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CAMDEN, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishop of Camden, New Jersey is accusing Catholic watchdog group the Lepanto Institute of peddling lies — but Michael Hichborn, president of the institute, is fighting back.
"Do not believe everything you read on www.lepanto.org," said Bp. Dennis Sullivan in a letter to a member of his diocese. "They are experts at misinterpretation of facts and they even lie."
The letter was written in response to questions from a local Catholic inquiring about the Lepanto Institute's critical coverage of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which is reported to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-abortion, pro-LGBT groups.
"The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is sponsored by the Catholic Bishops of the United States," said Sullivan. "Do you really think that the Catholic bishops would sponsor this much needed assistance to the poor to 'give money to heretical groups?'"
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, told Church Militant: "I find it interesting that Bp. Sullivan accused us of lying without supplying any evidence or example of such a thing. If we've been mistaken, we are certainly willing to correct the record."
The CCHD refuses to refute Lepanto's critiques, according to Hichborn. "They just simply deny any wrongdoing," he said.
"It is the CCHD, in fact, who is courting the lie," he noted.
As a case in point, Hichborn points to CCHD's 2012 denial of the Gamaliel Foundation's connection to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a leftist organization that supports abortion and same-sex "marriage."
"We exposed the Gamaliel Foundation's lie to the CCHD in 2012, and the CCHD's response was NOT to defund Gamaliel affiliates, but to discontinue any meetings with me regarding my research," said Hichborn.
He received a letter from the CCHD director in Pittsburgh claiming that Gamaliel "severed relations" with FIRM in May 2010 — a claim that was demonstrably false.
Hichborn examined Gamaliel's website and discovered files dated December 2011 showing that Gamaliel was still a member and still on the executive committee of FIRM, as well as being elected to FIRM's executive committee in 2012.
"These cases represent a standing lie that to this day has not been addressed by the CCHD," Hichborn said, adding, "His Excellency in Camden has yet to address this discrepancy."
The CCHD is the anti-poverty arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was originally simply named the Campaign for Human Development (CHD), founded in 1969 in Chicago by followers and associates of Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals.
A recent Church Militant article reported on CCHD giving funds to Call to Action for Racial Equality (CARE), a West Virginia organization that has actively promoted homosexuality and transgenderism and has participated in a campaign to defeat the proposed ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion. The CCHD has also directed funds to the pro-LGBT Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), an active promoter of transgenderism.
"How many times does the CCHD have to be caught funding organizations that are directly promoting abortion, contraception, homosexuality and marxism before the bishops stop believing their promises that they never do such things?" Hichborn asked.
Hichborn has invited Sullivan to meet with him:
I would like to add that in the interest of pursuing peace and truth, I am completely willing to meet with Bp. Sullivan at his earliest convenience to discuss our work, our discoveries, and our attempts to reach out to the parties involved. I recently offered to have a public discussion about the CCHD with Ralph McCloud ... . [P]erhaps Bp. Sullivan would be willing to meet with both McCloud and me to discuss this.
I'm willing to be corrected if I am wrong, but to date, neither bishops nor CCHD employees have ever been able to show me where my information is wrong.
Church Militant contacted the bishop's office and the office of communication in the Camden diocese to ask Bp. Sullivan to give examples of "misinterpretation of facts" and "lies" to which he refers in his letter, but received no comment as of press time.