Members of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee overseeing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development reassured their fellow bishops and donors that grant recipients in the antipoverty campaign comply with Catholic precepts.
“We pledge our ongoing efforts to ensure that all C.C.H.D. funds are used faithfully, effectively and in accord with Catholic social and moral teaching,” said Bishop Roger P. Morin of Biloxi, Miss., subcommittee chairman, and the five other bishops who sit on the subcommittee in a statement to the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 17.
The campaign has come under attack from a coalition of Catholic groups pushing for a boycott of this year’s C.C.H.D. collection, the weekend of Nov. 21-22. They claim some groups that receive funding are not in line with church teaching.
The group, online at www.reformcchdnow.com, is urging Catholics to place a specially designed coupon in the collection basket instead of contributions during the C.C.H.D. appeal. The coupon explains that the user’s financial support will be withheld because of concern that some C.C.H.D.-sponsored programs do not fully support church teaching.
In their statement, Bishop Morin and his fellow bishops said all grants are “carefully reviewed at both the national and diocesan levels and are approved by the local diocesan bishop.... No group that opposed Catholic social or moral teaching is eligible for C.C.H.D. funding.”
The statement said that funding is terminated immediately for any group that violates the conditions of a grant and “acts in conflict with Catholic teaching.” The statement cited three cases during the last year—out of 250 funded groups—in which funding was terminated and the groups were asked to repay grant funds.
“However, one case is one too many and we are committed to strengthening C.C.H.D.’s review and monitoring processes,” the statement continued. The bishops pledged to “seek to strengthen C.C.H.D.’s unique and essential efforts to practice charity, seek justice and pursue the common good as taught in the social encyclicals of the church, most recently by our current Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in ‘God Is Love’ and ‘Charity in Truth.’“
In an interview with America, Bishop Morin emphasized that no campaign money has been used to fund directly any activity or advocacy contrary to church teaching. He said C.C.H.D.’s small national staff relies on local recommendations, since “we don’t have the wherewithal to be a presence nationwide.”
The hundreds of community organizations that receive C.C.H.D. grants are often engaged in a variety of activities. Despite C.C.H.D.’s local review, Bishop Morin said, “It’s quite possible for a local group to do something they are not supposed to do, and when that comes to our attention, we cut off funding.”
Despite such instances, Bishop Morin remains confident that taken as a whole “the system works well.” He called C.C.H.D.’s role in promoting self-sufficiency among the nation’s low-income communities a “vital and critical piece of the overall work the church is doing for the poor.”
Rob Gasper, president of Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, one of the groups calling for a reform of C.C.H.D., said on Oct. 28 that he was trying to shed light “not only on the C.C.H.D.” but to also promote groups that serve the poor “in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching.”