Minneapolis, Minn., Nov 21, 2009 / 04:50 am (CNA).- Responding to concerns about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Archbishop John Nienstedt and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput have said the CCHD still does “much good,” despite several “disturbing” incidents and “mistakes” in which the campaign funded groups that worked against Catholic teachings.
In his Nov. 19 column Archbishop Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis called attention to the collection for the CCHD on the weekend of Nov. 21-22.
He said the Campaign aims to “break the cycle of poverty” for 40 million people in the U.S. by funding local “self-help, anti-poverty” organizations. Many of these are not under the auspices of the Church, but agree to follow guidelines which prevent them from violating Catholic teachings, the archbishop explained.
He then noted recent controversies in which the CCHD had to stop funding for three projects that violated those guidelines. He said CCHD funding was “immediately cut off” when violations were made known.
As an example, he referred to an immigrant workers’ rights group that began advocating against California’s Proposition 8 and for same-sex “marriage.” Such a position, Archbishop Nienstedt said, “obviously has nothing to do with the rights of immigrants.”
In November the CCHD issued a document “For the Record – The Truth about CCHD Funding” to respond to various charges and criticisms.
In that document, the CCHD said it “fully upholds” Church teaching on the sanctity of life.
The American Life League, which is critical of the CCHD, claimed that the campaign did not address the allegation that grantees are “closely associated with pro-abortion organizations.”
“It is well and good that it affirms the sanctity of human life… but the fact remains that Catholic funds have been used and are still used to support such organizations,” the ALL’s Michael Hichborn wrote.
He said in addition to the CCHD grantees profiled by ALL, CCHD grants should be denied to every organization that has received funding from pro-abortion organizations, has been promoted by Planned Parenthood, or has been involved with “Marxist socialism.”
The CCHD’s response to concerns that all grant money is “fungible,” Hichborn said, was “inadequate and inaccurate.” If one project of an organization is well funded, he said, money in the organization’s general fund is freed up for other projects.
If an unworthy organization is running a good project, Hichborn argued, a Catholic cannot donate to that project because it “lends credibility” to the organization, causes scandal to the laity, and frees up the organization’s general fund for other “evil projects.”
The CCHD reported that the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), which was accused of promoting same-sex “marriage” and actively supporting contraception and the morning-after pill, was cleared by a review conducted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and also had the support of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Hichborn charged that this was an “absolute indictment” of the archdioceses’ “complicity in supporting immoral organizations.”
He also claimed that the CCHD addressed “the exact same allegations” 12 years ago using similar fact sheets. These “striking similarities,” Hichborn said, show that these problems have persisted for some time.
Archbishop Nienstedt’s letter defended the CCHD. Though reports about some grantees’ actions are “disturbing,” he said, “one has to realize that they are four out of over 250 projects that are funded by CCHD every year.”
“I am aware that some groups have widely advertised such flaws in the CCHD system, hoping to torpedo the whole operation. This, it seems to me, is the classic ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water.’ There are imperfections, yes, but there is also so much good that is being done through this collection.”
He pointed to Bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi Roger Morin, who gave public reassurances about the CCHD grant approval process at the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly in Baltimore.
“In light of those assurances, I have no hesitation in contributing to this collection and I encourage your generous participation as well,” Archbishop Nienstedt continued.
Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput also commented on the CCHD controversy in an interview with Mike Sullivan of the group Catholics United for the Faith. He said that people should be “prudent” and shouldn’t jump to “rash conclusions.” He said that he believed that some CCHD staff has made mistakes, but he said some blogs had been “excessive in their judgment.”
“People shouldn’t believe everything they read or be upset with the kind of intensity that I’ve seen, because I think that intensity leads to blindness.”
He said that people could contribute to the CCHD collection without worrying that they are supporting causes that conflict with Church teaching.
“If people don’t like the decisions of the Campaign staff and their allocations, one of the ways they can show their displeasure is by withholding funds from their diocesan collections,” the archbishop added.
“We bishops serve ourselves and the collection well if we are honest about mistakes, try not to make them again, and move on appropriately.”