Despite new CCHD guidelines that disqualify any organization participating in or promoting activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church or working “against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' priorities to defend human life and dignity, strengthen family life and the institution of marriage, and foster diversity,” Somos Un Pueblo Unidoreceived $45,000.00 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s (CCHD) 2010 disbursement.[i]
While the CCHD grant was awarded to Somos Un Pueblo Unidofor working on immigrant rights, the group has engaged in other advocacy, as well.For instance, the Tides Foundation has a special set of grant awards that it distributes through its Tides Reproductive Justice Fund. Its funding goals are designed expressly and solely to further universal abortion “rights” and full access to contraceptive and “family planning” materials via mobilization of national and local “reproductive justice” groups.One Tides Foundation document explains: “RJ [reproductive justice] groups continue to be the primary advocates building the leadership and engagement of youth on this issue and pushing for implementation that is culturally competent and inclusive/non-stigmatizing of teen moms and LGBT youth.
One example is Young Women United in NM, which conducted 500 peer surveys, held a press conference to release sex ed report cards for 11 Albuquerque Public high schools, and moved the majority of high schools in the city to adopt curriculum that does not stigmatize young parents….To date, YWU has met with all APS high schools and the majority have committed to working together to shift the language used in school curriculum. YWU continues to build stronger relationships with the school board and coalition partners (New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition, NM Planned Parenthood, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Kalpulli Izkalli, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, etc.) in efforts to work together to best meet the state standards and benchmarks.”[ii] (emphasis added)
As the Tides Docket indicates,Somos Un Pueblo Unido is part of the Young Women United coalition[iii] and Young Women United is a high Tides Reproductive Justice Fund priority, receiving $35,000 grant in 2009.[iv]The Tides Docket explains how immigrant advocacy intersects with reproductive justice issues: “The reproductive rights of immigrant women cannot be separated from the context of an intensifying crackdown on immigrants, which is creating fear and repression in their communities….promotoras and other community health educators who are often a lifeline for immigrant communities – bringing women important information about reproductive health and connecting them to local clinics – are blocked from doing their work. For years they have gone door to door in communities, but now people do not answer because they are terrified it might be the INS coming to take a family member away. Women, documented or not, are too scared to venture out of the house to clinics for reproductive health services. And for those brave enough to go to a clinic, there are other barriers – a lack of cultural competency among providers, and language barriers that force many women to pull their small children out of school to help translate their reproductive health concerns to their doctor. All of this results in poor reproductive health outcomes.”[v]
The Catalyst Fund initiative is another Tides Foundation grant strategy to promote “reproductive justice,” particularly as it affects “women of color.”[vi] Catalyst grant-making partners include the New Mexico Community Foundation; Catalyst grantees for 2009 include members of the New Mexico Community Foundation – one of which is Somos un Pueblo Unido.[vii]
As a part of the Young Women United coalition,Somos Un Pueblo Unido is part of a “fierce group of revolutionary women! …[who] look to advance women of color leadership, shift power, and build our own community institutions by and for us. …We have succeeded when...Service providers and state government have adopted language and policies that are supportive of reproductive justice and rights.”[viii]
One foundation describes Young Women United as created by young women of color and allies to change the relations of power in Albuquerque. YWU members seek to reduce violence, improve health, and build power in their communities through public education, organizing and advocacy. YWU is nationally recognized for their leadership in the fight for comprehensive sexuality education in New Mexico.”[ix]
Somos un Pueblo Unido was a voting participant in the 2006 National Latino Congreso in which Resolution 4.12 - Endorsement of No on Prop 85 Campaign – was passed unanimously.[x]Proposition 85 was a California Parental Notification Initiative that would have required parental notification before a minor could have an abortion.
A February 11, 2011 “1000 Women March” wasorganized by a number of groups, among them Somos Un Pueblo Unido and its coalition partner, Young Women United.One participant reported: “Then YWU broke into three groups to meet with representatives to discuss,” among other things, “ Reproductive rights: clinics that offer pregnancy testing and pressure women to put babies up for adoption, at least not have abortions.”[xi]
Through coalition membership in the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance,[xii] together with Equality New Mexico, two networks dedicated to homosexual rights activism, Somos un Pueblo Unido worked against the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops efforts to support a statewide Defense of Marriage Act.[xiii]
Somos un Pueblo Unido is a member of the New Mexico Human Rights Coalition.[xiv]In 2005, the Coalition opposed a bill that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. [xv]
New Mexico Community Foundation has given Somos one of its Women Building Community Grants.[xvi] Women Building Community grants are awarded to foster “hands-on technical assistance, leadership training and networking opportunities to assist grantees in determining their own direction for creating lasting solutions for social justice and change.” Recent Women Building Community-supported nonprofit projects included a project to address “the need for and connections between reproductive justice and the media.”Somos un Pueblo Unido programs, Women Building Community materials say, help“Immigrant women learn to advocate for their families and effect change on a range of issues from fair and safe work environments, equal access to health care, reproductive justice.”[xvii]
Given this rather overwhelming evidence that Somos un Pueblo Unido is absolutely participating in and promoting activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Santa Fe – who, like every other bishop, must approve all awards in his diocese – and CCHD saw no difficulty in funding Somos un Pueblo Unido.Why not?
One answer – since local CCHD critics have been discussing Somos un Pueblo Unido’s anti-Catholic positions for years and the Archdiocese has received copies of all these critiques – may be that Somo Somos un Pueblo Unido has something to offer that, in their eyes, negates its offenses against CCHD guidelines.Early in September 2011, Anne Avellone, director of the office of Social Justice and Respect Life for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, sent her activist list a flyer and accompanying email that ended with the italicized warning in bold green: “Please don’t print this unless you really need to!”
The flier that she didn’t want in the wrong hands was for an “Immigrant Day of Action: Protest at the Capitol” in Santa Fe.“Everyone in New Mexico needs a license!” the flier cries, referring to efforts to revoke the ability of undocumented workers to get state drivers licenses.“Let's stand up against the Governor’s continued attacks on our families and community!”[xviii] Event sponsors included Somos Un Pueblo Unidoand the Conference of Catholic Bishops of New Mexico.
One concludes that CCHD has fixed priorities that no reformed guidelines or moral complexities are going to change.
Stephanie Block is a Spero columnist who also edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspapers. She is a member of the Catholic Media Coalition.
[i] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, Department of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, 2010 Grantee List: www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/grants/upload/cchd-grantees-2010.pdf; Somos un Pueblo Unido also received $25,000 in the 2004-2005 grant period, and $30,000 in 2005-2006 from CCHD.
[ii] Tides Foundation: Tides Reproductive Justice Fund, Fall 2009 Docket (Public) www.scribd.com/doc/29459478/Tides-Reproductive-Justice-Fund-Fall-2009-Docket-Public
[iii] Somos Un Pueblo Unidois listed under the “Local Affiliates, Networks, Coalitions, Collaboratives and Allies” heading of the Young Women United “Movement Building” webpage: www.youngwomenunited.org/whatwedo/movebuilding.html
[iv] Fall 2009 Docket … Priority Scoring Sheet for 2009; Fall 2009 Action Sheet, p.12-13.
[v] Fall 2009 Docket …pp 3-4.
[vi] Korwin Consulting team, “The Catalyst Fund and the Reproductive Movement: Catalyzing Support for Women of Color-led Reproductive Justice Efforts Nationwide,” 2009, p.iii.
[vii] “The Catalyst Fund …,” pp. 50-51
[xi] C. Arellano, “1000 Women March,” Home(y)Lands Blog, 2-16-11.
[xiii] Trip Jennings, “Catholic Church flexes muscles in domestic partnership debate,” New Mexico Independent, 2-23-09: “[T]he state’s largest religious institution has weighed in against a bill that would confer many of the rights married couples enjoy to both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples. An Archdiocese of Santa Fe spokesman inveighed against the bill at this year’s primary legislative hearing on the bill as Archbishop Michael Sheehan sat a few feet away, making for a very visible presence…. Deacon Steve Rangel, who speaks for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops on the issue…. told state lawmakers that the church had waded into the debate this year because court decisions in other states displayed how domestic partnerships can ultimately lead to same-sex marriage.”
[xvi] New Mexico Community Foundation, Women Building Community Grants: www.nmcf.org/impact/womens-lives/women-building-community
[xvii] New Mexico Community Foundation: www.nmcf.org/new/impact/womens-lives/somos-un-pueblo-unido (no longer online).
[xviii] Somos un Pueblo Unidoflier: www.somosunpueblounido.org/Documents/sept8_flier_003.pdf