November 12th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

Politics divide U.S. Catholic bishops ahead of meeting

The nation’s bitter political divisions are driving a wedge between some of the most powerful leaders in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, according to the Religion News Service.

RNS writer Daniel Burke says several U.S. Catholic bishops charge that their church’s “flagship” anti-poverty program funds left-wing activists who subvert church doctrine on homosexuality and abortion.

The poverty program is called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The program has donated $290 million to groups combating poverty during the last four decades, according to RNS.

But the program has also attracted fierce church critics who are suspicious of anything that “sniffs of socialism,” the RNS article said.

Some of these critics have formed a coalition called “Reform the CCHD Now.” The coalition accuses some of the groups receiving CCHD funding of actions “antithetical to church teaching,” the RNS said.

At least 10 bishops have stopped CCHD collections in their diocese.

Michael Hichborn, a CCHD Now spokesman, said the church’s anti-poverty program was “philosophically flawed right from the outset”:

It never addresses sin as the root cause of poverty, which means it never addresses Christ as a remedy.

The ideological battle could move to the U.S. bishop’s annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland next week (Nov. 15-18), when CCHD officials will present a list of reforms to preserve the anti-poverty programs’ Catholic identity.

The RNS article raised two broad questions:

Is partisan politics playing of a role in the bishops' tussle over the church’s poverty program?

Should the church program identify sin as the root cause of poverty, and Christ as the remedy?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Abortion • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Homosexuality

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. k macri

    How sad the bishops don't have a clue, they live in rich homes, hob nob with them. None are leaders, the last leader was Cardinal Bernadine, maybe O'Malley with have the courage to stand up to them. The poor will always be with us through no fault of their own. Everyone needs shelter, food and clothing and we should all work together to see that they have them.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  2. Jay

    Babylon the Great... Your days are numbered.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  3. Frogist

    Seriously, I am tired of this ridiculous crock. Seems these people care very little about the poor. They care about their political standing above all else. Why else would they be using buzz words like "socialism" and worrying about the leftist agenda? They are less worried about people dying than they are worried about people thinking being gay is a sin... Or worse: thinking they are, god forbid, on the left. Disgusting. But what can you really expect from them? Protect the church first. If people die of hunger, especially during the Christmas season, well it's just the wages of sin. Hail Mary and move on to the next PR opportunity.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  4. Reality

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs/tenets.

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave attended to by his wives before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    November 15, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  5. Iqbal khan

    Following in the foot steps of Prophet Abraham or Ibraheem (PBUH) The Hajj one of the five pillars of Islam, please watch all the 5 parts...


    November 14, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  6. Iqbal khan


    November 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  7. Iqbal khan


    November 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  8. Tony de New York

    "Physical needs come first."===
    ============ NO, NO and NO!!!====
    ======================== 29And DO NOT SEEK what you are to eat and what you are to drink, NOR BE WORRIED. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, SEEK HIS KINGDOM, and these things will be added to you.
    San Luke 12, 29-31.

    November 14, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  9. oleg

    I absolutely respect Jesus, but he was only the god at one certain level of enlightenment. and there are infinite number of higher levels. Christianity can only take you to that certain level, but you have to be reborn again to go to upper levels.

    November 14, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  10. oleg

    to my knowledge not even monks in monasteries can save themselves, nowdays. human situation is very bad from god's point of view, the doom is totaly near...

    November 14, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  11. Gawd

    "Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" – Epicurus, 341-270 BCE

    November 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  12. john316

    The only subversion going on with these major religions ( Mormon, Catholic, Evangelicals, etc.) is their trolling the third world for more victims ( I mean converts...) All they need to do is wave something shiny in front of the poor/uneducated and they will believe in flying saucers if you want them to.......it's pathetic.........

    November 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  13. Reality

    The "priest mystic" is dead. It died with the ped-ophilia scandal.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Reality

    The USA taxpayers and their support for the domestic and global poor via their taxes significantly exceed any of the support given by the CCHD and there are no JC strings attached.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  15. David Johnson

    In our church, we preach that the rich are loved and blessed by god.

    Was not Job blessed with many possessions? Didn't God give Job brand new children, after his original ones were killed in a bet with Satan?

    This is why we must give tax breaks to the richest 3% of our population. To not do so, would be like slapping God in the face.

    The poor deserve to be wretched. Giving them ent_itlements like food stamps, and Welfare, only allows them to survive longer. This increases their suffering. If god wanted them to eat, would he not give them bread and fishes?

    My preacher says, we can already see the damned, even before Judgement Day! They are the poor! God has already judged them, and found them unworthy.

    So verily I say unto you, pass by that Salvation Army Kettle, Thumb your nose at the local Food Bank! Remember your God has blessed you, because he loves you!

    If God is okay with a child dying of starvation in his mother's arms, who are we to say different?

    Let us be thankful for the blessings God gives us. But let us also remember, we deserve these things.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @David Johnson
      Dude, you have a gift...and it is good of you to share it with us. Thx. 😀

      November 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      "In our church, we preach that the rich are loved and blessed by god."

      Join a new church. Listen to sermons from Mars Hill Church and the Village Church as to why that is wrong.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  16. Michael Hichborn

    I spent a long time discussing with the reporter what is meant by that statement, and unfortunately, everything I said was reduced to that phrase.

    The statement regarding the flawed philosophy of the CCHD was set in the larger context of the mission of the Catholic Church, which is the salvation of souls. ALL souls. However, by funding secular and humanist organizations which address only material concerns, the CCHD divorces itself from this larger mission of salvation. The CCHD states that its mission is to address the root causes of poverty, however it does not address that sin is the root cause and Christ is the remedy. This is not to say that the poor are poor because they are sinful and the rich are wealthy because they are virtuous (this would counter not only the senses but reason), but to say that there is poverty because there is sin in the world. There are sinful business owners who do not pay a just wage. There are sinful misers who do not perform the works of mercy; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, tending the sick and dying, and so forth. At the same token, there are those poor who are so because of their own addictions, laziness, self righteousness and self centeredness. We are ALL sinners, and the Church's concern is the salvation of souls ... not to merely be a philanthropic organization to fill people's bellies.

    While Mother Theresa of Calcutta was pulling the sick and the dying off the streets, she would ask them if they wanted to know about Our Blessed Lord. They would ask her if He is anything like her, to which she would answer, "No, but I try very much to be like Him." And so they would say, "then I should like to be a Christian, too."

    The point is that there can be no "social justice" without the Just Judge, which is Christ. Granting money to organizations which do not share the Church's evangelistic mission removes the Just Judge, and places a secular, mundane judge in His place.

    So, as you can see, my statement that, "It [CCHD] never addresses sin as the root cause of poverty, which means it never addresses Christ as a remedy," carries with it a much larger meaning that was left out (primarily due to space) from the article. I hope this explanation clarifies my meaning, and I am sorry for the unfortunate confusion that statement seems to have caused.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Michael Hichborn

      Thank you for clarifying those points for us. As for myself, I was only sniping at the Catholic Church and your "reduced" phrasing was just my point of departure... 😉

      You sound like a well-meaning person who is sincere in what you believe. However, I would like to point out that, in the Bible, Jesus told Peter to "feed, clothe, etc." his "sheep" – he did not say to proselytize throughout the world.
      So in the case of charity work, it is indeed more important to help people.
      That these points of mine appear to nullify the "larger context of the mission of the Catholic Church" should be cause for concern, yet I do not expect you or any other Catholic to address the obvious "hijacking" of what Jesus said to Peter.
      Paul is not Peter, yet without Paul, the CC would not exist as it does.
      What happened to Peter? Where did he go? Why is there nothing but letters and "testimony" from everyone BUT Peter???

      Anyway, thanks again for clarifying your remarks. It is rare for us to see postings from the people in the articles. Have fun with my questions if you like, you don't need to address them. They are for anyone who feels up to commenting on them. 😛

      November 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      Sum, so you believe what is written in John 21:17-19 but not Acts 2:14-41?

      November 15, 2010 at 10:10 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Acts, first Peter, second Peter nope nothing from Peter nothing.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  17. Reality

    The RCC bishops should be more concerned about the flaws and falacies in Catholic/Christian history and theology starting with atonement of sin by JC, original sin, celibate priests and subjugation of women by denying women the priesthood although considering that the RCC is fading fast, why would any woman want to become a priest?

    November 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  18. Sum Dude

    If sin causes poverty, then taking a vow of poverty must be sinful, blasphemous, heretical, and deserving of eternal damnation.

    If Jesus were the solution to poverty, then he must be made of cash and not anything else...prosperity gospel anyone?

    If the wages of sin are death, then Jesus, being the "solution" to sin, would stop people from dying. Not happening is it?

    Death puts paid to "sin" not Jesus, unless you want to avoid that particular passage in the Bible. lol

    And loving the sinner is no longer viewed as what the CC wants to do, eh? Not if the sinner sins, eh? Hypocrits and Pharisees! What a shock.

    November 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Felipe

      Hello Sum Dude,

      The quote ("It never addresses sin as the root cause of poverty") does not mean that a person's sinful actions are the cause of his personal hardships (though that happens sometimes). The Catholic Church has never taught that; that "Gospel of Wealth" is preached by some, but not by us. That quote is true in other understandings of the terms, of which, I will explain three.

      First, the BIG picture. Original sin (Adam & Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden) is the reason for man's fallen nature, i.e., separation from God. This grave poverty required Jesus Christ to die for our sin.

      Second, whose sin and whose poverty are we speaking of? The sins of one man harm himself and others (the Body of Christ is harmed when one member sins), even if the sin seems to "personal." E.g., my envy toward my neighbor harms me morally and it prevents me from loving my neighbor as I ought, so he is being neglected; this is true even if I never manifest my envy physically (e.g., by theft or rude behavior). Lack of charity is true poverty.

      Third, what is poverty? A lack of material needs is only one form of poverty. Lacking spiritual and emotional needs are also poverty, because man is a spiritual, rational animal with more needs than beasts. Poverty is the lacking of needs, no matter what those needs may be. A man's personal sins definitely do cause him spiritual and emotional poverty, as they can separate him from God and neighbor.

      Hope this helps clarify!

      Dios te bendiga!

      November 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • Disa

      Physical needs come first. If you are starving to death, spirituality isn't gonna do much to keep you alive.

      November 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Gerald

      You must be poor because your understanding and logic is atrocious. Ever read the story of the rich man and lazarus. The good bishop is well aware of that story. Try reading his comment in that context.

      November 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Yeah, I wasn't trying very hard – but I had fun writing that post. Thanks for responding. Like me, you picked out one thing and ran with it. Glad to see I'm not the only one who does that. 😛

      ha ha ha! You fell for my silly post. Thanks for your response. The story of the rich man and Lazarus was a parable that does nothing to counter anything I said nor does it prove anything in and of itself. Sorry you had to hear that from me, I would much rather that Jesus told you himself of these things. Good luck with getting comprehensible guidance through your religious beliefs. Faith does not require logic, reason, evidence, or understanding.
      Thanks for trying. Prayer might be more effective. (sarcasm) 😛

      November 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
  19. ScottK

    "It never addresses sin as the root cause of poverty, which means it never addresses Christ as a remedy"

    Wow!, Why didnt I see it before, you know, the obvious connection between sin and poor people, and how all the wealthy people are all so rightous. This is why so many people are turning away from religion, because it is so moronic and silly as to state that people living in poverty should just stop living in sin and they will be made well and wealthy. Idiots.

    November 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      The reason people are turning away is because they can't grasp it but yet assume to know it all.

      Lets take your comment.

      ", the obvious connection between sin and poor people, and how all the wealthy people are all so rightous."

      That is not the connection but that there is sin in the world greed that leads to poverty. So you make a false leap to assume that the commentor means all wealth is rightous and then put your false belief higher the the original correct comment.

      November 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • ScottK

      "Michael Hichborn, a CCHD Now spokesman, said the church’s anti-poverty program was “philosophically flawed right from the outset”: – He was the one being quoted in my comment above, and he was specificly refering to the poverty program which helps feed the poor and yet he says it is "flawed" because its not addressing Christ as the saviour to get the food. He is saying that the money and food and aid is wasted when it is given to people who won't convert.

      As for my other comment I was trying to be sarcastic, I guess I did not succeed.

      November 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Gerald

      Wow! are you clueless. All men are sinners. The good bishop is well aware of the story of the rich man and lazarus. Evidently you are not. Injustice of the rich causes poverty. What you lack in understanding you add to with prejudice.

      November 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • Geraldand

      ScottK, it's easy to flap your mouth on the internet. Why don't you go out and check to see how much food clothing and shelter, not to mention hospital beds the CC provides without asking conversion to the Church. Any clue? The Catholic Church provides more of these than any other organization! Fact.

      November 12, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.