USCCB: Campaign for Human Development and Health Care Reform

This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued two statements: one a Q and A on their annual Campaign for Human Development, a collection for which will be taken up in US parishes in November; and the other a "nationwide bulletin insert" on health care reform measures coming before Congress.  To the best of my knowledge this "nationwide bulletin insert" is the first of its kind.  Since the USCCB is seeking a wide broadcast of these materials, I'm presenting them here in their entirety rather than just supplying links.



What is CCHD?
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development was founded in 1970 by the Catholic bishops of the United States as the Catholic Church’s domestic anti-poverty program. For nearly 40 years, CCHD has helped make long-term changes in the economic condition of communities across the United States.

What differentiates the Catholic Campaign for Human Development from other church charities programs?
CCHD is a complement to the direct-assistance mission of Catholic Charities agencies and other Church emergency relief programs. It helps make long-term changes in the economic condition of communities by supporting projects that address the root causes of poverty, such as racism, unemployment, lack of education and lack of economic opportunities.

What kind of initiatives does CCHD fund?
CCHD funds programs where poor and marginalized people are empowered to make decisions, seek solutions to local problems and find ways to improve their lives and neighborhoods. Economic development initiatives help poor and low-income people develop new businesses, create new jobs and develop assets that are owned by families and communities. CCHD also provides educational opportunities for Catholics to learn about poverty interact with those affected by it and reflect on a faith response to it.

How do initiatives get funded?
Those who seek funding submit their applications through their local dioceses. Diocesan staff evaluate the projects and submit to local bishop for approval. A national team reviews all applications submitted and, in consultation with the dioceses that recommended them, makes recommendations to the Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The Subcommittee decides which ones will receive national funding. Additionally, some projects are funded directly by the diocese from the 25 percent retained by the local diocese for smaller initiatives that are just starting out.

Does CCHD fund exclusively Catholic initiatives?
No, but CCHD guidelines explicitly state that in order to apply for CCHD funding the mission and actions of agencies seeking funding cannot be at odds with Catholic social teaching.

Why doesn’t CCHD fund exclusively Catholic programs or initiatives?
CCHD is deeply integrated into the life of the Catholic community. For example, in 2008, CCHD funded initiatives involved 683 Catholic priests, 776 Catholic parishes, 18 Catholic Charities agencies and 51 religious communities. Some of the programs funded include partnerships with other communities of faith and secular groups. As long as the mission and actions of the groups requesting funding are in agreement with Catholic social teaching, the bishops believe Catholics can partner with others in the community to address the root causes of poverty and injustice, and advance the cause of human dignity and development.

What about recent allegations that CCHD funds groups openly in conflict with positions held by the Catholic Church?
CCHD is always examining ways to strengthen and improve monitoring efforts to ensure that all grantees comply with CCHD criteria. This is an ongoing process, involving both local dioceses and national CCHD staff. We also hear from others who may bring to our attention concerns about groups or initiatives that CCHD is either considering for funding or currently funding. The CCHD Subcommittee and staff take seriously any allegation that groups are not in compliance with Catholic teaching or are participating in partisan political activity. CCHD immediately investigates each allegation in consultation with the local diocese and, if the allegations are confirmed, discontinues funding immediately.

Out of the 250 grantees for 2009, how many groups have been found non-compliant?
Out of 250 grantees in 2009, there were three credible allegations. In one case, a group was found to be in support of abortion and had already been de-funded when an allegation brought their name to our attention. In the other two cases, the groups had taken actions in conflict with CCHD’s guidelines after they were funded. Without the knowledge of the local diocese or CCHD, they produced voter guides that took positions on referenda opposed to Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage and, in one case, on parental notification and abortion. As soon as these facts were confirmed, and after consultation with the local diocese, the groups were de-funded. Charges against two other groups named were investigated and, in consultation with the local dioceses, the charges were found to be inaccurate or based on a misunderstanding. In all five cases prompt and decisive action was taken consistent with CCHD’s policies and practices. In the past, funding also has been withdrawn promptly when allegations of political partisanship or mismanagement of funds were substantiated.

Who is being funded by CCHD?
A list of recent grantees and other information about CCHD is at www.usccb.org/cchd/grants. Persons seeking further information may call the Catholic Campaign for Human Development at 202-541-3210.


Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform

Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors. Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of
conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee-approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them.

Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.

As the U.S. bishops’ letter of October 8 states:
“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
(For the full text of this letter and more information on proposed legislation and the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit: www.usccb.org/healthcare)
Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed. Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.

Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.
- To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.
- Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
- Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

“During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

“Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

Both House and Senate are preparing for floor votes now. Act today! Thank you!


  1. Concord Pastor, How do you plan to handle this weekend's plea from the bishop? Just in the bulletin, or incorporating the theme into your homily? Would you set up a time/place for parishioners who have expertise in related fields to speak? Do you personally feel urgency to get something going on the bishops' initiative?

  2. Presumably, the vast majority of the uninsured poor aren’t looking for abortions. Now our bishops want us to write our representatives insisting we shouldn’t even subsidize their mammograms, colonoscopies, Insulin or removal of their brain tumors unless we’re certain they won’t also get abortions.

    Momentum for true reform seems to come around only every decade or two. If this effort doesn’t succeed, the alternative probably won’t be some Catholic ideal. It will be the status quo. The USCCB is too willing to jeapordize healthcare for millions of people for fear that some of them might some day get an abortion.

  3. I have the same fears as the second Anonymous above - that should the bishops' effort succeed, there will be no health care reform at all.

  4. And if the bill ultimately does contain the “non-negotiable” provisions the USCCB calls for, I hope the Church gives its full endorsement in the form of windshield leaflets, bulletin inserts, homilies and special “Respect Life” editions of diocesan newspapers.


Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!