Theologians and others associated with Jesuit universities have joined with the partisan group Faith in Public Life to defend Catholic grants to grassroots organizing groups, despite concerns that some recipients have undermined Catholic teaching. Faith in Public Life has issued a report lamenting the declining support for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The report blames pro-life and other groups for complaints that the grant program has supported groups directly or indirectly opposed to Catholic teaching on abortion, marriage and other issues. But Faith in Public Life has long been allied with Catholic and other religious groups that oppose the Church on key public policy issues. Launched by political activists following the defeat of pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, the group encourages support for Democrat policies among religious Americans. Thomas Chabolla, former associate director of the CCHD and now assistant to the president of the Service Employees International Union, serves on the board of Faith in Public Life. The author of the new CCHD report is John Gehring, a former media relations officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Gehring last year tried to convince news reporters that the Catholic bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” was a partisan effort to impact the 2012 presidential election. In fact, the Fortnight rallied support for the religious freedom of Catholic colleges, hospitals and other apostolates — and it will be repeated this month in a non-election year. Also last year, a group with apparent ties to Faith in Public Life attacked The Cardinal Newman Society as “a powerful network of right-wing Catholics” when the Society opposed Georgetown University’s invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a graduation speaker. In a post at MoveOn.org, Michael Sherrard of “Faithful America” — who told donors to send gifts to the mailing address of Faith in Public Life — also complained of the Newman Society’s leadership in opposing the University of Notre Dame’s commencement honors to President Barack Obama in 2009.
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