It's that time of year again: the USCCB is hitting us up for donations to the Campaign for Human Development.
But are your contributions going to help spread the Gospel? Are you helping to support a seminarian, or a retired priest or religious? Are you sending rosaries or Bibles to the missions? Are you providing food or medical attention to starving children?
Look at the list of CHD donees, and check out some of their websites. There seem to be a few good things sprinkled here and there, like teaching people to read or vocational training. But the main purpose of many of them seems to be to promote "activism;" their websites are full of pictures of people marching and carrying signs and bullhorns. In fact, last year, all but 29 of CHD's 308 donees came under the heading of "Community Organizing."
And one of the CHD's biggest donees is one whose misdeeds have finally attracted the national and official attention they have so richly deserved for so long. In 2007, the CHD granted a total of $996,000 to 37 branches of the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN). Yes, the very same that is under investigation by the FBI for voter fraud. It is now just four days since the USCCB announced that it is cutting off all funding to ACORN, based on embezzlement within the organization and its "alleged" involvement in voter fraud.
But what about all the other activities the CHD helps to support? Consider just a few of the organizations that have received grants from the Campaign for Human Development, and ask yourself if they are spreading the Gospel or politics -- or something even worse:
-- Alliance to Develop Power (formerly the Anti-Displacement Project). A left-wing organization that supports, among other things, universal health care. ADP received a grant $30,000 grant from CHD in 2007.
-- Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. Boasts a "Center for Arts for Activism," in which youth are introduced to "the [undefined] concepts of oppression, justice, peace and violence, and worldwide struggles for freedom." It also promotes, among other things, New Age practices like reiki, yoga and meditation. The YMPJ received a $25,000.00 grant from CHD in 2007.
-- Green Worker Cooperatives. Dedicated to stamping out something called "environmental racism." It received a $35,000.00 grant from CDH in 2007.
-- Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. Promotes political activism among seminarians, rabbinical students, and other training for leadership positions in their various communions. It received a $25,000.00 grant from CDH in 2007.
-- Idaho Community Action Network. Committed to "progressive social change," including, among other things, universal health care. A leading light in something called "Night of 1000 Conversations," in which participants somberly meditated upon Iowa immigration raids and undertook to change the world by sending "pledge cards" to the Department of Homeland Security. ICAN, whose website features a banner picture of some very obese concerned citizens, lists one of its issues as "food security." Though ostensibly dedicated to human rights, ICAN appears totally unconcerned about our eroding right to private property that is key to individual liberty. ICAN received a $40,000.00 grant from CDH in 2007.
Is all this true empowerment? Is turning everything into politics a real solution to poverty and distress? or is it merely another incarnation of bread and circuses -- and, incidentally, a way to line the pockets of demagogues? In what sense is political activism not a distraction from the Church's true mission to go out and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? We hear a lot of talk about the number of poor people who could have been fed with the money that was spent on a statue or a chalice; but what about all the people to whom the Good News could have been brought by the $996,000.00 that ACORN got in 2007?
The poor we will always have with us. But at least we can quit compounding their material poverty with spiritual poverty. And we can quit giving money to organizations that merely distract the poor from their problems by getting them involved in politics.