Same as it ever was? — USCCB “Review and Renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development” betrays utter lack of reform

I’ve downloaded and read the CCHD “Review and Renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development as Accepted and Affirmed by the USCCB Administrative Committee,” – promulgated on September 15, 2010 – and can only cry in absolute frustration, that nothing has changed. The new, improved CCHD is still all about funding Alinskyian organizing (organizing based on the organizational theories of the late, great Saul Alinsky)….which is still all about progressive politics…which is still all about killing babies.

Yes, CCHD grants will go to progressive organizations that are also concerned with decriminalizing undocumented immigrants, socializing medicine, and nationalizing public education, as it always has, but those are issues good men and women can disagree about. Good organizations, on the other hand, don’t support politicians and policies that kill babies. Since CCHD continues to fund organizations that support pro-abortion politicians and policies, nothing has changed.

There has been no reform of CCHD.

There has been no renewal of CCHD.

CCHD has intractably set its course. It was founded to fund Alinskyian organizing and it will, if this document of “review and renewal” is any indication, go down funding Alinskyian organizing.

The document’s Introduction, for instance, after a whole lot of pious rhetoric, lists 4 examples of “CCHD’s remarkable work.” Two of those examples are Alinskyian organizations: Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), an affiliate of Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation network, and the Federation of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS), an affiliate of PICO, a network founded in the IAF-style by an IAF-trained organizer. This is “CCHD’s remarkable work.”

Pro-life groups around the US, under the banner of Reform CCHD Now, have demonstrated that dozens of CCHD grantees have been directly engaged in activities that violate Church teachings. According to “Review and Renewal,” CCHD has withdrawn funding from only five of them. If this is the best CCHD can manage, despite overwhelming evidence against the others, CCHD assurances that it will be putting into place “stronger policies and clearer mechanisms to screen and monitor grants and groups” is very un-reassuring.

And while it has verbally distanced itself from groups that are also indirectly engaged in activities that violate Church teachings, the money pours from Catholics, who think their donations are “for the poor,” straight into progressive coffers. So while CCHD states it “will not fund groups that are members of coalitions which have as part of their organizational purpose or coalition agenda, positions or actions that contradict fundamental Catholic moral and social teaching,” it continues to fund the Alinskyian organizing networks and their affiliates. The two “model” grantees give us a very nice picture of how this plays.

Democrat pro-choice politician Henry Cisneros of San Antonio owed his successful mayoral bid directly to the IAF. “IAF’s most successful projects have been based in Texas, where Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) in San Antonio helped elect Henry Cisneros as the city’s first Hispanic mayor.” [David Walls, “Power to the People: Thirty-five Years of Community Organizing,” The Workbook, summer 1994. Cisneros served as mayor of San Antonio from 1981 to 1987.]

As for the Federation of Congregations United to Serve, it recently became a partner with Public Allies Central Florida. Public Allies, whose founding advisory board included President Obama and whose Chicago chapter was run by Michelle Obama from 1993-1996, was one of the original AmeriCorps programs. Its mission is to “advance new leadership” and, in that capacity frequently has “partnered” with Planned Parenthood (e.g. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh). In fact, Public Allies’ national head of finance and administration is Tim Hosch, previously the Controller at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. What an interesting partner for a CCHD-funded organization.

Guilt by association? You betcha. These associations marry Alinskyian community organizations to the progressive policies and persons of the Democrat Party – and Alinskyian community organizations are the groups that receive the bulk of CCHD grants.

With that in mind, consider CCHD’s new “commitments,” detailed in “Review and Renewal.” Many of them involve plastering statements of intention here and there (“Add introductory statement on CCHD mission foundations and identity on all forms, applications, materials,” “Revise CCHD Grant Agreement to more clearly state prohibited activities,” “…add more specific language to the CCHD Grant Agreement,” “…revise and refine the CCHD Grant Agreement for greater clarity”) that will mean absolutely NOTHING unless there is a fundamental restructuring of the collection.

Similarly, creating “a new position to focus on promoting, safeguarding and monitoring the Catholic identity of CCHD and compliance with CCHD requirements” will accomplish NOTHING if the person who fills that position thinks – as CCHD has argued for 40 years – that Alinskyian community organizing and its political shenanigans are perfectly compliant with CCHD requirements.

It’s all doublespeak unless there’s a change of direction – a metanoia – a conversion. Doing what CCHD has always done will produce what CCHD has always produced.

Stop trying to “Share the Good News of CCHD” (could “Review and Renewal” have crafted a more offensive statement?) and start sharing the good news of Jesus. Stop trying to “empower the poor” and help them, instead. Stop worrying about the bad PR (“CCHD will develop more timely, consistent and effective ways to monitor and respond to coverage of CCHD in both new and traditional media”) and worry instead about bad programs. For heaven’s sake, don’t try to persuade us that “enlarge[ing] the range of grant amounts ($25,000 – $75,000)” to organizations whose progressive fellowships – that’s “dead babies” when you come out of the bureaucratic and into the real world – is positive.

Way toward the end of “Review and Renewal,” there’s a little item that “CCHD will seek appropriate ways to integrate its activities to protect the life and dignity of those who are poor or suffering from economic injustice into the broader USCCB “life and dignity” priority…The connection between family (broken families, absent fathers, domestic violence, unwed pregnancies, etc.) and economic (joblessness, low wages, discrimination, globalization, etc.) aspects of poverty should be an area of continuing focus for CCHD.” It’s the best part of this sorry 15-page document.

However, one would like to know why, in the one spot in the US where this very connection was attempted – the Archdiocese of Chicago – the CCHD director was “let go.”

For 40 years, the Catholic bishops and the Catholic community in the United States have been duped. They have been unwitting partners in a serious and sustained commitment to manipulate low-income people and poor communities into supporting a progressive agenda that has included dead babies. That isn’t how we serve the poor – and it doesn’t make their lives better.

But it does insure that the reviewed and renewed CCHD is pretty much the same creature as it’s always been.

Stephanie Block is a member of the Catholic Media Coalition and the editor of the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper.

Info: http://www.usccb.org/cchd/

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