Catholic Charities

The headline of the Catholic World News article (here) said: “Catholic Charities: fundraising campaign to assist migrants, refugees.” They will spend about $8 million. The article proudly notes that Catholic organizations have opposed President Trump’s executive order on refugees. The article says that Catholic Charities USA is “the network of diocesan charitable agencies.”

Out of curiosity, I looked up Catholic Charities USA in Wikipedia. This caught my eye: “In 2010, Catholic Charities had revenues of $4.7 billion, $2.9 billion of which came from the US government.” Over 60% of its funding was from the U.S. government. Why are taxpayer dollars being given to Catholic Charities? Even if you disagree with US policy on immigration, why should federal dollars be given to a private organization to counter US policy?

Note that this is not a matter of medical payments to a Catholic hospital, or similar circumstances involving payment for technical services in which the Catholic organization has special expertise. Catholic Charities is largely contracting for services to aid the immigrants, and government agencies at the federal, state, and often local levels have at least as much expertise in this area as Catholic Charities, and could probably do the job more efficiently and without the added religious overhead.

The government funding in question came from the Faith-Based Initiatives Office. This is a White House office, part of the Executive Office of the President. It was established by the executive order of President George W. Bush. It is basically a way of using taxpayer dollars to support the religious right, and to reward their political support. It violates the principle of separation of church and state, and invites abuse and corruption. There is virtually no monitoring of these funds.

The Faith-Based Initiatives Office has virtually no accountability. Being part of the Executive Office of the President, it does not even have to report its budget – and refuses to do so (here). It helps the Republicans purchase the loyalty of the religious right using taxpayer dollars. President Obama refused to reform the organization, preferring to keep the slush fund, even if it was generally used to support the Republican party.

I am reminded of American foreign aid provided during the cold war. A good deal of the aid was actual US goods, such as bags of grain. When the bags left the US, they were clearly labeled as American products. By the time they reached their destination, however, the packaging often indicated another source with Communist affiliations. In effect, US taxpayers were buying good will for our Communist enemies. We’re getting screwed again. This time Donald Trump and the Republicans are the main beneficiaries.