding abortion, attacks on the family, and other untruths. For these groups, this seems to be just another way to attack the Church and its shepherds. The same critics constantly insist the bishops are unfaithful in our responsibilities and do not care about the unborn. I reiterate that we are absolutely pro-life from conception to natural death. We are pro-life and committed to support of life-- the full spectrum of life. CCHD’s work for life and dignity does not diminish, but advances our commitment to the sacredness of all human life.

In the midst of his comments on the CCHD critics, Bishop Morin acknowledged that some grant recipients acted in conflicted with Catholic teaching. Further lending credence to some of the criticism leveled at CCHD, Bishop Morin also revealed that the CCHD staff is undertaking the “key task” of “anchoring the ongoing work of CCHD in Catholic social teaching.”

[T]he Subcommittee pledges our ongoing efforts to ensure that all CCHD funds are used faithfully, effectively, and in accord with Catholic social and moral teaching … All CCHD grants are carefully reviewed at both national and diocesan levels, and every grant is specifically approved by the local diocesan bishop. No group that acts against Catholic social or moral teaching is eligible for CCHD funding. Where problems are discovered, we act swiftly and decisively. As you recall, CCHD was the first national organization to cut off all funding to ACORN when the national problems of fiscal accountability, organizational direction, and political partisanship became apparent, long before the federal government and other groups did the same. This will be the third consecutive CCHD collection where no ACORN group at any level will be considered for CCHD funding for any purpose.

If any CCHD-funded group violates the conditions of a grant and acts in conflict with Catholic teaching, CCHD funding is terminated in consultation with the local diocese. For example, in the last year, three groups out of 250 (between 1% and 2%) had CCHD funding ended for these reasons. One case is one too many, and we continue to strengthen CCHD’s review and monitoring processes. It is disturbing to be confronted by generalities that emanate from a single mistake-- we all know the hurt resulting from those who define a universe by going from the particular to the general …

The CCHD Subcommittee and our dedicated staff are undertaking several key tasks to build on and strengthen the great work of CCHD in communities across our nation: We are ROOTING CCHD clearly in the mission of Jesus Christ. We are anchoring the ongoing work of CCHD in Catholic social teaching. Our guidelines and criteria will express our principles in our language: the life and dignity of every person, the option for the poor, the principle of participation, solidarity, and subsidiarity … We are REVIEWING CCHD and its major elements to ensure they fully reflect our Catholic principles and our unique mission of helping poor people help themselves, and empowering them to improve their own communities.


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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: mikezart6808 - Nov. 21, 2009 8:35 AM ET USA

    I remember reading in the 1980's as reported by the Wanderer that Bishops were not looking into allegations of sexual scandals by some of their priests. I believe the response was pretty much the same...that those were outrageous allegations.

  • Posted by: tasha1996 - Nov. 20, 2009 9:33 AM ET USA

    Another observation: In the beginning of the CCHD collections, on two occasions, our diocese, therefore our church, used a slide show to present the needs of the poor with our Bishop speaking in the background. I thought to myself, how much money was really going to the poor if part of it was used to produce a show with large screen for the congregation to listen to during a homily. It smelled fishy!

  • Posted by: Ken - Nov. 20, 2009 12:13 AM ET USA

    The fact that a Roman Catholic bishop felt compelled to say: "I reiterate that we are absolutely pro-life from conception to natural death. We are pro-life and committed to support of life-- the full spectrum of life. CCHD’s work for life and dignity does not diminish, but advances our commitment to the sacredness of all human life," speaks VOLUMES about this issue. Not another dime until I am confident CCHD has completely cleaned up its act.

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 19, 2009 8:48 PM ET USA

    It sounds like Bishop Morin and the American Life League are talking about two different organizations. ALL's list of questionable organizations funded by CCHD is well documented. The Bishop's remarks are in the "trust me" category and don't address ALL's allegations. Given the USCCB's track record for candor, I'm withholding my donation to the special collection until Bishop Morin does a better job of detailing the problems that have occurred and the corrective action

  • Posted by: William F. Folger - Nov. 19, 2009 8:22 PM ET USA

    As founder of program to empower the poor (why not empower them?), I excluded Marxist class struggle tactics in the Founding Doc. FOR THE SAKE OF THE POOR in these times I shall hold back very little this time and give the Bishops one last chance to draw up statements WE SEE that organizations must agree to, to avoid so-called “misunderstandings”, and have teeth in that the org agrees IN WRITING to refund grants when they are shown to violate Catholic interests. It’s not rocket-science difficult

  • Posted by: - Nov. 19, 2009 8:15 PM ET USA

    When CCHD is supporting an ideology which is fundamentally pro-abortion and anti-Catholic, trying to keep "slip ups" like we've seen is both impossible and beside the point. It's beside the point because Catholic money for anything frees up money for more overt anti-Catholic actions.

  • Posted by: tasha1996 - Nov. 19, 2009 6:32 PM ET USA

    In the mid 90's Catholic World Report had an article on CCHD funding proabortion groups. I copied the article and sent it to my bishop. He or his secretary replied that his Cardinal approved of the CCHD disbursement. Since then I never gave a penny to CCHD. Months later another article appeared in the same magazine, the Catholic World Report, confirming the previous reporting.

  • Posted by: Hal - Nov. 19, 2009 9:36 AM ET USA

    I met Bishop Morin while he was in New Orleans. If you want a "cover up" style clerical bureaucrat, he's your man. He'd rather attack the messenger than shine the light of truth on his own committee. Feh.