The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an annual collection that is touted to “help the poor” but has actually been a steady source of revenue for Alinskyian organizing and other progressive, political activity, recently released its 2014-2015 grant list.  It’s a doozy
 
As has been the trend since scandal forced the collection to withhold funding from the now-defunct (rebranded, actually) ACORN, CCHD has increased the percentage of its pie to the Alinskyian community organizing efforts.  The current year shows about 49% ($4,514,000) going into such projects overall, broken down as follows:
 
Total Grants awarded: $9,160,500
 
Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) total: $996,000 – about 11%
PICO total: $1,317,000 – about 14%
Gamaliel total: $751,000 – about 8%
Inter-Valley Project (IVP) total: $195,000 – about 2%
DART total: $695,000 – about 7.5%
Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) total: $290,000 – about 3%
National People’s Action (NPA) total: $270,000 – about 3%
 
A caveat: these figures are conservative.  The affiliates of these various organizing networks are in constant flux, changing their names, developing new organizations, and receiving funding under project titles.  A few are not affiliates but connect to the larger network through training.  It’s laborious to identify all the complex, interlaced connections among these groups and their locals.
 
Therefore the above figures must be understood as an approximate reflection of the CCHD’s spending patterns.
 
A second caveat: $216,000 worth of CCHD grants went to various Catholic Charities offices, which have good, working relationships with the local Alinskyian network affiliates.  Catholic Charities of Buffalo, for example, received a $46,000 CCHD grant for “education.”
 
But it is the diocesan director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo is also the diocesan director of CCHD who oversees local CCHD-funded organizations.[i]  This is also true in the Diocese of Springfield Diocese of Springfield, MA, where the Director Catholic Charities – which received $50,000 grant – also directs the CCHD.  Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metuchen, which received a $55,000 grant, is also the coordinating body for the local CCHD, evaluating, monitoring, funding and assisting “community-based organizations who have submitted proposals of grass-roots community organizing and anti-poverty initiatives”.[ii] 
 
CCHD grants appear to be fungible. 
 
Looking at the Local Picture
 
In the months ahead, we will look more closely at some of CCHD’s grants, demonstrating CCHD’s unwavering commitment to progressive political activism, despite that path’s support of abortion, same-sex marriage, and increased government control of education and the workforce.
 
The first example comes from Las Cruces, New Mexico where Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFÉ) – a chapter of the national PICO network – received a $45,000 CCHD grant.
 
CAFÉ has proved so disturbing to some Las Cruceans that there is a website called “Close the CAFÉ” that is devoted to exposing its seedier aspects.[iii]
 
Objections to CAFÉ fall into several categories.  The most disturbing is that its staff is, or has been, associated with activism that violates Catholic social teachings.  Sarah Nolan, CAFÉ’s executive director, was an organizer for PICO’s San Francisco Organizing Project for five years during a period when SFOP was pushing the pro-abortion Healthy San Francisco and Healthy Kids programs.[iv] 
 
Rabbi Larry Karol, chair of CAFÉ’s 2014 board of directors is “amazed that some people still don’t understand what it means to give Americans freedom to make their own decisions according to their own conscience or their beliefs. The year 2012 alone saw 43 state laws restricting abortion access through the imposition of complex and unnecessary requirements, including mandatory waiting periods and counseling, stricter parental notification guidelines that replaced already-strict rules, invasive ultrasounds, and onerous (and medically superfluous) clinic requirements. .. Because of my tradition, I am required to declare over and over that any public policy defining personhood as beginning at conception stands against my belief.”[v] (emphasis added)
 
Board member Rev. Linda Mervine of 1st Christian Church has publically defended performing same-sex marriages;[vi] Rev. Nancy J. Anderson, Minister Emerita, Unitarian Universalist Church, Las Cruces was a clergy signatory demanding “marriage equity” in New Mexico for same-sex couples;[vii]  Carli Romero, CAFÉ’s Campaign Manager for the Land of Opportunity civic engagement campaign, is also the Regional Director of Shakti Rising of New Mexico that hosted a 2013 “1 in 3 event to bring light and space to the fact that one in 3 women has an abortion in the US,”[viii] in an effort to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion” and “begin to build a culture of compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic health care.”[ix]  Jan Thompson was responsible for organizing a pro-abortion counter rally to protests against the opening of an abortion clinic in Las Cruces.[x]
 
That’s quite a board!
 
That said, CAFÉ’s activism isn’t directed toward abortion or same-sex marriage.  It’s directed toward raising the minimum wage, gun control, and liberal immigration policy.  To achieve these ends, it cultivates progressive political allies – such as Joanne Ferrary, who with her husband Rick, “worked for CAFÉ for a few years, lobbying in Santa Fe on behalf of the minimum wage campaign.”[xi] Joanne Ferrary ran for New Mexico District 37 House of Representatives in 2014 and, for her campaign, received $1000 from late-term abortionist, Dr. Curtis Boyd and $2000 from the pro-abortion Emily’s List. [xii]  Blessedly, she lost.
 
But it was a close vote and is probably not the end of Ferrary’s political ambitions. 
 
Two other CAFÉ-allied political candidates identified by “Close the CAFÉ” are Beth Bardwell and MariaElena Johnson.  Bardwell, who sought election to county commissioner, wrote a letter stating that: “Comprehensive sex education should be available to all adolescents. While prevention is key, abortion is basic health care for women. Any woman wanting to have an abortion should be able to have one safely and with dignity.”[xiii]
 
MariaElena Johnson, who received $2000 from Emily’s List[xiv]while running as Democratic Candidate for New Mexico House District 53 “collaborated with state wide organizations and other CAFe community leaders in organizing multiple actions, lobbying efforts, and engaging youth in civic participation.[xv] Johnson and Bardwell also lost their campaigns but that’s beside the point.
 
Does this mean that CAFÉ is incapable of doing any good?  That’s the wrong question to ask. 
 
The fact is that the people who run CAFÉ operate within a network of political and social activity that doesn’t serve the common good, that doesn’t understand what it means to uphold the dignity of all people, and that fosters a culture of death through its alliances. It doesn’t operate from the perspective of Catholic social teaching but – at best – from an indifferent secular perspective. 
 
Giving Catholic money to such organizations means furthering the very moral blindness that Catholicism exists to eradicate.  
 
The correct question is: what possible reason is there to give these people money? 
 
Citations:
 
[i] Kathleen Johnson, “Catholic Campaign for Human Development review prompts local evaluation,” Western New York Catholic News, 12-16-10.
[ii] Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metuchen webpage: http://www.ccdom.org/social-concerns/catholic-campaign-human-development-cchd
[iii] Close the CAFÉ: www.closethecafe.com
[iv] Patrick Craine, “CCHD, San Fran Archdiocese Supported Abortion-Funding Health Plan,” LifeSite News, 1-6-10: webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FA1b3YhA7igJ:https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cchd-san-fran-archdiocse-supported-abortion-funding-health-plan+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us Nolan left SFOP before this information was made public but would have been working there at the time SFOP was pushing these programs and the clinics associated with them.
[v] Rabbi Larry Karol blog, “Thoughts on Reproductive Choice and Choices,” 1-22-13 (remarks offered at a local event devoted to this issue).
[vi] Video clip: www.tout.com/m/9a6alu
[vii] “Religious leaders back marriage equality push in New Mexico,” Wisconsin Gazette, 5-14-13.
[viii] Carli Romero, FaceBook posting: Aggies for Feminism: www.facebook.com/AggiesForFeminism/posts/371228393009982
[ix] 1 in 3 Campaign: http://www.1in3campaign.org/videos/109#.Ukn-NIYQMXf
[x] Carlos Andres-Lopez, “Pro-Choice Rally Joins Support of Clinic,” Las Cruces Sun News, 9-28-14.
[xi] Progressive Voter Alliance Meeting ReCap, “Integrity Is the Name of the Game at CAFé.” 9-24-14: pva-nm.org/category/meeting-recap/page/2.
[xii] Pastor Dewey Moede, “The Pro-Abortion Money Trail in New Mexico,” 10-29-14.
[xiii] Beth Bardwell, “War against Women,” Silver City Sun News, 7-5-13.
[xiv] Pastor Dewey Moede, “The Pro-Abortion Money Trail in New Mexico,” 10-29-14.
[xv] Emerge New Mexico: Women Leaders for a Democratic Future, “Drum Roll Please, Announcing the Class of 2013,” 2-27-13.

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Spero News columnist Stephanie Block edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequeños newspaper and is the author of the four-volume Change Agents: Alinskyian Organizing Among Religious Bodies, which is available at Amazon.

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