Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Catholic anti-poverty program under fire

The US Catholic Bishops will meet next week in Baltimore. One of the items on the agenda is the anti-poverty program called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Some bishops say the program is funding projects that are not in line with Catholic doctrine and have stopped taking collections for the program.

From this Religion News Service article that we found at the Huffington Post, writer Daniel Burke tells us what the controversy is about.

As the U.S. bishops' flagship anti-poverty program, the CCHD is funded through a special collection taken up each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Since 1970, the program has disbursed $290 million in grants, according to CCHD officials.

But the program's practices and guiding philosophy have been sharply attacked by conservatives armed with Internet-enhanced research, a sharp nose for malfeasance, and a deep apprehension for anything that sniffs of socialism.

At the bishops' meeting in Baltimore, CCHD officials will present a 15-page report that details reforms they say will bolster the program's Catholic identity. The new policies will also ensure that groups whose activities conflict with the church's stance on social issues do not receive funding, they said.

Last June, a coalition called Reform the CCHD Now sent a report to bishops in all 195 dioceses detailing accusations against nearly 50 groups that it says engaged in pursuits "antithetical to church teaching."

The CCHD acknowledged such errors at five of the 270 groups that received funding in 2009; a sixth group's contract was not renewed for the same reason, said John Carr, executive director of the bishops' social justice office. The other allegations were unfounded, he said.

The vast majority of CCHD grants went to programs such as one in San Antonio that has attracted more than $1 billion for public projects in low-income neighborhoods, according to the report. Such projects, the report implies, are endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in 2009 that the "institutional path" of charity is "no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbor directly."

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