Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)

* Embraces the leftwing ideology and tactics of the late Saul Alinsky
* Was founded in 1969 as the charitable arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Identifies capitalism as the source of America’s “pervasive” poverty
* Provides funding for the Industrial Areas Foundation, the Midwest Academy, People Improving Communities Through Organizing, and the Gamaliel Foundation
* Was a longtime financial supporter of the community organization ACORN
* Helped Barack Obama when he was a young community organizer during the 1980s

Inspired by the leftwing ideology and the aggressive community-organizing tactics of Saul Alinsky, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) was founded in 1969 as the charitable arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. A member of the Caritas Internationalis federation, CCHD focuses its philanthropy on domestic anti-poverty and social-justice programs. Its mission is “to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative … education for justice, leading toward solidarity between poor and non-poor …” Ultimately, CCHD identifies capitalism as the source of America’s “pervasive” indigence. Says the organization: “[T]he causes of poverty are understood to be an aspect of ‘social sin’ rooted in our social and economic structures and institutions.”

To solve the problems allegedly spawned by capitalism, CCHD promotes transformative institutional change — in the form of “alternative economic structures” that will “broaden the sharing of economic power” and foster “economic decisions [that are] more accountable to the common good.” Toward this end, CCHD holds that all working people should be paid a “family living wage” — an amount large enough to enable each worker “to have a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and one’s family.” According to CCHD, “People have a fundamental right to life and to those things that make life truly human: food, clothing, housing, health care, education, security, social services, and employment.” Seeking to strike “a just balance of individual- and community-held assets” so that working people can “look forward to obtaining a share of the land,” CCHD aspires to “bridg[e] over” the “gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty” — and to bring “the respective classes … nearer to each other.”

Since its founding, CCHD has financed “such projects as voter registration, community organizations, community-run schools, minority-owned cooperatives and credit unions, capital for industrial development and job training programs, and setting up of rural cooperatives.” These initiatives focus particularly on “poor and vulnerable” people who “have a special place in Catholic social teaching,” and who consequently, as CCHD sees it, deserve to have their needs met “first.”

CCHD’s charitable giving is not channeled to poor families or individuals directly, but rather to activist organizations claiming to represent the economic and political interests of the poor. Between 1969 and 2009, CCHD provided more than 8,000 grants (worth, collectively, between $290 million and $450 million) to such groups. In addition, the organization has funded thousands of smaller projects with money collected by Catholic dioceses.

Employing the parlance of socialism, CCHD calls on advocates for the poor to maintain a spirit of “solidarity”; i.e., “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good … because we are all really responsible for all.”

Unwaveringly opposed to military action, CCHD contends that while “conflict is inevitable and often an element of social change,” it “must take place in an atmosphere of non-violence and respect for human persons.”

Because CCHD opposes same-sex marriage and abortion, it does not give money to groups that openly promote those practices. Any leftist organization that steers clear of those two issues, however, is eligible for CCHD grants. Among the more notable recipients of CCHD funding are: the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation, the Midwest Academy, People Improving Communities Through Organizing, the Gamaliel Foundation, and the Direct Action and Research Training Institute (which trained more than 10,000 community leaders and 150 professional community organizers between 1982 and 2009).

Moreover, for many years CCHD was a strong supporter of the community organization ACORN. Between 1999 and 2009, CCHD gave ACORN $7.3 million it had collected from churchgoers. It was only after a series of massive ACORN scandals were revealed in 2009 that CCHD cut off funding for the organization.

When Barack Obama was a young community organizer during the 1980s, CCHD supported his work as head of the Developing Communities Project based in Chicago’s Holy Rosary Church. Said Obama in an interview with Catholic Digest during the 2008 presidential campaign:

“I got my start as a community organizer working with mostly Catholic parishes on the Southside of Chicago that were struggling because the steel plants had closed. The Campaign for Human Development helped fund the project and so, very early on, my career was intertwined with the belief in social justice that is so strong in the Church.”

The late William E. Simon, a Catholic who served as U.S. Treasury Secretary during the Nixon and Ford administrations (1974-1977), complained in the late 1980s that CCHD was a “funding mechanism for radical left-wing political activism in the United States, rather than for traditional types of charities.” According to Catholic writer Paul Likoudis, CCHD was created near the end of Saul Alinsky’s life specifically to serve as a permanent source of funding for his Industrial Areas Foundation. As such, Likoudis describes CCHD as “a political mechanism bonding the American Church to the welfare state.”


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