Questions about program, need for Haiti relief prompt decision
GREEN BAY — Sometimes, a timeout is needed to review the facts.
That’s what the Diocese of Green Bay is doing this year with the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Normally on the fourth Sunday of Lent parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay take up a collection titled The World’s Poor, which benefits three outreach ministries: Peter’s Pence (work of the Holy Father), Catholic Relief Services (U.S. bishops’ disaster relief aid) and CCHD.
This year, however, donations to The World’s Poor will be shared between Peter’s Pence and Catholic Relief Services only.
“There have been some questions about programs that have received funding from CCHD,” says Fr. John Doerfler, vicar general and chancellor for the Diocese of Green Bay. “That, along with the enormous post-earthquake needs in Haiti, we decided this is an appropriate time to give additional support to Catholic Relief Services while we analyze the situation with CCHD.”
In recent months, some local and national Catholic groups and individuals have claimed that CCHD grants in many states have provided funding to groups that promote principles that are contrary to the Catholic Church’s teachings. In response, the CCHD subcommittee (which is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development) has been investigating claims.
In an Oct. 2, 2009, letter to all U.S. bishops, CCHD Subcommittee Chairman Bishop Roger P. Morin wrote that “the CCHD Subcommittee and staff take seriously any allegation that groups we fund are not in compliance with Catholic teaching or are participating in partisan political activity. We immediately investigate each allegation in consultation with the local diocese and, if the allegations are confirmed, discontinue funding immediately. We are always examining ways to strengthen and improve our monitoring efforts to ensure that all of the 250 current grantees comply with CCHD criteria. This is an ongoing process, involving both local dioceses and national CCHD and national staff.”
Bishop Morin also pointed out that CCHD was the first national organization to cut off all funding to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), citing financial irregularities. In 2008, CCHD banned funding ACORN at any local or national level.
In the Diocese of Green Bay, there appears to be no conflict between CCHD grants and church teachings. Local grants have assisted projects that benefit Spanish-speaking immigrants, home health-care aides and homeless and formerly homeless persons. Nonetheless, Bishop David Ricken would like some additional time to fully investigate what is happening locally and nationally. Grants distributed this year are from donations made to CCHD last year.
Established in 1969, the CCHD is the U.S. Catholic bishops’ domestic anti-poverty campaign. CCHD grants are described as promoting self-sufficiency and self-determination among low-income people. According to CCHD, nearly 40 million Americans live below the poverty line. For example, the poverty line is set at $22,050 for a family of four.
As the collection goes, 25 percent of the funds stay in the local diocese and the other 75 percent is forwarded to the national office for national grants.
END OF POST