The U.S. bishops' social justice arm has cut funding to a New York-based AIDS charity after the group was discovered to have lied about its adherence to Catholic teaching.
The Campaign for Catholic and Human Development announced that it had dissociated with the NYC Aids Housing Network after allegations surfaced that the group distributes condoms.
“Just to clarify, when CCHD funded the group, the group was totally in line with CCHD criteria and guidelines,” the U.S. bishops' conference said in an Oct. 19 post on Facebook. “It is the more recent reports that they distribute condoms that would make them ineligible for the future funding. The group did not reapply for funding once their grant ended.”
The conference issued several statements in response to questions posed on its Facebook page by readers concerned about the Catholic Campaign's funding practices.
Attempts by CNA to obtain additional reaction from Catholic Campaign officials did not receive a response.
Michael Hichborn of the Reform CCHD Now Coalition pointed CNA to the activist group's extensive 2010-2011 report on CCHD funding, which added the NYC Aids Housing Network to its list of offenders last month.
The news comes within a year of the campaign's launch of a “review and renewal” program in October of 2010, which acknowledged mistakes and pledged to uphold “Catholic principles” in all future decisions.
Bishop Roger Morin, then-chairman of the CCHD subcommittee, said on Oct. 26, 2010 that steps were being taken to ensure Catholic morality would be upheld in the fight against poverty.
Bishop Morin stressed the importance of the campaign, which he said complements other forms of poverty relief and Catholic action. But he acknowledged that some of its funding choices and associations were made in error, and had caused some Catholics -- including some bishops -- to question its work.
Despite the reform coalition's criticism, however, the U.S. bishops' conference maintains that it acted swiftly and effectively in this latest situation.
“We take any allegation that Catholic funds are being misused, very seriously,” the conference said. “As for NYC Aids Housing Network, during the time it was funded by CCHD, the organization went through the same rigorous vetting process that included the support of the bishop.”
“If at any point the dioceses or CCHD had found evidence that the organization was in any way involved with condom distribution, the grant would have been immediately canceled,” the statement added. “There was no evidence of this. NYC Aids Housing's CCHD grant expired in June of 2011. In the future, NYC Aids Housing Network would not be eligible for CCHD funding.”