Catholics cite ACORN misuse of funds

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed voter fraud group takes a hit

Citing a recent scandal involving grants made to a group accused of engaging in partisan political activity and alleged voter registration fraud, as well as what they say is a history of funding organizations unfriendly to the faith, some Catholics are urging the faithful not to give money to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during a special annual collection planned at parishes across the country this weekend.

A flyer entitled “Notice to ALL Catholics” planned for distribution at some California parishes on Saturday and Sunday cites CCHD contributions to the group ACORN, currently under investigation for voter registration fraud in 13 states. On Nov. 11, Bishop Roger Morin, an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New Orleans who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee overseeing the CCHD, announced that all funding to ACORN had been terminated, even though an ongoing investigation had yet to determine whether CCHD grants to ACORN had been used for fraudulent voter registration.

In July, Bishop Morin announced the CCHD was suspending funding to ACORN because of the embezzlement of $1 million by the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. An audit ordered by the bishop found that no money from the CCHD had been involved in the embezzlement, he told his fellow bishops during their meeting in Baltimore earlier this month.

Critics, however, say the CCHD gave more than $1 million to ACORN in 2007 and, over the past 10 years, has contributed more than $7 million to the group – while Bishop Morin admitted in the Nov. 11 press conference that it was virtually impossible for the CCHD to discover exactly how its funds were used by ACORN because CCHD money had been co-mingled with money from other funding sources.

Opponents of giving to the Nov. 22-23 special collection for the CCHD also charge that it gives money on a regular basis to left-wing community organizations that, while claiming to help the poor, also promote abortion and homosexual rights in contradiction of Church teachings.

"The CCHD, which is run by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has funded far-left organizations with missions diametrically opposed to that of the Catholic Church for years, including, in the '90s, the pro-abortion group National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union," says the Oregon-based group VOCAL (Voice of Catholics Advocating Life), which is also encouraging Catholics not to donate to CCHD.

According to Jim Fritz of the group Defenders of the Faith, “The poor are not helped by the liberal community organizers who are funded by the CCHD. Millions of your dollars have gone to fund ACORN and other mismanaged organizations.” Fritz was among many Catholics who signed an open letter from the Catholic Media Coalition to U.S. bishops earlier this month calling for major reforms in the way CCHD funds are dispersed.

“We respectfully call on the Conference of Bishops to reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) so that it truly aids the poor instead of channeling money into liberal groups that work with those advancing abortion, same-sex marriage, and other moral evils,” said the letter. “It is a serious wrong that Catholics in the pew who believe their donations help the poor are unknowingly funding a leftwing liberal agenda that opposes the dignity of the human person.”

Despite such misgivings, however, Bishop Morin issued a statement on Nov. 18 through the USCCB press office urging Catholics to continue their support for the CCHD. "The current economic situation is squeezing everyone in our country,” said the bishop. “For some of us, that means more careful planning when we take the car to do errands, cutting back on restaurant dinners, and postponing discretionary purchases. For millions of Americans who live on the edge of poverty in the best of times, it means making wrenching choices every month about feeding their families, paying their rent, and getting necessary medical care. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development helps the working poor and others who are trying to keep their heads above these turbulent waters. In the name of all of the Catholics in the United States, CCHD fights poverty and challenges injustice."

As far as the ACORN scandal is concerned, the press release said, “Recently, questions have arisen regarding CCHD's past funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Due to misuse of funds by ACORN, CCHD did not give any funds to ACORN in 2008, and did not accept requests for 2009. In light of further allegations of political partisanship on the part of ACORN, the CCHD Subcommittee of bishops, in keeping with its guidelines, ended all funding to ACORN at its recent meeting.”

Bishop Morin added, "I want to reassure the Catholic community that our Bishops' Subcommittee is vigilant in assuring that the resources of CCHD are well used. More importantly, I want to thank our Catholic people for their steadfast support of CCHD, and urge them to continue to give generously when the CCHD collection is taken up in their parishes."


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