Monday, November 10, 2008
CCHD AND ACORN
There are two interesting articles about this subject available on the web. The liberal voice can be found on the "America" magazine blog in an article written by Austen Ivereigh titled "Community organizing: the new front in the US Catholic culture wars?". In this article Ivereigh tells us:
...the community organizing tradition[is that] which shaped Barack Obama. The links between the Catholic Church and community organizing are very strong: Saul Alinksy, whose methods are taught today by the institute he founded, the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), first "organized" in the Back of the Yards area of Chicago's South Side in the 1930s, when he teamed up the local Catholic parishes and the labor unions to take on the meatpacking plants and the corrupt landlords. An auxiliary bishop of Chicago, Bernard J. Sheil, was one of Alinsky's main backers, as would later be Cardinal Bernardin. The great twentieth-centry French scholastic Jacques Maritain, the father of European Christian Democracy, was an admirer and lifelong friend....
Most, if not all, of the 65 IAF-affiliated community organizations across the US -- Arizona Interfaith, One LA, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Gamaliel Foundation -- have inner-city Catholic congregations as their backbone. And many have received grants over the years from the US bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which began life in 1969 as the National Crusade against Poverty. The organization Obama worked for in the 1980s, the Developing Communities Project (DCP), was in receipt of CCHD grants....
Lawrence J. Engel's detailed 1998 study of the influence of Saul Alinksy on the CCHD chronicles the commitment of the CCHD to community organizing, and suggests that Alinsky's method of enabling the poor to become advocates of social change have had a decisive impact on the American Catholic social justice movement. Alinksy is to Catholic social teaching what Paulo Freire in Brazil was to the rise of liberation theology in Latin America: they were both masters of the "method" by which ordinary people come to exert power over their lives, and expand their productive assets.
Opposing this article is the conservative voice of Fr. John Neuhaus editor of "First Things":
The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.
This is not quite accurate. CCHD uses the word "Catholic" in its name. If memory serves me correctly, it was added to the previous title which was "Campaign for Human Development."
Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.
What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations.
Thus it would seem that Catholics who oppose Obama's abortion stance have themselves and their contribution to CCHD partially to blame for his rise to power. When it comes to abortion we have, in a sense, created our own enemy.
The USCCB website has the list of CCHD Grantees posted on their website.
2007 can be found here.
2006 is here.
2005 is here.
2004 is here.
Adding up the numbers shows that $1,056,000 was contributed to ACORN, $25,000 went to Gamaliel, and $30,000 to IAF, for a total of $1,111,000 in 2007. That is the amount given to organizations that are openly associated with Alinsky methodology. Are there others on this list which do not make their activities as widely known but who are also practicing Alinskian politics?
In any case, the Bishops have admitted the need for reform. At the USCCB website is a pdf letter from Bishop Roger Morin, Chair, CCHD Subcommittee, addressed to All Bishops. In it he says that funding of ACORN has been suspended:
Recent widespread reports of alleged ACORN involvement in voter registration controversies and allegations of fraud raise additional serious concerns. Non-partisan voter registration, especially in poor communities, is important and needed work. Too often poor voters are not registered or are not encouraged to participate in the vital choices that affect their
(sic)families and communities. However, these allegations and controversies raise serious and legitimate concerns. The current halt of ACORN funding means that no CCHD funds are involved in any of these activities. Nonetheless, the suspension of all ACORN funding will not be lifted until and unless it is clear that CCHD funds will not go to an organization that has engaged in unlawful activities or voter registration fraud, even though this does not involve CCHD funds.
But let's be clear. It was not only ACORN that was involved in voter registration. The parent organization, the Industrial Areas Foundation, also had organized Ohio voter drives going before the election. Were they on the level?