The Catholic bishops of the United States have put the power of funding behind their efforts to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
In March of 2013, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which is the domestic anti-poverty agency of the U.S. bishops, approved special grants totaling nearly $1 million “to mobilize Catholics on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and to prepare Catholic institutions for the prospects of reform legislation.”
According to the USCCB website, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, the chairman of the CCHD subcommittee, announced the grants after the bishops determined that “swift action by the Catholic community was essential in advancing the recently emerging prospects for immigration reform. CCHD has taken significant steps to contribute in a swift and meaningful way to this most important national conversation.”
Bishop Soto said:
There is an urgent need to mobilize resources efficiently in order to meet the challenge when the possibility for real immigration reform has never been closer. With these grants, CCHD is poised to make a significant difference in a way consistent with our mission and identity. The efforts supported are rooted in Catholic social teaching about the dignity of the human person and reflect our deep ties to generations of immigrants who have come to America. These grants represent a distinctively Catholic contribution in promoting comprehensive immigration reform. They will strengthen the capacity of our institutions to help immigrant families come out from the shadows and participate more actively in American society.
Catholics often are asked to contribute to CCHD in “special second collections” during Masses and in the bishops’ annual appeal drives.
The CCHD, in particular, has been the focus of significant controversy in recent years since the Reform CCHD Now (RCN) coalition, of which the pro-life American Life League is a member, has worked to promote its reform after discovering that dozens of its grantees promote activities contrary to Catholic teaching.
LifeSiteNews reported that Bishop Soto responded to reports that CCHD monies were being granted to organizations that advocate for positions that are against the doctrines of the Church:
Despite significant progress, some things don’t change. The American Life League continues to attack CCHD and the USCCB. ALL continue[s] to recycle allegations that CCHD funds many organizations that are in conflict with Catholic teaching. They simply do not agree with CCHD’s mission and how we apply our guidelines and requirements.
As an issue that is generally promoted by left-leaning political groups, immigration reform recently became tangled in the Church’s CCHD funding process.
On July 29th, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was sharply criticized in an open letter in the Chicago Tribune by eight Catholic Democrats who charged him with a threat to withhold CCHD funding from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), a group that had recently endorsed same-sex marriage, which is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. ICIRR had been receiving between $25,000 to $30,000 per year through CCHD funding.
LifeSiteNews reported George’s response to the criticism from the Catholic Democrats:
Donors to the CCHD give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith. Organizations that apply for funds do so agreeing to this condition.
To provide further insight into the bishops’ advocacy for immigration reform, Breitbart News interviewed Brad Miner, Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing, a Senior Fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. Miner is the author of six books and a former Literary Editor of National Review.