Catholic Charities Gets $27 Million

by Christine Niles  •  •  August 31, 2015   

Critics wonder if federal money poses a temptation to the non-profit to compromise on Church teaching

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NEW YORK, August 31, 2015 ( - Catholic Charities has been awarded a $27 million-dollar contract by the federal government. The five-year contract will go towards funding Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a federal aid program for low-income women and children, and will allow the program to be expanded to Chautauaqua county in New York.

The WIC program offers food and nutrition education for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as for children under age five. The federal contract was awarded by the New York Health Department through a competitive bid process, which selected Catholic Charities to operate WIC in Chautauqua, Eria and Niagara counties through September 2020.

Catholic Charities USA receives the bulk of its multibillion-dollar budget from the federal government. In 2010, Catholic Charities made nearly $5 billion, with $2.9 billion consisting of federal taxpayer money. The non-profit consists of more than 1,000 loosely affiliated groups operating in various dioceses, with Catholic Charities USA serving as its umbrella organization. Some critics fear the federal money that flows to Catholic Charities USA comes with strings attached, and poses a temptation to become little more than an arm of the welfare state, or even to compromise on Catholic teaching.

Senator Rick Santorum, for instance, once criticized the non-profit for doing "little that is uniquely Catholic. They have to do what the government dictates, which means they can't talk about the Catholic part of the charity."

"If you are only going to be a more efficient bureaucracy, if you are not going to feed the souls as well as the stomach, then why exist?" Santorum asked.

In some cases, the organization goes even farther by tolerating or even seeming to promote anti-Catholic positions. For instance, Catholic Charities was discovered to be a dues-paying member of the Coalition on Human Needs, a group that publicly advocates for abortion funding; Catholic Charities' senior policy advisor even sat on the board of the Coalition. And former long-time Catholic Charities president Larry Snyder was shown to be a trustee of America's Promise Alliance, a group that promotes contraception and gay activism.

In 2013, Catholic Charities came under fire for inviting Fr. Greg Boyle — a dissenting priest who has publicly pushed for female ordination and homosexual unions — to be a keynote speaker at its annual gathering.

Sister Jeanine Gramick, co-founder of the pro-gay dissident New Ways Ministry, which has been condemned by the Holy See, has gone so far as to say: "Catholic Charities in general have been the most progressive wing of the church other than the nuns. In some cases, Catholic Charities USA has supported our events. I feel they personally are pro-gay but they can’t do this publicly."

The non-profit — whose services are meant to help the poor — offers sizeable salaries to its leadership. According to the group's Form 990 for 2014, Fr. Snyder received nearly $400,000 in compensation, while the Chief Operating Officer made a similar amount. Every other member on the governing board made salaries in the six digits.


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