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LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The diocese of Lansing is distancing itself from the organization Black Lives Matter (BLM), which has been waging public war against the diocese for three years, as well from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has generously funded left-wing groups in Lansing for at least the last decade.
"The diocese cannot give its corporate endorsement to the organization Black Lives Matter," the diocese said in a June 23 e-mail in response to queries from Church Militant about the group.
"As set out in its 'What We Believe' statement," the diocese continued, "many of its policy declarations are inimical to a Catholic understanding of human dignity, personal happiness and the common good, most notably the organization's stance on matters relating to marriage, the family and human sexuality including its promotion of a transgender ideology."
The public announcement against BLM and the severing of ties to CCHD are significant because they are a dramatic new stance for the diocese, prodded in large measure by investigative reports published by Church Militant labeled "River of Filth" Part 1 and Part II.
Church Militant's investigations showed that great harm to the diocese and Lansing Catholic High School resulted directly from Action of Greater Lansing, a nonprofit which received $260,000 in CCHD-grant money approved by Bp. Earl Boyea from 2012 through 2018. Action is based at Christo Rey parish where for many years its now-retired pastor Fr. Fred Thelen championed left-wing causes, including LGBT advocacy, when he was also president of the Michigan chapter of Pax Christi.
LaShawn Erby, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter in 2014, was hired by Fr. Thelen as executive director of Action in 2017. While she was on the Action payroll, she helped organize public protests against Lansing Catholic High School that centered on four black, student-athletes who "took a knee" during the 2017 and 2018 football and basketball seasons.
The students instantly became local celebrities in Michigan media and are known today as the LCHS4. According to a comment posted on the Black Lives Matter Lansing Facebook page, Lansing Catholic is involved in litigation over the protests. During recent hysteria and BLM-led riots nationally, the Lansing chapter's Facebook page has included harsh criticism of the high school, accusing it of being racist.
Two other left-wing groups involved with politicking on issues contrary to Church teaching also received substantial funding from the diocese of Lansing since Bp. Earl Boyea became bishop: Michigan Interfaith Voice, $100,000; and Michigan Faith in Action, $410,000. A simple Google search for the names of organizers associated with these groups reveals they are almost invariably outspoken in support of abortion and all things LGBT.
For example, the Facebook page of Luke Allen, an organizer for Michigan Faith in Action going back several years, includes posts showing he is a strident supporter of abortion and all things LGBT, including the transgender ideology.
On March 5, Allen posted a photo of himself with the slogan "I'm voting for Bernie," and on March 8 he stated his choice of Bernie Sanders over Joe Biden in the upcoming Michigan presidential primary election was based on Sanders' stance on several issues, including "reproductive rights and LGBT rights."
Last fall, pastors of several parishes in the diocese were lobbied by faithful Catholics who asked them to publicly oppose CCHD before the annual CCHD collection, which takes place the week before Thanksgiving Day. This grassroots effort apparently had an impact on the chancery's curia, which decided at its monthly meeting in January to scuttle relations with the CCHD once and for all and replace it with a new effort based on Catholic principles.
According to a source, the bishop and curia decided to replace CCHD with some other vehicle that attempts to address issues of local poverty by applying Catholic social teaching to such issues, with the intent of applying the principle of subsidiarity to the process.
In May, Bp. Boyea announced the formation of the replacement for CCHD, which begin in the fall with a special collection in all parishes. At that time the diocese also informed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) it was severing ties with CCHD.
The new effort, Commission on Catholic Social Teaching, will be comprised of members named from throughout the diocese.
In a statement e-mailed June 23, the diocese said:
While there is some merit in promoting the common good through funding third-party, community organizations — as CCHD presently does — our prayer is that our recently launched Commission on Catholic Social Teaching will provide a new, different and innovative way of addressing poverty by forming future generations of faithful lay Catholics who are capable of bringing the love of Jesus Christ and the social doctrine of his Holy Church into all aspects of civil society so as to advance the common good of all.
Below is the full text of the statement released by the diocese regarding BLM, which stresses the Catholic Church's stance against the "wickedness of racism." The diocesan spokesman requested that Church Militant publish it in full:
As mandated by the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Holy Church, the diocese of Lansing categorically opposes the wickedness that is racism wherever it is to be found. Indeed, the foundation of Catholic social teaching is the infinite worth and intrinsic dignity of each and every human person, from conception to natural death; hence, black lives matter. Thus, the Catholic community across the United States has always stood in solidarity with anybody who peacefully pursues this just and noble cause. That said, the diocese cannot give its corporate endorsement to the organization Black Lives Matter. As set out in its "What We Believe" statement, many of its policy declarations are inimical to a Catholic understanding of human dignity, personal happiness and the common good, most notably the organization's stance on matters relating to marriage, the family and human sexuality, including its promotion of a transgender ideology.
Many of the parishes, clergy and lay faithful across the diocese of Lansing are currently undertaking six weeks of prayer and fasting in order to seek peace, justice and reconciliation for all the peoples of the United States in the lead-up to the anniversary of the death of Ven. Augustus Tolton (1854–1897), a former slave who became the first black priest in the United States, in recognition that the solution to all the ills of our dear, yet divided, nation lie in earnestly bringing our fears, our hopes, our anger, our tears, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.