Friday, June 14, 2013

The CCHD and the Big Bad Catholics: "Be Not Afraid"

If you’re on the more “conservative” or “traditional” side of the Catholic fence, you probably cringe at the mention of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The bishops have been taking up an annual collection for this group for decades, but in recent times, whistleblowers have pointed out that the CCHD has some strange bedfellows - partners whose aims or membership  runs counter to Catholic moral teaching.  The whole philosophy of the organization is suspect, being based on Alinsky-type community organizing (see ChurchMilitant.TV’s extensive investigation here). Some bishops have discontinued their support of the CCHD, while most others continue to take up the annual collection, even while parishioners protest in various ways and withhold their funds.

This year, the CCHD is lashing back at those they hold responsible for cutbacks in their budgets.  A report by an Illinois pro-life group notes:

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, known for funding organizations that support abortion, contraception, and attacks on the family, recently had a report issued on its behalf and signed by former CCHD staff members.

The report titled, “Be Not Afraid” claims that in order to continue the mission of social justice organizations that support the murder of babies in the womb, support contraception and the redefinition of marriage, they must and will continue to be given Catholic money.

I have taken a good look at the report itself, with the intent to read the entire thing. This is a difficult task because it is so…offensive. However, I think it gives a very telling look into the way the liberal modernist dissident mind works. I’ll give you a few excerpts and comments. All emphases are mine.

The report starts out with this observation:

Over the past four decades, conservative Catholic activists and their ideological allies on the political right have worked to undermine the U.S. Catholic bishops’ most successful antipoverty initiative — the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). In recent years, these efforts have grown more intense and effective. A small, but well-financed network has emerged as a relentless opponent of the bishops’ social justice Campaign, which has long been recognized as one of the most influential funders of grassroots community organizing. This year alone, CCHD is funding 214 organizations across the country with over $9 million in grants. Using guilt by association and other tactics from the McCarthy-era playbook, these activists are part of an increasingly aggressive movement of Catholic culture warriors who view themselves as fighting for a smaller, “purer” church.

Well! Of course! Let’s start out with some sweeping generalizations and assumptions of motive. Incidentally, the CCHD accuses those right-wing purist Catholics of doing the same thing to them.

And let's rethink that "community organizing" thing. Didn’t Saul Alinsky, the master of “community organizing”, have the destruction of the Catholic Church as one his goals? Didn’t he dedicate his handbook on community organizing (Rules for Radicals) to the devil? Here’s the statement I've seen quoted as coming from the book's dedication page:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer

Back to the report:

The stepped-up campaign against CCHD is draining resources from critical social justice advocacy at a time when more than 1 in 5 children live in poverty and income inequality is the most severe it has been since the 1920s. An equally troubling impact is the potential chilling effect on the church’s involvement with diverse anti-poverty coalitions. In March of 2013, two members of the CCHD Advisory Board in the Diocese of Cleveland resigned in protest because of rigid CCHD funding protocols that in the words of one former board member “value conformity over dialogue...and make lists that exclude rather than act to promote understanding of the common good.”

Ah yes. “Social justice”. It’s interesting how the meanings of words can be subtly changed and twisted; once upon a time, I used to wonder how anyone could be “against” social justice! But now, I think we are all pretty aware that many of the people who advocate “social justice” fail to ever include the notion of the “social justice” due to abortion victims (the babies!).  “Gay marriage” also gets its share of support from the “social justice” crowd, and yet it can certainly be argued that the influence of the homosexualist political agenda is to undermine the traditional family and all it stands for – which is to undermine the bedrock of society. It’s not only the “conservatives” and “trads” who “know” the new meaning of the term; the social justice people themselves know it.

The article continues to bash the “conservative” element:

Threats to anti-poverty work are part of a toxic climate of fear in which efforts to narrow Catholic identity to a few hot-button issues distort the debate over Catholic values in public life, and social justice advocates face character assassination.
Consider a few recent illustrative examples of this new landscape [i.e., the “most vociferous critics of CCHD]:

·         Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency, has faced sustained attacks from several conservative Catholic web sites for its funding of the humanitarian organization CARE, which describes as a “contraception-providing charity” that is “pro-abortion.” The grant was used for water and sanitation programs in Central American countries.

·         The Cardinal Newman Society launched a petition drive against Gonzaga University for inviting the anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to give a commencement address. The Newman Society described the world renowned global justice leader as “a pro-abortion rights, pro-contraception Anglican.”

·         From its studios in suburban Detroit, ChurchMilitant.TV is working to “expose” “traitorous” nuns, priests and other Catholics. “We’re no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt,” executive producer Michael Voris told the Associated Press.

There’s so much more in this report that could be exposed for its mischaracterization of true Catholic teaching that I would have to write a tome as long as the report itself to cover it all. Read it for yourself, if you have the stomach.  But I will mention one more point: Near the end of the report, we return to the Alinsky issue. The report says:

Not all of CCHD defunding involves guilt by association. In some cases, there is also a deeper hostility toward the principles of community organizing despite the church’s long history of shaping and supporting this movement.

…In the 1930s, Saul Alinsky began organizing in “Back of the Yards,” a working-class and largely Catholic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side… Alinsky had the support of the city’s auxiliary Catholic bishop, Bernard J. Sheil…

The report offers as a “case study” the situation of group in Diocese of Santa Rosa, CA.
[Susan] Shaw was looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the anti-poverty Campaign. This hope quickly fizzled. In the summer of 2011, Bishop Robert Vasa was appointed to the diocese of Santa Rosa. The funding relationship with CCHD came to a halt.  Shaw and her colleagues were stunned. She left feeling even more perplexed after a cordial meeting with the new bishop. Shaw was told the bishop did not believe in “Alinsky-style organizing.”

Good for you, Bishop Vasa! But Bishop Vasa is painted in a very negative light in this article!

The North Bay Organizing Project is now working to fill a major hole left by the loss of CCHD funding. “We’re scrambling for money now,” Shaw acknowledged.

“I choose not to discuss this,” Bishop Vasa wrote in an e-mail to the author of this report seeking comment about why the North Bay Organizing Project was not renewed for CCHD funding, saying only that it is “reviewed annually.”

The tone throughout the report is one that whines, “We’re trying to empower poor people, and those mean ol’ ‘conservative Catholic activists’ are ruining everything.” It is very evident that the author and those who back the report do not understand what it is to be Catholic. They’ve usurped the meaning of “social justice” to mean what they say it means, and they throw around a lot of catch phrases like “empowering the poor”. Well, are they empowering the poor by improving their spiritual and moral lives as well as their education and training? Or are they simply attempting to “redistribute” the wealth of this country so that the poor have an “equal share”?

And speaking of justice and human rights…the Illinois group mentioned above noted:

This report is stunning in its ability to completely ignore the mass murder of children in the womb and its attempt to blame Catholics, who defend the right to life for all of God’s children, as lacking charity.

That’s right: there’s not one word about the evil of abortion in that report. Not one word.

Wait! I’m wrong. There was “one word”. It’s in a quote from a retired bishop (my emphases):

At a time when poverty is growing and people are hurting we should not withdraw from our commitment to helping the poor. Catholic identity is far broader than opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Catholic identity is a commitment to living the Gospel as Jesus proclaimed it, and this must include a commitment to those in poverty.
— Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza
President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,

Yes, “Catholic identity” is broader than those two issues. But those issues lie at the core of the true sense of “human rights” and “social justice”, and at the very heart of the Gospel. After all, what was it Jesus said about “the least of these”?


  1. Dr. Jay, one of your best post ever. Thank you.


  2. Thank you, and do not understand how seemingly orthodox bishop, either continue to support this or say nothing! JMS

  3. This situation, while frustrating, should not be too surprising in this day of what you see is not necessarily what you get.

    Our society has embraced a "fast food" mentality: food that appears good and appealing but is actually detrimental. We are only too happy to get a "deal" at Stuff Mart to obtain good produced by slave labor (located away from our view) in lieu of paying higher prices for similar products made in our towns and cities (Heaven forbid those workers be paid a living wage).

    Democrats vs Republican? Catholics vs Protestants? Peace vs War? Security vs Tyranny? Who can tell the difference?

    Our society has sold its soul and it's time to pay the piper. Guess the only hope for the future is in another remnant. Who's got the ark?

  4. Dr Boyd:

    I won't read the report; my time would be better employed setting my hair on fire and putting it out with a tack hammer. But the excerpts you provided are choice and hilarious, showing a desperation that I didn't think these aging hippies were capable of. Thanks for posting their droolings.

  5. Aged Parent - ha! I admit, I never did make it all the way through that thing. It WOULD be funny if they weren't so dead serious about it!

  6. Jay,

    I know this isn't the right post, but considering your book and numerous posts on NFP, I thought you might like to see this:

  7. Thanks, HHM. The funny thing is, another reader sent me that link yesterday, and I immediately emailed the editor of the publication, and he put me in touch with the author! Seems like a very nice humble man! I plan to do a post highlighting some excerpts from the article. The article is posted on Rorate Caeli blog now, too.

    1. I got the article from Rorate Caeli, which is one of my favorite blogs.

      It is heartening to see more & more heralds crying in the wilderness! I thank both you& the author for speaking out amidst great persecution & misunderstanding! I have seen some of the comments left on your NFP posts!

      I know people think I am crazy for letting God decide my family size - 5 living, 3 miscarried. At 43, I still hope for more, but it doesn't seem to be God's plan for us.


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