Some of you may wonder why this blog is requesting a boycott of the Campaign for Human Development (CHD). You may say that it’s a sensational (as in ‘outrageous’) move. I can assure you that there is nothing remotely sensational about a boycott. What I can tell you is that a boycott stops money flow — and, quite simply, money talks. Stop the money and people suddenly ask why.
The late and much admired Revd Richard John Neuhaus who, among his accomplishments, edited First Things, posted a column there just over a year ago entitled ‘Obama and the Bishops’. In it, he discusses the CHD. Numerous blogs have carried this article, which bears reiterating in part here (emphasis mine below). Churchmouse Campanologist and other blogs have also revealed useful information about this 40-year old campaign, the 2009 collection for which falls on November 21 – 22.
American Catholic bishops — the USCCB — owe the faithful an explanation. Many do not appear to be leading their dioceses in any real way. Some have participated in coverups of serious sexual sin. Most stayed silent about the Notre Dame debacle earlier this year. Others languish on the sidelines with regard to actively promoting and defending the doctrines of the Church. Instead, they appear to be in a spiritual tropic of torpor. They owe the faithful an apology and an explanation for what appears to be indifference. Before he died, Fr Neuhaus took the bishops to task and included the controversial CHD in his discussion.
Fr Neuhaus discussed the obligations of Roman Catholic bishops during the 2008 Presidential race in the US:
Not all bishops covered themselves with honor in the doing of their duty. Ignoring their further duty to protect the integrity of the Eucharist and defend against the faithful’s being led into confusion, temptation, and sin by skandolon, some bishops issued statements explaining why they had no intention of addressing the problem of public figures who claim they are Catholics in good standing despite their consistent rejection of the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human lives. Some such bishops took the position that publicly doing or saying anything that addressed that very public problem would be viewed as controversial, condemned as politically partisan, and misconstrued by those hostile to the Church. Therefore, they explained, they were doing and saying nothing except to say why they were doing and saying nothing. Such calculated timidity falls embarrassingly short of the apostolic zeal exemplified by the apostles whose successors the bishops are. Fortunately, these timorous shepherds seem to be in the minority among the bishops.
About the mixing of politics and religion from a bishop’s perspective, he says:
In the presidential and other races, Catholics voted for pro-abortion candidates. So what? It is not the business of bishops to win political races. It is the business of bishops to defend and teach the faith, including the Church’s moral doctrine …
Earlier this year, the bishops issued ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship’. It was, as I wrote at the time, a fine statement in almost every respect. But its elaborate attention to nuance and painstaking distinctions made it a virtual invitation for the Catholic flaks of Obama to turn it upside down and inside out. The statement was regularly invoked to justify voting for the most extreme proponent of the unlimited abortion license in American presidential history.
That unintended invitation to distort, eagerly seized upon by those with a mind to do so, was especially evident in the statement’s treatment of a ‘proportionate’ reason to support pro-abortion candidates. The bishops must do better next time. To be sure, any statement must be carefully reasoned, as Catholic moral theology is carefully reasoned. Yet an episcopal statement is not an invitation to an academic seminar but, above all, a call to faithfulness. The task is to offer a firm, unambiguous, and, as much as possible, a persuasive case on the basis of revelation and clear reason.
Bishops and all of us need to catch the vision of John Paul II that the Church imposes nothing, she only proposes. But what she proposes she believes is the truth, and because human beings are hard-wired for the truth, the truth imposes. And truth obliges.
Then, Fr Neuhaus focuses on the CHD:
It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.
Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians … In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.
Please note the following paragraph and circulate it — even for a second or third time – to people who aren’t aware of or who deny the awful truth about the CHD:
What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.
Even Fr Neuhaus advocated a boycott!
My advice is to either give your CHD money to a worthy Catholic institution of your choice or to another charity which espouses Christian values (e.g. Salvation Army). Certainly, that choice is yours to make. However, there are many unknown organisations in the CHD list. Do you know what they support and what activities they engage in?
In closing, perhaps you have seen the following two-minute video (thanks to Mary Ann Kreitzer) which will tell you where your CHD donations have been going to date. Please circulate — again, if necessary: