Catholic Bishops Join Forces with Social Justice Warriors to Prop Up Scandal-Plagued Charity

Prelates ignore evidence that their poverty-relief network is funneling millions to anti-Christian causes.

By Jules Gomes Published on June 19, 2024

Catholic bishops have thrown a lifeline to the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Church, dismissing revelations of financial scandals and calls for its closure.

At a closed-door executing meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on June 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, a majority of prelates demonstrated unwavering support for the controversy-ridden Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

“In all the discussions, the bishops’ ongoing commitment to the vital work of fighting poverty was clear,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the group’s president, said at a press conference. The CCHD was “initially told to spend down their resources. Unfortunately, they did that better than perhaps was desirable.”

“There were many very supportive comments made in favor of retaining CCHD. It was a pleasant surprise,” commented Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, an LGBTQ+ advocate and a member of the bishops’ subcommittee for the CCHD.

Social Justice Activists Defend Scandal-Plagued Charity

Scores of Catholic social justice activists signed a June 10 letter urging bishops not to ax the CCHD in light of Jesus’s teaching: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

“In this time of polarization and distrust of institutions, CCHD has proven to be a solid program that transcends traditional differences, promoting subsidiarity and solidarity,” the signatories asserted.

The Lepanto Institute provided documentation in its open letter demonstrating that at least 33% of CCHD-funded organizations are in direct violation of CCHD grant guidelines each year.

This signaled a challenge to a previous open letter from conservative Catholics calling for the CCHD to be shut down. The earlier petition, launched on May 27 by the Lepanto Institute, warned that the CCHD had funneled millions of dollars to left-wing outfits inspired by Marxist activist Saul Alinsky that are “promoting immoral and anti-Catholic beliefs,” including abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and witchcraft, The Stream reported.

The Lepanto Institute provided documentation in its open letter demonstrating that at least 33% of CCHD-funded organizations are in direct violation of CCHD grant guidelines each year.

A review of the 2021–2022 report for CCHD grants revealed that 66 recipients violate CCHD guidelines and Catholic moral teaching.

Progressives Ignore Funding for Immoral Causes

However, the progressive Catholics insisted that “CCHD utilizes rigorous standards for grant recipients that outline adherence to the teachings of the Church and requires that those who are living in poverty are an integral part of the governance of the organization.”

Bishops had signaled that they would discuss the future of the CCHD during the USCCB Spring Assembly amid questions of its financial management and ongoing viability after its director, Ralph McCloud, resigned in April for unexplained reasons.

“Since this is a personnel matter, further detail will not be discussed at this time,” USCCB spokesperson Chieko Noguchi told media.

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Last year, CCHD subcommittee chairman Bishop Timothy Senior said the charity does not fund bodies that “violate the moral or social teaching of the Church.”

Rather, he asserted that the CCHD “takes every allegation that a group is working against Catholic values, very seriously” and groups engaged “in activity contrary to Church teaching, such as promoting abortion or same-sex marriage,” would not qualify for funding “because this is a clear violation of the CCHD funding criteria and guidelines.

“Together with the local diocese, each allegation is rigorously reviewed,” the bishop insisted.

Questions About Bishop Heading CCHD

But a top source close to the USCCB told The Stream that Senior’s claims were “patently untrue” and that the “vetting carried out was far from rigorous, if any” was even conducted.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Senior “did not enjoy a good reputation among his peers and while personally a nice man and clean, could not be trusted to handle the finances of an organization like the CCHD, which had been infiltrated by the Barack Obama types.”

Lepanto Institute Founder and President Michael Hichborn dismissed the bishops’ claims, explaining:

“For the last 15 years, I have personally investigated and exposed the activities of hundreds of organizations receiving funds from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). During that time, bishops and officers of the CCHD have gone to great lengths to deny that there are any problems with CCHD grantees while continuing to ask for funds.”

Hichborn noted that “the usual suspects of the Revolutionary Left” had “published several articles begging the U.S. bishops to keep the CCHD in place” and “one of the CCHD’s most favored networks of grantees — the Gamaliel Foundation” had written to the USCCB asking them to continue the disbursement of grants.

‘Revolutionary Left’ Accuses Conservatives of ‘Hit Job’

The Gamaliel Foundation’s letter accuses “a vocal and extremist right-wing group in the Catholic Church whose agenda does not appear to align with the Scriptural and moral mandate to address the problems of the poor and marginalized in society” of engaging in a “public ‘hit job’ on [the] CCHD.”

“In 2012, the Gamaliel Network was completely untruthful with the CCHD about its relationship with an organization that had taken a formal position on same-sex ‘marriage,’” Hichborn responded. “When I proved to the CCHD that what Gamaliel told them was untrue, Ralph McCloud canceled the meeting we were supposed to have and cut off all subsequent communication.”

According to the left-wing National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, were among the minority of prelates who called for pulling the plug on the CCHD.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who welcomed a gay pilgrimage to the Sacred Heart Basilica Cathedral in 2017, gave a “powerful endorsement” of the CCHD’s work and “every other speaker echoed Tobin,” the NCR, quoting several unnamed bishops, reported.

The support for the anti-poverty program was so strong, it prompted one bishop to characterize the moment as ‘a turning point.’ The critics of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development had overreached, misjudging the tenor of the body of bishops as a whole.

CCHD Faces Financial Meltdown

According to audited financial statements available on the USCCB website, the CCHD operated in the red in all but one year (2017) from 2014 to 2022, adding up to a cumulative net loss of $30.6 million dollars over nine years.

While the CCHD’s net assets have decreased from $58 million at the end of 2013 to $8 million at the end of 2022, the CCHD has continued to spend around $11.3 million per year, which is more than it has received in collections during any year over the last decade.

The charity is funded by an annual second collection in Catholic parishes, which takes place in the second half of November during Sunday Masses across the U.S. While each diocese retains 25% of the funds for local anti-poverty programs, the USCCB receives 75% of the amount for national distribution.

 

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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