League receives Chicago CCHD grant [Photo by Matt Yonke]
For the past two weeks there has been a swirl of blog posts and articles focusing on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, once again raising the controversy about who CCHD funds or does not fund, and who supports or opposes the process and the grantees.
The Pro-Life Action League was invited by then Chicago CCHD director Rey Flores to apply for a grant for 2010. The League was, of course, happy to seek funding for its sidewalk counseling initiatives, and we were eager to cooperate with the local effort to restore the original mission of CCHD—to attack the root causes of poverty by funding charitable efforts that carry out Catholic Church’s teaching on social justice.
Is the League Losing Its CCHD Grant?
Rey Flores was recently fired from his position at Chicago CCHD. We don’t claim to know why this happened, but the move has spawned much speculation, since he oversaw some changes to the program. In the wake of his departure we have seen several stories stating that the Pro-Life Action League’s grant has been rescinded, that we have been defunded, and that the changes Flores made have been reversed.
However, the Pro-Life Action League has not been notified of any change to either the program or to the grant it was awarded. We received half of the grant in September and are due to receive the last installment in January.
Setting the Record Straight
I’d like to set the record straight. As part of the process of receiving a grant, each organization submits extensive financial reports and descriptions of its mission and its particular project. We then were all required to attend several meetings.
At the first meeting of the various grantees, a representative from each ministry spoke briefly about its work. I attended this meeting on behalf of the League. Every one of the organizations there does important and difficult work, from getting male prostitutes off the streets, to empowering women to start small businesses, to helping immigrant day laborers get a fare wage and decent working conditions, to aiding families to overcome domestic abuse.
For the first time, two networks of crisis pregnancy centers — Aid for Women and the Women’s Center — and the Pro-Life Action League were among the grantees. My sense as we all sat around a large conference table at the Cardinal Meyer Center was that this was truly the Church at its best—each of us working in our own niche to bring hope to those people who often live with despair.
CCHD Denies Pro-Life Grants in Jeopardy
I am saddened to see so much division in the ranks of the Catholic faithful in connection with the Campaign for Human Development. I believe that all involved in the controversy have the best intentions, but attacking one another is blatantly un-Christian.
Some are calling for a boycott of the CCHD collection. As a grantee, I naturally would not like to see this. Those claiming that Pro-Life Action League has been defunded have not checked with us. But we have checked with the Chicago CCHD office and are assured that there are no plans to deny the Pro-Life Action League the rest of the grant it was awarded. Other pro-life awardees also report that they have no reason to think their grants are in jeopardy.
Promoting Peace within the Church
I spoke on behalf of the CCHD collection last weekend at a Chicago parish. My presentation, which highlighted several ministries, but focused in more detail on our own mission, was well received. I have also spoken with some of the folks who are most often cited as opposing us and have found that they don’t have any problem with our grant or that of the crisis pregnancy centers.
Let’s try to promote peace and justice within our own Catholic family. Rumors and accusations don’t help. Listening, understanding and real communication do. I think Jesus would want us to work together as we pray in unison, “Thy Kingdom come.”