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The Bishops’ War Against Poverty

Aleteia - published on 06/25/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Last week, the USCCB announced that the CCHD subcommittee of the USCCB, which is chaired by Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, had approved $14 million in grant funding for the 2014-2015. This includes $10 million for community and economic development grants, and $4 million for strategic national grants. This year’s awards won’t be announced until early July, but here’s a list of last year’s recipients. They include strategic national grants to the Democracy at Work Institute, an arm of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; the National Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Birth Choice Health Clinics, a Southern California chain that offers a range of pre- and post-natal services to pregnant women.

Not so long ago there was significant controversy in the Catholic community about some of CCHD’s grant recipients. It was charged that CCHD provided funds to organizations that also promoted abortion, contraception and homosexuality. CCHD denied the accusation, but there was disturbing evidence that a few of the organizations receiving funds did indeed have secondary or tertiary agendas that contradicted Catholic teaching. Given the fungibility of money, this presented a legitimate problem. The CCHD has since redoubled its efforts to ensure that no organization receiving funds actively works against Church teaching in another area. And in fact the leading group leading reform of the CCHD hasn’t posted an update to their website since 2011.

Pope Francis never fails to remind us that poverty – like abortion, war, sex trafficking and other evils – is a crime against the fundamental dignity of the human person. The support our bishops provide to local organizations fighting the battle against poverty is a concrete example of the Church’s “preferential option for the poor,” and a reminder that service to the needy is a primary path for living out the Christian vocation.

Mark Gordonis a partner at PathTree, a consulting firm focused on organizational resilience and strategy. He also serves as president of both the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Providence, and a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Mark is the author of Forty Days, Forty Graces: Essays By a Grateful Pilgrim. He and his wife Camila have been married for 30 years and they have two adult children.

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