Ah, the yearly collection for the Catholic campaign for human development is going on, and Catholics are once again asked to put their money into a fund that is essentially run by the left of center ideologues at the Catholic Bishop’s Conference.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well,  for one thing, few people know where the money is going.

I have worked mainly in small rural towns or with minorities. I pretty well knew where to send our people who needed money or help. Got a pregnant teenage daughter who needs baby clothes? The local Right To Life organization will get her the clothing, and help her get on Medicaid. Need some furniture? The local Deseret Industries, Good Will, or St. Vincent De Paul society will arrange it, either as a gift or via their low cost thrift shops. Need extra money for heating? Yes, there are organizations that help, and if worst comes to worst, you can always hit the Salvation Army for help. Often sick people would have their fellow church members drive them to the clinic, or even bring them meals. The soup kitchens, homeless shelters, thrift shops and food banks were often run by church folks, sometimes with each church staffing these places with volunteers so many days each month.

But I was never sure where the Catholic Campaign for Human development came in. I never worked with them. Indeed, I never ran into them at all.

Perhaps it’s because they are funding groups that have little or nothing to do about Catholicism at all.

In the past, Catholics ran their own organizations: from schools to old age homes to gyms (the YMCA back then was too Protestant) to adoption agencies to hospitals to welfare organizations.

Since Vatican II, many of these organizations have shrunk, and many of the nuns have either left their orders or have decided to “do their own thing” by working for secular organizations that did the same thing.

Is this good or bad? I don’t know.

But one result is there is a confusion on where Catholic charity money is going, and there has been no discussion on how ordinary Catholics feel about funding non Catholic organizations that have more to do with left wing political organizing than with reality.

This article gives three examples of “success stories” helped with CCHD funds.

The first is about a center that lets people work for vouchers that let them buy articles with the vouchers. (well, that’s one way to get around those pesky minimum wage laws). Apparantly, this encourages them to go back to actually work for a living.

One is tempted to wonder if giving tax advantages to encourage local business investment might have been a better investment of funds to get people working, but never mind.

The next is about funding an American Indian activist organization to reclaim the land that once was under tribal jurisdiction, but ended up in the hands of others due to lack of legal proof that it was tribal land.

Indeed, usually this type of thing is done by the tribes themselves. The White Earth tribe makes several million a year off of their casino, which should be used by the tribe to do just that. If the tribe did this, undoubtedly they would figure out how to develop the land, so that there would be more local jobs in timber and hunting, and taxing non tribal members who now live on the land instead of throwing them out.

But the organization funded by the CCHD is also involved in encouraging the locals to live in traditional ways. Luckily, they are also involved in environmental issues,  because if you live traditionally and eat lots of local fish, you just might develop mercury poisoning.

Again, a worthy cause, but it has nothing to do with the church, and indeed is run by outsiders with an agenda that may or may not represent the locals.

Finally, we see the sad story of trying to get child support, and are told that the Church’s grant helped start an organization to pressure the government to collect the money.

But wouldn’t it be better for the church to go back to preaching about sexual responsibility and faithfulness so men don’t desert their families and children (something that is rarely done), instead of funding organizations that encourage government spying to get one’s child support?

There are good arguments to fund such organizations.I have even contributed to similar organizations.

But why are Catholic funds given to purely secular organizations to do these things?

And then there is ACORN.

Over the past years over seven million dollars from the Campaign for Human Development have gone to ACORN organizations.Then suddenly, the bishops were forced to shut it down after  the one million dollar embezzlement scandal broke out.

The scandal caused some to look into where their money was going. And, although ACORN assured them that none of the stolen money came from the CCHD funds, nevertheless, there was a further question if the church’s money was being used for partisan purposes. If so, and the CCHD was aware of it, then their tax exempt status could be called into question.

So the bishop’s lawyers pulled the plug.

From the Bishop’s report:

Last June, CCHD cut off funding to all ACORN groups when we learned about a major case of embezzlement eight years ago that was covered up by ACORN staff leadership. This theft and cover-up raised serious concerns about national ACORN’s financial accountability, transparency, governance and organizational integrity. …

More recently, the Subcommittee also became concerned about widespread reports of ACORN involvement in alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship.

So was Catholic money used for partisan purposes?  Last November, one bishop admitted: (and I paraphrase) well, I told the bishops that it wasn’t but you know ACORN mixed our funds with other peoples funding so I don’t really know.

So when you read all about the anti ACORN stuff in the newspaper, maybe some one should go and ask the Catholic bishops if they ever found where their seven million dollars went.

They were supposed to be checking about it:

CCHD and the USCCB have secured the services of specialists in forensic accounting to help determine if any CCHD money was taken or misused. This investigation is thorough and ongoing.

Well,  a year has passed, and googling has shown no report.

However, the real scandal is that some of the funding is given to other groups that promote abortion and same sex marriage, both of which go against two thousand years of Church dogma.
The editor of First Things, a conservative interfaith journal, the late John Neuhaus, wrote last year:

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license.ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. … The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

So, Catholics, do you know where your money is going?

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Makapiablog.

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