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One Step Forward, One Step Back

March 1, 2010

Health care reform is back in the news again as progressive forces are mulling parliamentary procedures to make an end run around a proposed filibuster.  This is unfortunate, since the language of the current Senate bill contains abortion funding provisions. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rightly opposes this particular bill, and has issued a nation-wide call to action as the legislation is absolutely unacceptable as it stands.

However, an organization funded by the USCCB through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has a different view of the matter.   The Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC), a group which we had warned about last August, has taken a position directly opposite of the USCCB and is urging for the Senate version of health care reform to pass with no changes.

Exhibit A: THCC’s web-site contains an urgent call to action to support the current Senate health care reform bill.  (see: THCC website)

THCC exhorts Tennessee residents to pass the following message on to Congress:

Vote Yes to pass the Senate bill entact. You are not going to get a better bill now and more delay will put any chance of reform at risk for years. Support the Senate bill as it is and live to fight another day to improve upon it. (see: ibid)

Analysis and Commentary

It is unpleasant to have to write up this particular report.  We warned the CCHD about this group last August as being one that had a high risk of acting against the USCCB in regard to health reform, and unfortunately our predictions have come to pass.  Working with radically progressive groups carries an inherent danger, and this is one illustration of what can happen.

The USCCB itself has acted strongly in protecting the preborn, and they should be applauded for that.  However, funding groups which under-cut your good work is not a recipe for success.  THCC should be defunded immediately.

Particularly striking is THCC’s statement to support the Senate bill as it stands “and live to fight another day to improve upon it.”  These are harsh words for the infants who would meet a gruesome end in the event this legislation passed.   Where is the concern that they live to fight another day?

We will continue to monitor THCC as well as other CCHD grantees and networks which are acting in opposition to the USCCB’s call to oppose abortion funding in health legislation.  In the meantime, please consider signing the Reform CCHD Now petition to support common sense reform of the CCHD’s grants process.

Revisiting the Center for Community Change

February 1, 2010

On November 20th, the Reform CCHD Now Coalition issued a press release based on research conducted primarily by the American Life League that detailed the relationship between thirty-one national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grantees and the Center For Community Change (CCC).

Since that time, the CCHD has not responded publicly or privately to the allegations.  The CCHD prides itself on taking seriously any credible accusations made against the organizations it funds, so we are somewhat perplexed that two months have passed with no response.

Working closely with Reform CCHD Now coalition partners, the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry has conducted extensive research into the activities of the Center for Community Change and has confirmed the previously released information.  Additionally, further troubling facts have been discovered which strongly indicate that the CCHD, its grantees and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in general should immediately cease working with, and or promoting, the Center for Community Change.

What is the Center for Community Change?

The Center for Community Change is perhaps best described as a large-scale organizer of community organizing groups.   The CCC, according to its website, “strengthens, connects and mobilizes grassroots groups to enhance their leadership, voice and power.”  The CCC provides support and training to organizations, builds large scale coalitions, and “incubates the ideas that will shape a better tomorrow.” (ibid)  The CCC is widely recognized as a leader in the progressive movement, recently winning the Paul Wellstone Leadership Award.

Current USCCB Promotion of the Center for Community Change

Currently, thirty-one CCHD grantees have been identified as CCC partners (see image on right, courtesy American Life League), including many from the Gamaliel Foundation network.*

The CCC is also promoted on the USCCB website.  The USCCB gives several suggestions on how to advocate for those living in poverty in the United States.  Among those suggestions is the following:

“Lend your support to organizations that work with people in poverty to bring about positive changes at the state and federal level. One such group is the Center for Community Change (www.communitychange.org), which helps low income people build effective organizations that can change their communities and public policies.” (see USCCB website)

*As an aside, it should be noted that Gamaliel worked closely with the CCC during the last election cycle, and after the election co-sponsored a forum with the CCC called “Realizing the Promise: a Forum on Community, Faith and Democracy.”  This forum can be viewed in its entirety on C-Span’s website.  We suggest that the CCHD staff watch this video closely, as criteria #7 of the CCHD grants guidelines (“organizations engaged in partisan political activity are not eligible”) seems to have been violated by Gamaliel’s election year activities.  Furthermore, current CCHD director Ralph McCloud’s appearance at this forum (beginning at 27:41 of the video) should be clarified since it appears to give tacit support to the proceedings.

Recent Examples of CCC Activities Contrary to Catholic Teaching

On a surface level, many of the issues the CCC promotes seem in conformity with Catholic social teaching.  However, once the smooth facade and flowery language is peeled away, what remains is a deformed progressive vision that is at odds with the Catholic vision of humanity.   Noble goals, such as universal access to health-care, immigration reform, and strong community values become little more than sacrificial hosts for an agenda that includes abortion and promotion of homosexual lifestyles.

The research conducted by the American Life League and reported by LifeSiteNews covering items such as radically pro-abortion members of the CCC board and the CCC’s equating of abortion rights with criminal justice gives ample support to this claim.  However, since the CCHD and USCCB have yet to take action, we felt it necessary to conduct further investigation that we hope will clarify any remaining doubts they may have regarding the CCC.  The following represents a portion of our findings.

CCC Support of Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform

Exhibit A: Deepak Barghava, Executive Director of the CCC, states that the CCC is fighting for “lifting restrictions on women’s access to health services.”

“Even as we continue to fight for affordability, for a public option, for greater efforts on racial disparities, for lifting restrictions on women’s access to health services and immigrant inclusion, we believe it is important for all Americans to take stock of the truly important changes that the current reform will achieve”  (see CCC website)

Exhibit B:  The CCC joined the “Stop Stupak” coalition (see Politico) (Note: Center for Community Change joined Stop Stupak officially through its activism arm, Campaign for Community Change)

Exhibit C: At a Stop Stupak rally, the following remarks were offered by the CCC:

“Of course, no issue is more critical to women’s economic opportunity than the ability to choose when and under what personal circumstances to raise children.  Access to reproductive health services including abortion has had a terrible legacy of class bias in the United States.  Prior to abortion being legalized it was widely understood that many upper income families could find safe abortion services and low income families could not.  We brought this legacy into law when we began restricting federal funds from being used to provide abortion services to low income women who receive Medicaid.  Now we are poised to bring those restrictions to millions of women who will receive some subsidy to help bring down the cost of health insurance – just at the time in our history when we are trying to make health coverage more universal and accessible.  The Stupak restrictions go even further and interfere with the whole private market.  The current state of debate on abortion often misses this fundamental truth.” (see CCC website)

CCC Use of Immigration Reform to Promote Abortion

Exhibit A:  CCC is a member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) 

NCIWR requires all member to sign an agreement that states:

“My organization is committed to advancing equality and human rights for all immigrant women, children and communities. We support the goals of the NCIWR that are stated in the Guiding and Operating Principles. I and my colleagues are aware of, have read and agree to the principles espoused in the following documents: NCIWR Guiding Principles, NCIWR Operating Principles” (see NCIWR Agreement Form)

The NCIWR Guiding Principles, which the CCC has read and agreed to, include the following provisions:

• Universal health coverage that provides adequate health services and care for all immigrant women regardless of legal and economic status.
• Reproductive health care coverage financed through public funds provided to all immigrant women regardless of legal and economic status.
• The repeal of all federal and state level restrictions on access to reproductive health services by immigrant women and their children.
• Social services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.
• Equitable access to non-employment based public benefits for all immigrant women.
• Equitable access to confidential and non-coercive family planning services and contraceptive equity.
• Equitable access to linguistically, culturally competent, and medically accurate reproductive health care services.
• Equitable access to comprehensive sex and sexuality education.
• Technical and training support to service providers, attorneys, community advocates, and other professionals (both governmental and non-governmental) working with immigrant women at the local, state, federal, and international levels. (see NCIWR Guiding Principles)

CCC Actively Develops Leaders for the Homosexual Movement

Exhibit A: The CCC, through its Generation Change program, actively seeks to train homosexual activists to further the homosexual movement.  According to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender) Movement Advancement Project, the aim of the Generation Change program is to:

  • Increase number and diversity of leaders in the movement
  • Provide a progressive, cross-issue frame for LGBT movement leadership development
  • Equip leaders with skills to strengthen organizations and organizing efforts (see Building LGBT Nonprofit Leadership Talent, P. 30)

Exhibit B: The CCC received a $50,000 grant in 2008 for leadership training from the Gill Foundation, one of the nations largest funders of LGBT causes. (see Gill Foundation website)

CCC Promotes Radical Ideas Through its Movement Vision Project

UPDATE 2/2/2010 : The CCC pulled all Movement Vision Lab articles from its website shortly after this report was posted on 2/1/2010.  CCC states: “As of February 1st, 2010, the Movement Vision Lab is no longer a project of the Center for Community Change.”

The CCC’s Movement Vision Project was started with the goal of “identifying and advancing a shared, progressive vision for the future of the United States.”  The director of the Movement Vision Project is Sally Kohn, who has worked in the past with the Third Wave Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Currently, the Movement Vision Project is operating through the Movement Vision Lab, which is housed on the Center for Community Change’s website.

The Movement Vision Lab contains a number of submissions from both CCC staff and outside organizations.  A wide range of progressive topics are covered, and it would not be correct to assume that every article is endorsed by the CCC.  However, reading through the submitted articles, especially those submitted by staff members and close associates, does give one an accurate barometer of what the CCC’s progressive vision for humanity includes.

Some notable examples:

Exhibit A: Sean Thomas-Brietfield, Director of the Center for Community Change’s Taproots Project, wrote an article promoting consensual polyamory.  Brietfield states:

Polyamory, or consensual non-monogamy, recognizes a basic fact of human sexuality: the eye will wander. If open relationships were a socially acceptable option, we’d think very differently about “adultery” and we’d probably craft very different romantic relationships. (see “Tila Tequila, MTV and Polyamory,” CCC website)

Brietfield also adds:

Consensual non-monogamy would make it possible for partners to honestly tell each other when they are attracted to other people and even go out on dates with other people with the full knowledge and blessing of their primary partner. It would be possible for a couple to welcome another person (or persons) into their relationship (and bedroom). It would certainly give new meaning to the idea of a “blended family” (Heather could have three mommies instead of just two). Obviously, these possibilities exist outside of the legal frame of marriage. But, as the 250 authors, activists, intellectuals and celebrities (gay and straight) who wrote the Beyond Same-Sex Marriage statement noted, “marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others.” (ibid)

Exhibit B:  Xiomara Corpeno, a Center for Community Change 2008 Taproot’s Fellow and Director of Organizing for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), wrote an article discussing cross issue work between homosexual rights groups and immigration reform organizations.  This article is particularly of interest as it gives further confirmation to our findings concerning Mobilize the Immigrant Vote.  Corpeno states:

“CHIRLA, in conjunction with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote first began with conversations about how “wedge” issues are created  and who benefits from the divisions they create.  The next steps have included educational workshops for our members on Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender definitions and issues, as well as workshops on the historical context of oppression in the United States.   Our conversations are far from over because the struggle for liberation of all peoples is on-going.” (see “Queer Activists and Immigrant Activists: Finding Intersections and Working Together”, CCC website)

Commentary and Analysis

This report, in conjunction with the previous research provided by American Life League and reported by LifeSiteNews, should put to rest any doubts that the Center for Community Change should not be considered an ally of the Catholic Church.

While it may seem that the interests of the Church and the CCC intersect on several important issues such as health-care and immigration reform, a cursory examination shows that Church social teaching and the CCC’s guiding principles are, in fact, two separate roads leading to fundamentally different destinations.

Cooperation with non-Catholic organizations is a sometimes necessary and even praiseworthy way to more effectively promote human dignity.  However, cooperation is only possible where there is common ground.   This common ground should not be judged solely on the basis of shared interests, but rather by the shared fundamental principles underlying those interests.  Without such common ground, cooperation may ultimately lead to the unintended compromise of fundamental principles by one or both parties.

A case and point can be seen with the recent push for health care reform.  The Catholic Church and radical progressives both share a common interest in universal access to basic health care.  However, generally speaking, the Church and radical progressives have differing views on fundamental issues of human dignity.

Should there be any surprise, then, that the legislation proposed by progressives ultimately included provisions for abortion funding, family planning, lack of a conscience clause, and skewed toward a model which lacked a basic understanding of subsidiarity?

While the argument might be made that only progressives were making any push toward universal access, expediency must never be a justification for betrayal of principle.   Yes, the USCCB was quite vocal in condemning the abortion provisions found in the legislation, however, the fact that a faulty health care bill came a hair’s breadth from becoming law was, in part, the fault of a flawed notion of cooperation.

Similarly, cooperation with radical progressives on immigration reform is another source of potential danger.  We must carefully examine the fundamental principles involved, and make sure that those we cooperate with do not have an all-together different set of values driving their work on this issue.

Our investigations into organizations such as Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and the Center for Community Change have revealed that at least part of their motive for pushing for immigration reform stems from a desire to build a radicalized progressive voting base.  Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center For Community Change, stated this plainly at the “Progressives in the Age of Obama Forum” on June 1st, 2009:

“…[immigration reform] is also important from the perspective of building progressive power, because those twelve million undocumented immigrants, if we are successful in building a path to citizenship, will join in a larger progressive coalition on all the fights for economic and social justice that are ahead of us.”  (see “Progressives in the Age of Obama Forum” C-Span, beginning at 44:00)

Coupling this with uncovered evidence showing an attempt at indoctrinating immigrants into holding flawed positions on homosexuality and abortion by these organizations should give the USCCB good reason to reconsider any alliances, either they or their grantees hold, with such groups.

Once again, please keep in mind that in no way are we stating or implying that any bishop or staff member of the USCCB holds pro-abortion views.  We have conversed and exchanged correspondence on a number of occasions with USCCB staff and have nothing but the highest regard for the strength of their convictions.  However, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a disturbing pattern of cooperation between the USCCB and organizations that do not share the same fundamental vision of human dignity as the Catholic Church.

Massive Earthquake in Haiti

January 13, 2010

Initial estimates of those killed by this earthquake number in the thousands.  We must respond swiftly and with great generosity.  Even if you have nothing material to give, please remember to take the time to pray for the victims, their loved ones, and those on the front lines giving aid.

For more information on strong pro-life charitable organizations accepting donations for relief efforts in Haiti, please read this article published today by LifeSiteNews.com.

Man to Man – Book Review

January 11, 2010

We here at the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry receive many e-mails from Catholics looking for worthy causes to support.  We usually answer these e-mails by pointing to the growing list on the Reform CCHD Coalition web-site which includes many notable Catholic charities and organizations.  These fine charities are all in need of your support and do excellent work in helping the destitute and spreading the faith.  BVM now has another suggestion, namely purchasing Fr. James Farfaglia’s excellent new book, Man to Man.

You may be wondering how purchasing a book can support a worthy cause.   Fr. James Farfaglia’s website states that all proceeds from his book will be used to found a Catholic elementary school:

Man to Man speaks both eloquently and bluntly to men about all issues pertaining to Catholic family life including love vs. lust, pornography, the raising of children, openness to life, leadership, and authentic spirituality.  Fr. Farfaglia’s decidedly masculine approach is exactly what men need to help navigate the unprecedented pressures of these troubled times.  The book is easily read in the space of several hours, but the impact will be felt for a lifetime.  Man to Man, along with Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married should be required reading for all husbands and those contemplating marriage and makes for an excellent wedding or graduation gift.

Remember, by purchasing Man to Man, not only will you be providing spiritual ammunition for yourself or a loved one, you will be helping to establish an excellent Catholic school where the Faith will be imparted for generations to come.

To purchase or for more information, please visit the Man to Man web-site.

New information regarding the San Francisco Organizing Project

December 22, 2009

Prior to the 2009 national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection,  we outlined troubling activities of the  San Francisco Organizing Project (a national CCHD grantee and PICO affiliate) in two separate reports.  The first report examined SFOP’s support of a major  San Francisco provider of emergency contraception and family planning.  The second report detailed a number of CCHD grantees, including SFOP, which are members of a pro-abortion immigrant mobilization coalition.  The CCHD offered a vague response to these charges against SFOP  in a release entitled “For the Record: The Truth About CCHD Funding:”

…The Archdiocese of San Francisco strongly supports the work of the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) to expand access to health care to children. Both Archbishop Levada and Archbishop Niederauer have spoken at SFOP events; SFOP has met regularly with Archdiocesan staff to coordinate work on health care access and other issues that affect the poor and immigrant families. (Source: “For the Record“)

While this response does not address our charges in any substantive way, it does raise new questions.  First, what exactly did SFOP do to expand access to health care in San Francisco?  Second, is the health care reform supported by the SFOP (and presumably by the San Francisco Archdiocese according to the above statement) in line with Catholic moral teaching?  Unfortunately, after extensive research done both by us and other Reform CCHD coalition partners, a disturbing set of answers to these questions has risen to the surface.

SFOP, on its own web-site claims the following as health care victories:

  • Won Healthy Kids program to provide universal healthcare for children regardless of documentation status (2001).
  • Sponsored events that enrolled more than 2,000 children in Healthy Kids.
  • Won Healthy San Francisco – a first-in-the-country program to provide universal healthcare to all 82,000 uninsured San Franciscans. (source: SFOP web-site)

SFOP’s boasting is not empty rhetoric.  They did indeed play an integral role in planning and securing both the Healthy Kids and Healthy San Francisco health care plans.   We will now examine both plans in more detail.

Healthy Kids

SFOP’s involvement in implementing and supporting this program:

♦ Exhibit A:  This report published by the John W. Gardner Center in 2005 states the following about SFOP’s role in implementing Healthy Kids:

By 2000, SFOP had deepened its work to include more systemic projects. Health care became SFOP’s primary citywide focus as it worked to launch the Healthy Kids insurance program and helped to enroll 2,000 children in the program through the San Francisco Health Plan over a two-year period. (Source: John W. Gardner Center SFOP Report pg. 4)

♦ Exhibit B:  The resolution in support of Healthy Kids specifically mentions SFOP’s pivotal role.

Moral problems with the Healthy Kids plan:

♦ Exhibit A:  Healthy Kids covers “family planning” services to children as stated on the San Francisco Health Plan web-site. ♦ Exhibit B:  The “family planning” services provided by Healthy Kids include both contraceptive prescriptions as well as elective abortions.  (sources: Healthy Kids Summary of Benefits, and Healthy Kids Evidence of Coverage Disclosure Form)

♦ Exhibit C:  The California Senate Bill Analysis records opposition from the California Right to Life Committee as follows:

Healthy San Francisco

SFOP’s involvement in implementing and supporting this program:

♦ Exhibit A:  Community Catalyst lists SFOP as a major player in pressing for Healthy San Francisco:

Alongside Supervisor Ammiano, labor unions and community organizations such as Health Access, Senior Action Network, California Women’s Agenda, and the Bay Area Organizing Committee played major roles in the policy development and negotiations and in helping to drive the process forward. The SF Worker Health Coalition collected stories about uninsured workers’ struggle for health care.
The coalition grew to include the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP), the Bay Area Organizing Committee and Health Care for All SF as well as other labor and nonprofit groups. These organizations mobilized their membership and held public events in support of the HCSO. They also worked to secure the support from Newsome, who was being heavily lobbied by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and other employer groups to oppose the ordinance. (Source: Community Catalyst’s Case Report on Healthy San Francisco)

♦ Exhibit B:  A member of the SFOP was appointed to the Healthy San Francisco Advisory Council to “help guide the development, planning and implementation of Healthy San Francisco. The Advisory Council provides expert consultation on: implementation of employer spending mandate, membership, benefits, provider network, utilization, costs, and evaluation.” (Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health)

Moral problems with Healthy San Francisco:

♦ Exhibit A: Healthy San Francisco covers “family planning” services including emergency contraception.  (Source: Healthy San Francisco brochure, Healthy San Francisco web-site)

♦ Exhibit B: Healthy San Francisco covers elective abortions according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But some services, such as elective abortions, may not be offered through a public option or by policies that are subsidized by federal funds because of the U.S. government’s ban on paying for such procedures. San Francisco public health officials said elective abortions would continue to be provided through Healthy San Francisco.  (Source: “National plan wouldn’t mean the end of Healthy S.F.,” San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 23, 2009)

Commentary and Analysis:

Considering the USCCB’s public statements against the current national health reform legislation precisely on the grounds that it would provide government funding of abortion, we are perplexed that the Archdiocese of San Francisco “strongly supports” the work of SFOP in implementing these programs which do provide funding for abortion.  Furthermore, both the California Catholic Conference and Catholic Charities are listed as supporters of the Healthy Kids health plan in the Senate Bill Analysis.  We assume that these Catholic groups did not have full knowledge of what Healthy Kids would cover, though perhaps they would have been better served listening to the lone opposition coming from the California Right to Life Committee rather than organizers from SFOP and PICO.

That being said, perhaps this third report will convince the CCHD and the San Francisco Archdiocese to reconsider granting money collected from Catholics throughout the nation to the San Francisco Organizing Project.  The San Francisco Archdiocese might also consider making clear their position regarding both of the health plans outlined in this report.    Without such action, Catholics may become confused due to the appearance of  disagreement between the USCCB and San Francisco Archdiocese regarding support for health care reform which includes abortion funding.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes Today marks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which is also the patronal feast of the United States.  It is indeed a sad irony that this year’s Solemnity was marked by the rejection of adding abortion restricting language to the current health care legislation making its way through the Senate.  Remember to pray for our country today.

For more information on the Immaculate Conception, click here.

Moving Forward

November 21, 2009

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) laudably seeks to help correct the “root causes of poverty.”  The Catholic Church does indeed have a mission to the poor and destitute, and speaks with an authoritative voice on fundamental social questions.

However, after much research and reflection, we found that many of the secular or faith based grantees chosen by the CCHD to aid in this call either do not share the Church’s vision of the dignity of man or have a deformed understanding of the Gospel.  While the Church’s interests may intersect in particular cases with actions performed by these grantees, the flawed understanding of social doctrine held by these grantees does grave harm to the poor in the final analysis.

During this campaign we have outlined several examples of those grantees which harm human dignity by attacking central teachings of the Church in grave moral areas such as abortion, homosexuality and prostitution.  Thankfully, the CCHD has addressed some of these specific cases.  We still await implementation of reforms which will keep such groups from receiving funding in the future, but are hopeful the CCHD will move forward on this in the next year due in large part to your participation in our reform CCHD campaign.

In future reports we will discuss those grantees holding a deformed understanding of the Gospel of Christ and His true mission to humanity and whether or not the Church should be funding such organizations.  We have refrained from this topic until now due to the pressing need of stopping the flow of funds to those grantees directly and immediately harming the dignity of man.

Finally,  thank you to all who have taken the time to support us in our first national campaign.  The response we have received has been both overwhelming and humbling.  We hope to catch up in replying to all the letters and e-mails over the next few days, and look forward to providing continued action on this campaign as well as begin work on new campaigns, both personal and local.  Also, we would like to thank those members of the CCHD who have been in contact with us, and hope to continue our dialogue in the coming weeks and months so that we can call on our members to generously support the CCHD in the future.

God Bless,

Rob Gasper and the entire Bellarmine Veritas Ministry

Notable links:

BVM’s initial report

BVM’s second report (part 1)

BVM’s second report (part 2)

Initial response to Bishop Morin’s memo

Second response to Bishop Morin’s memo

Response to the CCHD’s “For the Record”

Second response to CCHD’s  “For the Record”

The Reform CCHD Coalition site

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