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Monday, November 29, 2010

Are Catholic Charities Really Catholic?

There once was a time when Catholics could put their envelopes in a special collection for one of the bishops' charities confident that the money would be spent in accordance with Catholic teaching. That time, unfortunately, is long past. And, in fact, some charities, like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) have, from their inception, supported organizations working in direct opposition to the faith. One would like to think that CCHD is an aberration, but, judging from other major Catholic charities, it is not. Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Charities, and Catholic Relief Services all have abused the trust shown to them by Catholics in the pew.

The pope's recent condom statement brought a cheerful reaction from Caritas Internationalis which works with AIDS programs. They released a statement welcoming the pope's comments on condoms. It included this quote from Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight:
“The Pope’s reported comments in this book illustrate the importance of compassion and sensitivity in dealing with the complexities of HIV/AIDS prevention. Caritas delivers its HIV/AIDS programmes in line with Church Teaching and we will consider, in close consultation with the Holy See, whether there are implications for our work in these reported comments of Pope Benedict.”
Shall I translate that for you. "Hey, we've always supported condoms now we look forward to doing it openly with the pope's approval." Is that a slur on Caritas? I don't think so. Unfortunately, all the major Catholic charities are tainted by the fact that they take massive amounts of money from the government and anti-life foundations that support condom distribution and other anti-Catholic solutions to worldly problems. On top of that the charities commonly hire liberals who personally oppose Church teaching to fill key jobs. They also participate in coalitions that include organizations that support abortion, homosexuality, and are enemies of the traditional family.

Caritas is no different. Caritas-Europa, for example, is a member of End Poverty, a group that includes Planned Parenthood International and other problematic members like the European Social Action Network (EASN). They describe themselves as a "coalition of European NGO (non-governmental organization) networks." Their goal is "to advocate for a strong political legacy" (stress in the original)in the European Union (EU). Now what exactly does that mean?  

If you examine End Poverty's goals they includes the usual assortment of liberal issues: redistribution of income, environmentalism, elimination of "social exclusion" for any groups (including LGBT), etc. Building a "strong political legacy," they say, requires "A new overarching social and sustainable EU strategy, based on fundamental rights (stress in original), which puts people and planet first and makes progress on eradicating poverty and inequality a prerequisite in the development of all EU policies." Sounds impressive, but terms aren't defined and some of the language about rights and inequality has been used in other international documents and at United Nations meetings to mean the right to abortion and special rights for LGBT groups. Since some members of the coalition support abortion and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is an attack on the family through an attack on parental authority, healthy skepticism is appropriate. And what exactly is a Catholic charity doing supporting "redistribution of income" in the first place? Forced charity is an oxymoron and violates justice.

While paying lip service to "putting people first," there's not one word in End Poverty's document about protecting the rights of the most vulnerable person, the unborn child, or defending the rights of the family. Since the breakdown of the family is the greatest cause of poverty, ignoring the family altogether is inexcusable, but not surprising considering the anti-family agenda of some of the members.

Caritas is certainly not alone in their questionable actions.Anyone paying attention to national and international Catholic charities knows, for the most part, they aren't really Catholic at all. Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is notorious! So is Catholic Charities which lost its soul years ago when it chose  political activism and government money over the corporal works of mercy and the Catholic rule of subsidiarity. In my own diocese, Catholic Charities ran a teen sexuality program in the 80s (funded by a government grant) that used Planned Parenthood materials and featured speakers who undermined Church teaching. My husband and I attended with our son and I specifically remember the doctor who said "masturbation is no problem" to this group of 13-year-olds.

What about Catholic Relief Services? In 2008 Catholic World Report (CRS) ran an exposé on the international charity titled The Church Betrayed by moral theologian Germain Grisez. Grisez went into extended detail on an AIDS education program that used materials developed by CRS implying that condoms were the best way to avoid AIDS (after a passing mention of abstinence) and masturbation was an acceptable alternative form of sexual expression. (They used the term massage, but one gets the idea.) Fornication was implied as well even for teens. The program included a "flip chart" developed by and the property of CRS with their logo deliberately excluded. Apparently, the powers that be recognized the ticklish situation if they were known as the authors of the problematic materials. And so CRS covered it up. In fact, Jared M. Hoffman, an executive with CRS headquarters in Baltimore, in a letter accompanying the CD with the educational materials, which was sent out to "colleagues" in many countries, specifically forbade the CRS logo from appearing on them. Why? "CRS," Hoffman wrote, "has chosen not to include the CRS or AIDSRelief logo on the flipchart, due to the potential sensitivity of the information contained in these materials among Church partners."

Professor Grisez called for the bishops to investigate CRS, but Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the CRS board, sent a letter to his brother bishops after the article was published assuring them that all was well, and no investigation was needed. He also defamed Professor Grisez by misrepresenting the article and accusing him of saying things he never said. It was business as usual at a big Catholic charity, something that has become all too familiar to Catholics in the pew.

Unfortunately, the strategy of the bishops for addressing scandals that regularly arise about their so-called Catholic charities is: 1) circle the wagon, 2) drag out a barrel of whitewash to cover up the scandal, and 3) spin the facts to assure everyone that what happened was, of course, an aberration, a misunderstanding, a mistake that will never be repeated....until the next time. And you can be sure there will be a next time because those administering these charities are often liberals who oppose Church teaching and think the world's solutions are best. Church bureaucracies are filled with them and most of the bishops seem perfectly content to turn a blind eye to the problem.

So what's a faithful Catholic to do? Personally, I won't give a nickle to any of the establishment Catholic charities which will use my money, at least some of the time, to attack my beliefs. In the meantime, I give to groups I trust. The answer in the long run, I believe, is the establishment of a truly Catholic charity run by the laity that follows Catholic principles faithfully, refuses entanglement with the culture of death by taking no money from the government, supports only Catholic charitable programs, and hires only faithful Catholics as administrators, field workers, and grant reviewers. Such an institution is long overdue. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to raise one up that will produce an abundance of good grapes instead of a devastated vineyard filled with rotten fruit.

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