Catholic Campaign for Human Development:
Jo and Ricky Joyce
A sign in my dentist’s office says three things are certain: death, taxes, and plaque if you don’t floss. Another certainty is each November Catholic parishes take up an extra collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Most parishes across the country will rake in big bucks for CCHD as they have every fall for many, many years. And for more than a few of those years, concerned Catholics have entreated their pastors and bishops to forgo the collection, or at least use the money locally, because of the gross failure to properly vet the organizations given grants.
After years of warning the bishops, scandals like ACORN still weren’t enough to convince the bishops to make serious changes. While CCHD was one of the first donors to drop them, ACORN isn’t the only nut waiting to crack in the collection basket. If CCHD had taken a hard look at its practices at that time, and revamped its organization, there would be no problem. But that opportunity passed by, and in the last three years Catholic researchers have proven that the grants process is hopelessly flawed. CCHD has consistently donated to organizations that directly conflict with the true mission of the Church, 1 as well as CCHD’s own bi-laws.
It is the duty of pastors to listen carefully and with an open heart to laymen and repeatedly to engage in a living dialogue with them. For each and every layman has been given his own gifts and charisms, and more often than not has greater experience than the clergy in daily life in the world. [Leon-Joseph Cardinal Suenens, Belgian Prelate, Vatican 2 Council.]
A whole forest of trees has been sacrificed to the articles written about CCHD2 and its
grants to non-profits like ACORN and other Alinskyian community organizers, mostly ignored by the bishops and CCHD executives. The bishops in charge of CCHD have run a powerful, well-funded machine that could have made great strides in helping the poor. Instead they offered empty promises of “hope and change” while supporting the progressive political coalitions that continue to harm the Church while pushing America to a more secular, atheistic, pro-abortion, homosexual, feministic society.
Alinsky’s cadre of progressive organizations, funded for 50 years by CCHD, promised to address the root causes of poverty, eliminate oppression, and protect the marginalized. Over $200 million in grants3 from CCHD has not yet solved, let alone made a dent, in poverty in America. Many of those projects instead promoted artificial contraception, healthcare that pushed for no conscience clause, encouraged legalizing homosexual marriages and other progressive agenda items. No matter how much the employees of CCHD deny the accusations,4 the proof exists.5 Time after time CCHD executives and bishops promised to screen the grants more carefully, 6 yet undeserving organizations continue to be funded. 7 Do the bishops just sigh and say “Oh, well, we’ll try harder,” or do they get as mad as the faithful contributors and say “This WILL stop now!” and then make it stop?
Grants are not the only problem with CCHD. To any business manager it is obvious problems exist on several levels of the CCHD organization, but without management commitment from the top no reforms will ever be successful. Problems exist with CCHD executives working for other organizations that are blatantly pro-choice.8 Either these executives have a serious conflict of interest, or they hope to maintain the status quo at CCHD of tolerating dissenting organizations. So far, the faithful have received the pabulum of excuses, finger-pointing, and a shifting blame-game—but who is in charge of the CCHD, and who will step forward to stop it? Either the bishops care about the Catholic mission and will force CCHD to conform (or shut it down), or the bishops do not care, and will continue to allow “mistakes” in the grant process. There comes a point when the faithful loses faith in empty promises, and any hope for real change drops like an acorn.
While the national headlines capture Wall Street “occupations” across the country, pockets of faithful Catholics tirelessly work to fight progressive occupation of the Church. Oklahoma citizens are fiercely loyal to Jesus, football and conservatism (not always in that order). Oklahoma is a leader in pro-life legislation and claims bragging rights that not a single county had a majority in the 2008 election for President Obama. 9 When the state best known for twisters appeared on the radar of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), Saul Alinsky’s original Chicago community organizer, Okies were thunderstruck. Were they kidding? Did the progressives really think they had a chance of converting the reddest state in America? About like a one-armed preacher’s odds of baptizing a colony of prairie dogs by immersion.
Yet they came, and in darkness came close to succeeding before their activities were brought to light. Conservative Oklahoma Catholics joined together from multiple parishes where the IAF had sent their “forward guard” to dupe the deacons and leftists, socialist-leaning employees of the diocese. Catholics joined with some other conservative Christian churches to collectively shed light on the progressive influence of community organizing. Many concerned citizens purchased and read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (dedicated to Lucifer) and shared them with pastors and friends, even the archbishop. The priests and pastors have little time to do research, so they must rely on deacons and volunteers to recommend organizations to fund. Some of these deacons and volunteers were innocent in their involvement, but some were not so naive. The conflicts in the parishes occurred just as the first ACORN scandals hit the ground, 10 as well as during the 2008 presidential election, and the red dirt flew like an Oklahoma twister touching down.
Faithful citizens openly attended meetings with the progressives and sent hundreds of emails describing what they witnessed. They formed alliances, made appointments with pastors and the archbishop and wrote letters to the editor of the local Catholic newspaper (until the archbishop stopped printing them). Many, with great emotional trauma, abandoned their parish homes for ones that did not support radical progressive politics. Some brought in a speaker, whose expertise attracted about 250 people—on a college football night—from most of the local Catholic parishes and a bunch of other denominations. A few established websites dedicated to fighting progressive community organizing as well as a Facebook page. Finally, many stopped giving money to questionable organizations—particularly CCHD. Some parishioners have since vowed to give their tithes to specific charity purposes, and never again to an unaccountable “collective fund.”
The newly formed IAF group, Oklahoma Sponsoring Committee,11 fell short of their goal of 40 churches.12 A few Catholic priests, deeply involved from the onset, have maintained their membership.13 The rest dropped, leaving only four Catholic parishes along with the “usual suspects” of Unitarian and far-left protestant and non-denominational churches who espouse progressive, left-wing politics and social values aligned with the true intentions of the IAF.
IAF/OSC, feeling the pinch from cash-cow parishes withholding their funding, held a screening of the movie “A Community Concern”, as a fundraiser for the OSC. They chose a low-performing middle school to try to interest parents and teachers in organizing, but more conservative protesters showed up than parents. The website for “A Community Concern” linked to far left groups of every sort.14 When challenged, the lead organizer even voiced her disapproval. (She also voiced her views of Alinsky as an embarrassing uncle who keeps showing up at family events.) While organizing in Oklahoma schools does not seem successful, it has been very lucrative for IAF (funded by CCHD in many states) in Texas, New York, Illinois, and for other community organizers like PICO in California. It appears the community organizers are there to help the children, but in reality, they exist to get more worker-bees in their beehive, more money for pushing more progressive ideas, and very little if any positive results for the children.
Another fundraiser for IAF/OSC was the screening of the documentary “Panic Nation” held at Mayflower Congregational Church. A priest from one small-town parish provided commentary on the immigration situation afterward. His own bulletin stated the tickets were $10. An affluent, big city Catholic parish bulletin advertised it for $20 (and failed to reveal it was a fundraiser for the OSC). Perhaps this was Alinsky-style affirmative action.15
Oklahoma progressive organizers eventually trained some volunteers, held lots of meetings to complain about transportation, immigration, safety in neighborhoods, healthcare, and schools. Now after three years, they can brag they actually conducted clothing and water drives (root causes of poverty?), and encouraged public buildings to allow the homeless to come inside during hot weather. All very admirable, but at what cost? Their monthly meetings are still held at the Unitarian church16 , on whose website you can find pictures of their faithful wearing pink and marching for “freedom of choice.”17 How can any bishop or cardinal possibly think this is a good thing? Perhaps the priests who attend meetings at the church or with these people are hoping to convert them to Catholic beliefs while they “organize.”
The archbishop emeritus approved at least two CCHD grants totaling $75,000 before he retired (despite his written statement that he never “recommended the OSC” 18), and several parishes gave large donations $5,000 – $8,000) before the progressive connections became visible.19 20 An estimate of approximately $250,000 has been given to IAF/OSC from CCHD, member parishes, other organizations and churches. The OSC will not confirm it, nor will they reveal their current list of member churches. I do not think at this point they would consider their foray into Oklahoma a success, but concerned, faithful Catholic sheepdogs are on duty. 21 22
This is only one example of the faithful fighting to get CCHD and their grantees out of the Catholic Church. Take a look at other dioceses in Florida, California, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and you will see others also appealing to their bishops. Without help from the bishop, the Church Militant will continue to follow Canon Law 212:
According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Most Oklahoma Catholics and many nation-wide will never again donate to CCHD. The bishops have lost their chance on this one. They can attempt to follow ACORN’s example and rename it, but they will probably have the same success ACORN’s replacement has had, because the reason for their existence is wrong. CCHD is no longer serving the Church, but is like an embarrassing uncle that keeps showing up at family events, is eating all the food, begging for loans, has totally different political views, and now he wants to move in. CCHD, go away. There are already many poverty organizations doing a good job. We do not need more competition, or more scandal.23
So where does that leave you? Please consider the following recommendations:
Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you. Sirach 4:28