Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reform CCHD Now? Sifting Through the Hyperbole and Getting to the Truth

A controversy over participation in two liberal social action groups by the U.S. bishops’ conference and one of its top executives is focusing attention on the perils associated with a familiar Washington institution: the coalition. Coalitions with public policy agendas are a way of life for organizations in the nation’s capital. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has lately been reminded, however, this way of life involves certain ambiguities and risks, with guilt by association high among the latter. The current controversy erupted when several conservative groups took umbrage at the fact that John Carr, head of USCCB’s social development and peace office, played a leadership role in a coalition called the Center for Community Change, which the conservatives accused of promoting abortion and homosexuality. Carr says he severed ties with the center five years ago, and up to then it had no connection with such issues. Calling themselves the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, the conservatives also complained that 31 of 150 organizations in the Center for Community Change coalition had received grants from the CCHD—the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Russell Shaw has been looking into these charges and has a report.

Below is a youtube playlist of the Russell Shaw interview.


  1. Al, thanks for this interview. I listened intently. Mr. Shaw reiterated reasoning I have heard before. It sounded old and lukewarm. But my point is beyond this. When I give to a Catholic organization, I expect my resources will be used by Catholics in a Catholic effort. Why is the CCHD acting like a bundler? If I wanted to give to a secular charity I would. Our charity should not be divorced from evangelization and now I realize that our shepherds disagree. I am disheartened by this. Where are the Catholic missionaries, the 'boots on the ground', whom I can support?

  2. Does the USCCB provide a clear witness to Christ’s teaching?
    I am inclined to say no. I know many family members who insist that they are Catholic and yet they practice contraception, disagree with church teaching on homosexuality, and believe that abortion is not an issue that the Church should be messing with. I think the example of the USCCB departs from clear Catholic teaching and enables my family members to continue living in ignorance and error.

  3. Anonymous (the second),

    I struggle mightily with the topic of the USCCB in general. There are the Traditionalists who almost don't even acknowledge the body. Then there are those who don't listen to the USCCB anyway, and they typically don't even listen to the Church otherwise. But when I personally take a look at the entity I see some good that could come out of a body of united Christian Bishops. Like so many things in our lives the ideal is so beautiful, and the real is just a marred shadow on the wall of a grimy cave.

    However, there isn't a better witness to your family than yourself. We're an "educated" society unlike anything the world has ever seen. The Romans of old, to whom we're sometimes compared in our decadence and indifference, were not so similar to us to be a valid comparison, in my opinion. And we left the Middle Ages about 400 years ago. This is the time more than ever for you to be the witness of Christ and His Church to those whom you love.

    It's so difficult to get that message across with words that I'll just have to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you to that truth. God bless.

    Matthew Wade