The Radical Beginnings of the CCHD

News: Commentary
by Christine Niles  •  •  November 18, 2017   

Catholics should not be giving to the annual collection

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Most Catholics know about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) by its annual financial appeal in local parishes across the country. The faithful, with good intentions, drop their money into the collection plate, expecting it to go towards helping the poor and feeding the hungry — work the CCHD claims to promote. Most Catholics don't realize, however, that part of that money is going to groups that push abortion, contraception or homosexuality — and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which runs the CCHD, not only knows about it, but seems to do little about it year after year.

The roots of the CCHD go all the way back to the mid-20th century, to a man named Saul Alinsky, a Jewish American radical known as the father of community organizing. He personally had no use for religion (he was an atheist), but he found religion extremely useful in pushing his marxist ideology. He became closely involved in the archdiocese of Chicago, working with socialist-minded Catholic priests to promote his radical agenda — an agenda that included population control, contraception and abortion, among other things.

In 1940, he founded the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a community organizing association that was nothing more than a religious front group to push his marxist vision. It was during his work with the IAF that he met one Fr. Jack Egan, a priest with whom he'd form a lifelong friendship. Egan became so enamored of Alinsky's aims he came to be known as Alinsky's "priest-intern," his protegé. Egan was named to the board of trustees of the IAF, and it was Egan who convinced Alinsky to pen his well-known manifesto "Rules for Radicals" — a book Alinsky dedicated to Lucifer, "the very first radical."

It was Msgr. Egan who convinced the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) in 1969 to start an annual national collection to raise money for poverty-fighting programs. Thus was born the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The CCHD was initially supposed to be a temporary project, collecting donations for a few years before closing down. It also presented itself as the NCCB's poverty-fighting arm, when in truth, its real purpose was to be a permanent source of funding for Alinsky's IAF.

Initially called the Campaign for Human Development, the USCCB tacked on the word "Catholic" to its name in the 1990s in order to give the group a veneer of orthodoxy; the group had been tainted with bad press after decades of criticism for promoting leftist causes. In fact, William Simon, treasury secretary under President Richard Nixon and a devout Catholic, said of the CCHD in the 1980s that it was a "funding mechanism for radical left-wing political activism in the United States, rather than for traditional types of charities."

Forty years on, the CCHD hasn't changed its tune, and even appears to be getting worse rather than better, continuing to send thousands of dollars to pro-gay, pro-contraception, pro-abortion groups.

Originally published February 2, 2016

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