Culture Wars win over Feeding the Hungry

There is a Jewish or Orthodox parallel somewhere. It sounds familial. There is something to take note of here. But the similar Jewish debates do not immediately spring to mind.

Bishops Play Defense On Anti-Poverty Initiative

(RNS) For four decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have maintained a nationwide program designed to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty. And for just as long, fierce critics have tried to kill it.

Proponents of the Catholic Campaign on Human Development (CCHD) say it exemplifies Jesus’ preference for the poor and downtrodden; opponents, including several bishops, say it funds left-wing activists, some of whom undermine church doctrine on homosexuality and abortion.

As the U.S. bishops’ flagship anti-poverty program, the CCHD is funded through a special collection taken up each year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Since 1970, the program has disbursed $290 million in grants, according to CCHD officials.

But the program’s practices and guiding philosophy have been sharply attacked by conservatives armed with Internet-enhanced research, a sharp nose for malfeasance, and a deep apprehension for anything that sniffs of socialism.

5 responses to “Culture Wars win over Feeding the Hungry

  1. So what alternative do they propose? Do they have some alternative idea that may be worth developing in our house?

  2. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?

    I thought the “faith-based initiatives” and “thousand points of light” were supposed to be the *alternative* to the creeping socialism of government entitlement programs, favored by conservatives. Now these “conservatives” are attacking church-based anti-poverty programs? Sounds like they’re devolving into the conservatives of premodern Europe, of the “let the poor starve” type.

    Oh, I see – it’s internal to the Church, and they’re critical of the receiving groups’ connections with other groups which offend Catholic doctrine, like pro-choice groups.

    The alternative would be to implement anti-poverty programs themselves, I guess.

  3. The alternative would be to implement anti-poverty programs themselves, I guess.

    Now I am confused. Isn’t the Catholic Campaign on Human Development already their alternative would be to implement anti-poverty programs themselves? Is it merely fundraising to support outside organizations, or their way to get actively involved?

  4. R’ Folger: I don’t know. Maybe the CCHD is only a collecting group. There are three aspects to distribution of charity: collection, distribution, and payment of expenses. The same group need not do all three, and in fact they often don’t.

    Take my mom (please) for instance. She runs the Lincoln Square Synagogue Food Funnel, which collects day-old bread from a kosher bakery, and runs food and clothing drives several times a year in the synagogue. Over the course of a year, they redistribute about 3 tons of bread and several tons of clothing.

    Her food drives take most of the day on a Sunday, and the synagogue has no homeless shelter or food pantry/soup kitchen to serve as a point where the food and clothing could be distributed to the poor. So the food and clothing go to other agencies which specialize in distribution, be they church soup kitchens, social welfare agencies, etc. Their expenses (small, mostly mailing and perhaps van rental for a Sunday), are paid for by the synagogue.

    It seems that CCHD must be a similar collection agency, and distributes through other agencies, and these Catholic protestors are bothered by the nature of some of the groups who are willing to distribute the food/clothing/money that CCHD collects. My mother gets the same kind of grief – members of the synagogue, and outsiders, who grouse “why are you giving to Christians? You should be giving to Jews!”

    Number one, the Shulchan Aruch says explicitly, we support the poor non-Jews alongside the poor Jews, because of the paths of peace.

    Number two, we would give to Jewish agencies if we could, but Jewish agencies are not equipped to handle the quantity we bring in, or those that do, are not in Manhattan, or, like NYANA, they get lots of seconds from the garment industry, and don’t want our used garments. So we give to whoever can take the stuff.

    You have a problem with that, O Internal Critics, you go ahead and start your own distribution agencies.

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