The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently overhauled its website and in the process made some key updates. One interesting update concerns the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s (CCHD) Truth About CCHD page. CCHD first published this page about ten years ago, and it contains various attempts to defend the abysmal granting record of the CCHD.
The “Truth” page has been relatively static over the last ten years, but the updated edition does contain some new language. The Lepanto institute is very careful when investigating the CCHD’s grants and we take rebuttals to our work very seriously. So, in that spirit we will fully analyze the newest defense provided by the CCHD and see if we stand to be corrected in any way.
Much of the language used in the CCHD’s new “Truth” page is largely based upon a 2017 internal memo written by CCHD director, Ralph McCloud, who was responding to some of our earlier reports. Because the current “Truth” page is a representation of McCloud’s 2017 memo, it once again illustrates CCHD’s refusal to engage our reports and evidence directly while recycling vague generalities and character attacks.
The Truth about CCHD’s first paragraph immediately launches an ad hominem attack against the motives of our reporting, calling it both coordinated and exploitative, originating in either a misperception of the CCHD’s mission or opposition to Church teaching on charity and justice. It says:
“Throughout its history, CCHD and CCHD grantees have at times been subject to organized, exploitative attacks. Although sometimes these attacks originate in a misperception of the mission of CCHD to empower communities in their work to overcome injustice and economic marginalization, at times they derive from opposition to the Church’s teaching and work in the field of charity and justice.”
There’s a lot to unpack in this paragraph, so we’ll tackle it point by point, beginning with the claim that these “attacks” are done in an organized, meaning orchestrated way. Before the Lepanto Institute was formed in 2015, CCHD was the focus of a series of recent reports beginning in 2010. This would not be the first time pro-life and pro-family organizations would report on the pro-abortion, Marxist, pro-contraception activities of CCHD grantees; such reports date back to the early 1980s. In 2010, I was part of a loose and diverse pro-life coalition (Reform CCHD Now) who all shared a common concern that CCHD’s grants were still fueling pro-abortion organizations. We were correct in our accusations, and in fact CCHD was forced to defund several groups and enter a review and renewal process due to the Reform CCHD Coalition’s efforts. Working in coalition is not a moral evil, and in fact it is very common for groups to work together in coalition. CCHD has also worked in coalition with others as do many of its grantees. The Reform CCHD Coalition is no longer in existence, and apart from some pro-life publications, most Catholic media will not touch our reporting with a ten-foot pole out of fear of being black-listed by the USCCB. By all honest accounting of the “truth,” perhaps the CCHD would like to address the fact that its own internal memos indicate a coordinated effort to attack our work, while the subsequent blackout in mainstream Catholic media suggests its own orchestrated efforts.
CCHD also claims our reporting is “exploitative”, in other words done to make a profit or to exploit the CCHD for personal gain. No evidence is given by the CCHD to substantiate this point, and basic Catholic charity absolutely requires that proof be given when leveling such a charge related to motives. Our motive is, was, and always will be to be in service to Holy Mother Church and our reporting is primarily aimed at #1) informing the legitimate Church authorities what is being done in their name and #2 giving faithful Catholics information about what their money is funding. If our primary goal was personal gain and profit, we would have accepted the bribe offered by the CCHD several years ago. Furthermore, if the CCHD would simply stop providing grants to the enemies of the Church and America, there would be nothing for us to report.
CCHD further claims that “attacks” sometimes originate in a “misperception of the mission of CCHD.” Again, no evidence of this claim is given. The Lepanto Institute does understand the mission of the CCHD as written in vague language on the USCCB website and has also reported on how this mission is carried out in practice. We would have nothing to report if the CCHD really worked to address root causes of poverty by empowering and educating the poor. Instead, the CCHD more often funds progressive organizations who seek to exploit the poor as a source of power for political gain. This is the Saul Alinsky model, one which uses the Church as a cash cow, and the poor as a source of exploitable manpower for Utopian socialist goals. This is not Church social teaching, nor is this addressing the root causes of poverty.
CCHD follows this by stating that if it is not from a misperception of their mission, “attacks” originate from “opposition to Church teaching and work in the field of charity and justice.” Again, no evidence is given to back up this claim. The Lepanto Institute is in no way opposed to Church teaching on justice or her work in the field of charity, and we would have nothing to report on CCHD if they did not act in opposition to Church teaching, either. However, CCHD, again and again, funds organizations actively engaged AGAINST the Church. The organizations are documented promoting abortion, contraception, homosexual activity, Marxist communism, violence against police and rioting in our cities.
CCHD follows this first paragraph with a sentence that is quite puzzling:
“Despite best efforts to engage critics and set the record straight, this may continue to be the case”
While it is true that CCHD met with members of the Reform CCHD Now coalition, McCloud and other CCHD representatives adamantly refused to address the highly detailed concerns raised in our reports or provide any explanations regarding the evidence we collected. What little information CCHD did provide in these meetings can be summarized in three simple excuses:
- A rogue employee wrote the offending information on the grantee’s website.
- The grantee is made up of poor, uneducated people “who have never flown on planes” and wouldn’t know what sort of evil coalition they were joining.
- The organization claims they never did what they said they did on their website.
We were more than willing to give those grantees a pass and not report on them as long as they publicly repudiated their previous statements and condemned any evil coalitions they had unwittingly joined. However, as we discovered more and more grantees in violation of CCHD’s own grant guidelines and having heard the same explanations and excuses over and over again, we began to ask for more detail and also went directly to the US Bishops with our evidence. CCHD then abruptly cut off communication with us following our exposure of the Gamaliel organization as outright lying to the CCHD in 2012 and has not engaged us in any meaningful way since that time.
We have written dozens of reports since then with documented evidence of grantees engaged in evil activities, and those reports have not once been refuted with any explanations. If this is CCHD’s “best effort” at engaging critics, it deserves to be defunded entirely. We are more than open to meet with CCHD and have made this known to them on many occasions. We have even called on Ralph McCloud to meet us in a space of his choosing for an open and public discussion. We have yet to receive a reply.
CCHD then states, “It is important to know the following,” and lists five bullet pointed items. Our response to each will be in red.
- As the official national anti-poverty program of the bishops in the United States, CCHD is governed and overseen by the bishops, accountable to the bishops, and operates at the highest levels of fidelity to Church teaching, integrity and transparency.
CCHD here is in a sense throwing the bishops under the bus. Most bishops do not have the time to review CCHD grantees and rely on staff and the CCHD itself to give them information. Being accountable to the bishops is no guarantee that the CCHD is operating at the highest level of fidelity, integrity and transparency. The CCHD has shown repeatedly that it is either incompetent or complicit in giving grants to evil organizations in the bishops’ name. That being the case, how could the bishops be receiving full and accurate information needed to oversee the CCHD if the CCHD is either incompetent or complicit?
- CCHD is pro-life, pro-family, and pro-community and will never do anything to undermine that commitment.
We have repeatedly proven that the CCHD has in fact undermined all the above with no rebuttal.
- CCHD monitors every award recipient through an exacting reporting process and works jointly with individual dioceses to ensure each group’s harmony with authentically Catholic sensibilities. Every year, each group’s grant receives the formal written endorsement of the local bishop.
Again, bishops are reliant on the information provided. We have shown time and again that grants are going to evil organizations, thus the rigorous reporting process is either not working or being worked around.
- Justice requires that CCHD investigate with due diligence any claim that a funded group may be engaged in activities contrary to Catholic teaching. However, prudence recommends that repetitious claims originating from the same sources as in years past be considered with reasonable skepticism based on a consistent track record of misreporting.
“A consistent track record of misreporting”??? We have repeatedly told the CCHD that we are willing to correct the record on any piece of information we have gotten wrong. To date, the CCHD has provided us with no evidence or documentation illustrating that anything we have reported is untrue, misunderstood, or unsubstantiated. To our knowledge, not one of the dozens of reports issued by the Lepanto Institute on CCHD grantees has been disproven, let alone publicly commented on in any meaningful way.
- Any credible allegation is thoroughly investigated by CCHD in partnership with the local diocese. In the case of any group that engages in activities contrary to Catholic teaching, the situation will be rectified quickly, responsibly and charitably in deference to the local Ordinary.
Again, the CCHD states something while providing no evidence. We would like to see a list of any grantees who have lost funding for failing to adhere to grant guidelines in the last five years. We would also like an explanation as to how our reporting is incorrect, and if it is not incorrect, which of those grantees have been made to return their funding.
The Truth About CCHD ends with a call to continue participation in donating to the CCHD. Furthermore, it states, “This work is powerful, healing and restorative and demonstrates Christ’s ability to overcome all that stands in the way of unity and charity.” Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. CCHD funds destruction, violence and division and organizations acting as a roadblock to the Truth of Christ bringing the true liberation of the Gospel to the poor in our country.
And THAT is the honest truth about CCHD.