This year’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection will be taken up on the weekend of Nov. 16-17.
Despite the letters and reports I get questioning the Catholic integrity of the campaign’s work, I fully support the CCHD and its mission. I have personally looked into the complaints I have received, as has the bishops’ committee that oversees the CCHD. I have found that in the few cases where grantees have engaged in a partisan political agenda or been involved in activities contrary to Church teaching, steps have quickly been taken to distance the campaign from those efforts.
The CCHD is an institution of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It supports initiatives through mediating structures (i.e., not necessarily Catholic institutions) to bring into the public square essential elements of Catholic social justice teaching, such as the support for human life and dignity, participation and priority for the poor, subsidiarity and solidarity.
CCHD assesses every potential grantee for the quality of its work as well as the requirement that its actions do not conflict with Catholic teaching. No grant is awarded without the local bishop’s signature. I can assure you that when I receive the annual list of recommended grants, I have my staff vet them thoroughly.
The fact of the matter is that CCHD has, over the years, done a tremendous amount of good: This is charity in action. Today, members of our local communities are suffering from poverty in overwhelming numbers. Just visit the Dorothy Day Center some evening, as I have, and you will witness the plight we face.
According to the latest Census Bureau information, 1 in 10 Minnesotans lives in poverty due in large measure to the continuing recession that has left so many out of work.
In total numbers, more Americans fall below the poverty line than at any time since 1959 when the Census began tracking such numbers. And, worst of all, 1 in 6 Minnesota children today are living in poverty. Overnight shelters and food shelves simply cannot keep up with the demand. More of a response is definitely needed to create systematic change.
CCHD funds are used to support local, self-help, anti-poverty organizations here and across the country in an effort to break the cycle of poverty. Nearly all the funds collected are used for this purpose. The work of CCHD, then, complements the Catholic Church’s many charitable programs in seeking to meet the needs of the poor.
And I assure you that these organizations are screened to ensure that they do not engage in activities that contradict Church teaching.
A year ago, our nation’s bishops strongly endorsed a “Review and Renewal” that emphasized the centrality of Catholic identity in the work of CCHD. Its mission is to support the common good and to respond to the real needs of our neighbor.
All in all, I ask you to support the CCHD collection on Nov. 16-17.
God bless you!