Thursday, November 19, 2009

The definition of help

It looks as though the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is being heavily scrutinized this year by many Catholics. It's about time.

I wrote a few posts during last year's election season about the CCHD; if you go to them you will find links to many helpful articles and stories about the CCHD which I found in my reading. There's a lot of good information online which details the various CCHD-related funding scandals and issues over the years.

Now, one of the big problems when I was writing was CCHD's funding of ACORN. As late as 2007, 1.1 million dollars raised from Catholic parishes went to ACORN, a group which can't really be said to share Catholic values, unless giving home loans to pimps of underage girls is a Catholic value I missed somewhere in my education.

The Catholic bishops voted to stop funding ACORN, of course. So what groups are they funding?

Well, if you go to this page and click the link marked "Current funded projects," you'll get:

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Of course, you can just go to the page which has PDF files of various years' grant recipients. The 2009 list is here. On it, you'll find such things as these:

New Jersey
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource
Center, Inc.

Established in 2000, Wind of the Spirit (WotS) is a grassroots, interfaith organization of immigrants from various parts of Latin America who are affected by immigration policies working in collaboration with non-immigrants. Wind of the Spirit's mission is to organize and empower the community for social change; to help immigrants and non-immigrants come to know each other and be enriched by one another; to educate members of the immigrant community on their rights and responsibilities; to promote activities to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the Morristown community; to advocate for the human rights and dignity of all people regardless of immigration status; to create a deeper understanding of the global conditions that underlie immigration; and to work together for a world of solidarity, peace, and justice. $25,000

Intercommunity Justice and
Peace Center

IJPC is a coalition of faith-based organizations and individuals who work together to educate around justice issues, take collaborative action and do public witness. We address local, national and international concerns focusing on economic justice, women's issues, human rights, racial equality, peace and the environment. Founded by Catholic Women Religious, IJPC works out of a deep faith perspective, basing decision-making on Catholic Social Teaching, yet involved in interfaith collaboration. Founded in 1985, IJPC's goals continue to be: ·to deepen awareness of justice as integral, not optional, to our faith response; to network participating organizations and to collaborate with other concerned groups for stronger public witness and impact on justice and peace issues; to plan and carry out programs of education and action which affect structural injustice. Under the pursuit of human rights, IJPC has strategically planned an Ohio Death Penalty Moratorium Project. This multi-faceted plan allows for the continued growth of the Families That Matter [FTM] Program. $25,000

Des Moines
A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy
AMOS was formed over 10 years ago when Rabbis, lay leaders, pastors and the Bishops from the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, ELCA and Episcopal traditions gathered with an interest in forming a congregation based community organization that could help the faith community live out its prophetic imperative for justice. The mission of AMOS is to re-create community by giving ordinary citizens an organizational vehicle through which they can act in the public arena, cross the lines that divide and win concrete specific improvements to their communities. The group addresses poverty and powerlessness through the on-going building of a diverse, broad-based community organization with a particular emphasis on issues of health care for all, workforce development and expansion of the organization in the areas of recruitment and leadership development. In the area of healthcare, AMOS will continue to work with the Iowa Legislature to expand health care coverage to poor uninsured adults and not just children. Additionally Ms. Camargo and others will be working to develop a constituent presence of ordinary people who currently do not have insurance and must rely on the fractured and often ineffectual safety net system. $40,000.00

These are a tiny example of the kinds of organizations your CCHD dollars go to, or at least went to this past year. To learn more about these three, here are their websites: Wind of the Spirit, Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, and AMOS. Be sure to take note of the IPJC's anti-military recruiting campaign, and of AMOS' proud, front-page statement of their ties to Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation.

Perhaps you're the sort of Catholic who is saying, "So what? The Church's mission is consistent with agitating for illegal immigration, opposing the military, wars, and military recruitment, and organizing for power." I think that's arguable, but nonetheless, the bishops in their annual call for CCHD fundraising have a tendency to say things like this:

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 18, 2009 ( A U.S. bishops' aide is saying that an annual collection to support the poor is more important than ever this year.The collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development will take place in most parishes this weekend.
This year's collection has the theme "Families Are Struggling. Faith Is Calling." The fund drive comes as U.S. census figures show that the number of poor people in the United States is up almost 3 million since last year.

"The mission of CCHD is crucial in 2009: To uplift and embolden all who are one layoff or one medical scare away from the poverty line -- and all who are already there," said Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, chairman of the Subcommittee on CCHD.

And so Catholics might be forgiven if they think CCHD funds go directly to help the poor. But Matthew Vadum at The American Spectator points out the reality:

The charitable arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CCHD has never provided direct relief to the poor. That's not its purpose.

CCHD is an extreme left-wing political organization that was created to feed and foster radical groups, but most Catholics are blissfully unaware of its true mission. CCHD says right on its website that it aims to support "organized groups of white and minority poor to develop economic strength and political power."

Giving to help the poor is a noble act of Christian charity. But does funding mainly left-wing political organizations which take their inspiration from Saul Alinsky, a man who believed in the acquisition of power as the solution to all problems, a man who once said, "Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life..." really do anything to ameliorate the pangs of poverty? Does the money spent financing activism do more than spending that same amount to take care of the immediate needs of the desperately poor?

I think Catholics are free to say that no, activism (much of it extremely leftist) is not the answer, and to send their CCHD dollars to organizations that really do care, daily, for the poor (the Little Sisters of the Poor have been mentioned as a possible recipient). The better question is why Catholics have been allowed to believe, for years, that their CCHD contributions are going to "help the poor" when there's a basic disagreement between pro-CCHD and anti-CCHD Catholics about the definition of the word "help."


Barbara said...

What's worse is the presence of pro-abort UNANIMA a group of 16 religious orders that support CEDAW (reproductive rights)at a social work conference: Note the presence of PICO's founder!

JMB said...

Paterson, NJ is a few miles away from me. Should I do a drive by? This topic was recently brought up at a parish open forum meeting and our pastor said that we are by no means obligated to contribute $ to CCHD.