Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CCHD Reform Proposal Deserves "Wait, See, and Sit on Your Wallet" Response from Laity

A year ago the Reform CCHD Now Coalition was launched to challenge the grants being issued by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development under the auspices of the USCCB. As a result of well documented criticisms led by coalition members from even before the coalition's formation (see here and here), which helped prompt questions from some bishops, the CCHD has proposed “stronger policies and clearer mechanisms” to guide how grants are awarded to poverty-fighting groups, the focus of the campaign,  and strengthen oversight of how funds are spent by grantees.

Deal Hudson notes from the media conference call to review the proposal:
The list of 2010 grantees will not be made available until the grantees have been thoroughly reviewed under the new guidelines. The grantees will also be required to sign a contract with the USCCB not to advocate policies like abortion and same-sex marriage.

A new staff level position is being created to guide the review process along with a panel of theologians.

Whether the proposal contains adequate enforcement provisions remains to be seen, but the tone of the call suggested a substantial effort is underway to respond to the CCHD critics.

Bishop [Roger] Morin [chair of the USCCB subcommittee on CCHD] was emphatic in apologizing for the mistakes made by CCHD -- "It's an imperfect world," he said several times. He also underscored that only a few grantees had been revoked and did not acknowledge the much larger number about which serious doubts have been raised by the Reform CCHD Coalition.

The annual CCHD collection will be held on Nov. 20-21 in spite of the fact that the grantee list has not been published.
As for this year's campaign, it is too little, too late. The actions being proposed are a good start, but gaps remain in addressing the array of general fund grants that have been going to groups dedicated to policy positions diametrically opposed to Church teaching, the ongoing conflict of interest/fellow traveler status of CCHD staff with such groups, the enforcement criteria and process to which Mr. Hudson alludes, and the lack of transparency of the grantees prior to the campaign's solicitation of the people in the pews. Ask again after the bishops approve the proposal and there's a year's worth of record to evaluate again whether the CCHD is worth supporting. In the mean time, there is nothing stopping anyone from supporting directly worthy organizations that are fighting poverty on the front lines.


It appears at the least the implementation of the CCHD reforms are an epic failure.

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