Friday, October 31, 2008

UPDATE! ATTN US Catholics - From Your Collection to ACORN?

Did you realize that if you put money into the collection plate last year at Thanksgiving for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, you gave money to ACORN?

According to a new article which appears in the current issue of the National Catholic Register:

Starting in 2007 as ACORN ramped up its voter registration drive, the Catholic Campaign also ramped up its support for ACORN, awarding ACORN 37 grants totaling at least $1,037,000 — more than double the dollar amount in any one of the previous three years.

In June 2008, the Catholic Campaign authorized $1.2 million in grants, according to a memo obtained by the Register and issued by Bishop Roger Morin, chairman of the Catholic Campaign subcommittee. The memo says 38 ACORN groups were set to receive the money. Ralph McCloud, Catholic Campaign for Human Development executive director, said he did not know what accounted for the higher funding levels.

The 2008 grants were put on hold this summer due to a separate ACORN scandal unrelated to voter fraud. Bishop Morin confirmed to the Register that all Catholic Campaign contributions to ACORN are now on hold.

Am I the only one who is more than a bit alarmed to learn this? I was reading my latest copy of the National Catholic Register and found the article on the front page. I nearly choked on my coffee and I assure you, my interest in learning more about the Campaign for Human Development and who receives grants from the committee and why.

I am sending an e-mail to whomever receives the mail at CCHD and would like to be assured that my money will not end up in the shallow-pocketed and corrupt program. Unlike the fruit which drops from the mighty oak, this ACORN is seeding corruption.

In the US, the collection is typically taken on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I hope to be reassured that the committee will do a bit of research prior to awarding grants. I have already considered giving what we normally would to the campaign to Catholic Charities instead. I know where the money from Catholic Charities goes in western New York state. Then there is always St. Luke's Mission of Mercy. Perhaps we'll help them out this Thanksgiving.


*And now for a bit of an unsolicited advertisement: I love receiving my weekly edition of the National Catholic Register. I have no stake in the newspaper, but have faithfully subscribed to NCR and Faith and Family for years. If you want orthodox Catholic teachings coupled with news which affects Catholics throughout the world without filtering through the secular media, consider a subscription. If your local Catholic school sells magazine subscriptions as part of a fund raising effort, please check to see if they sell them.*



I am not prone to sitting around complaining and prefer to be a person of action. After publishing the preceding blog entry, I decided I had to make the CCHD aware of my concerns. I sent them an e-mail, followed by one to my dear Bishop, the Most Reverend Edward Kmiec and a 'heads up' e-mail to my Pastor - just in case he received messages about the 'troublemaker in his parish'.

I received almost immediately a reply from Rev. Msgr. Joseph J. Sicari on behalf of my Bishop:


Bishop Kmiec forwarded your e-mail to me, and asked me to respond to you.

We are grateful for your support of our diocese, and your gracious words regarding the leadership of Bishop Kmiec. Also, thank you for sharing the correspondence you sent to the National CCHD office.

When an organization applies for CCHD funding, they are to attest to the fact that the monies they are receiving, and the purpose for which it is being used "Must conform to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church."

Obviously, in light of the ACORN situation, they will have to re-evaluate how they monitor these organizations. To that end, they have formed a sub-committee chaired by Bishop Roger Morin. A memo from Bishop Morin is on the National CCHD web page.

Again, thank you for stating your concerns, and hopefully CCHD will be able to continue to support vital programs that are in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

May God continue to bless you and yours.

Rev. Msgr. Joseph J. Sicari

Thanks to Msgr. Sicari's message, I found the letter by Bishop Morin on the CCHD website which was addressed to all US Bishops. You will find it here. To Bishop Morin's credit, he explained the process of funding various organizations more clearly than any news article or even the CCHD has offered. A portion of the letter is as follows:

In addition to this funding suspension, the CCHD Subcommittee and staff are taking anumber of other specific steps to address this situation involving ACORN:

-- I have appointed and chair a special task force within the Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee to review and act on this situation.

-- CCHD and the USCCB have secured the services of specialists in forensic accounting to help us determine if any CCHD money was taken or misused. This investigation is thorough, serious and ongoing. We have also sought additional outside expertise to help us assess organizational, accountability and other issues related to ACORN.

-- CCHD, USCCB staff and I, as chair, have met with ACORN leaders and others to express our serious concerns and to seek answers to specific questions. This process is also thorough and ongoing.

-- We are also consulting with CCHD Diocesan Directors to review these matters and discuss their experience with local ACORN groups and the quality and impact of their work in low-income communities.

I am pleased immeasurably that this matter is being dealt with and the CCHD being held accountable. It is my hope that lessons have been learned and that the same sort of problems will not be revisited again.

Pray for our Bishops.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh man! I too had no idea. I just thought that if I gave at the cuhurch that all monies would go to purely Catholic organizations. I did not know that said monies were sent 'out of house' so to speak. I will have to look further into the various groups that ask for our donations. Maybe I will just give to the parish and send extra to charities I have researched. I was very disheartened to read your blog, but it opened my eyes. Diligence and discernment always in all things. Thanks