“A little bit too dismissive”
LINCOLN, Nebraska, November 24, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska explained in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com today his reasons for dropping the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection in his diocese, saying that CCHD head Bishop Roger Morin was "a little bit too dismissive" of concerns brought against the organization.
Bishop Bruskewitz is one of five bishops confirmed so far to have chosen not to take up the collection this year for the national CCHD, the USCCB’s domestic anti-poverty arm. The others included Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Florida; Bishop John O. Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania; Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin; and Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama. In addition, at least three other U.S. bishops have called for reform of the CCHD.
"We question the ideology of [CCHD]," the bishop explained in the interview, "and … we are shocked at the scandalous participation with the ACORN organization and also the participation with other organizations of questionable moral values or standards."
The organization came under fire in the months leading up to this past weekend’s national collection due to reports documenting how numerous grantees have promoted or are promoting activities contrary to Church teaching, including abortion, contraception, and same-sex "marriage." In fact, the Reform CCHD Now coalition announced last week that $1.3 million is allocated to questionable groups. Additionally, critics have charged CCHD with favoring "left-leaning" groups in the spirit of infamous community organizer Saul Alinksy.
CCHD ceased funding ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a liberal network of community activism groups, last year due to concerns about "financial management" and "political partisanship." CCHD had given ACORN over $7 million in grants during the previous ten years. ACORN came under renewed scrutiny this year after sting operations caught several ACORN offices condoning child prostitution and sex trafficking.
"It’s so extremely controversial," the bishop said about CCHD. There have been "many negative resonances about it from people throughout the diocese and beyond the diocese," he said, adding that the "controversial character made it appear that [CCHD] was not effective" in meeting its purposes.
His diocese doesn’t "rule [CCHD] out entirely," he said, but he would only reconsider the collection if there were "some changes in the organization itself, or its purposes, or its goals."
The collection "served very little purpose for us," he said, noting that the Lincoln diocese has not received funds from CCHD. "We do have a very extensive Catholic Social Services, St. Vincent de Paul activity here in the diocese," he said, "which supplies the needs of those who are impoverished, of those who need assistance to come out of poverty."
Bishop Roger Morin, chairman of the USCCB’s subcommittee on the CCHD, delivered a passionate plea in defense of the organization at last week’s USCCB plenary meeting. While pledging their commitment to ensure grantees’ respect for Catholic teaching, he decried the "outrageous" allegations made by CCHD’s critics that it funds pro-abortion or anti-family organizations.
But Bishop Bruskewitz expressed displeasure with Bishop Morin’s report, saying the bishop did not adequately consider the criticisms brought against the CCHD.
"I didn’t think [the report] took into account sufficiently the negatives that have been bantered about with regard to the organization," he said. He said Bishop Morin was "obviously defending the organization he had been involved in different areas," and now for which he’s the chairman.
The report, further, "lacked some of the interests" that concerned people "have brought to the fore," he said. "I think he was perhaps a little bit too dismissive of them."
Nevertheless, he maintained that he has "no objection" to people supporting CCHD should they choose. If "people [who] like this organization … want to send money to it, even from my diocese, they can," he said. "But I’m not going to take up the collection."