Catholic Bishops Pull Funding for ACORN

You may have heard the name ACORN being tossed around throughout the recent election. ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is an organization that advocates for low and moderate-income families by working on a wide variety of issues from affordable housing to neighborhood safety to voter registration.

After complications with voter registration, ACORN was being investigated for voter fraud. However, the organization insists that while they are not perfect, they have been cooperative in investigations of employees who turn in fraudulent voter registrations.

Nevertheless, Senator John McCain, Governor Sarah Palin, and other right wingers continue to accuse ACORN of voter fraud, implicate the organization as one of the causes of the economic downturn, and insist the President-elect Barack Obama had close ties to this “shady” organization.

Now that the election is over, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have pulled their funding of ACORN. On November 11, Bishop Roger Morin submitted a statement which said:

The Subcommittee also became concerned about widespread reports of ACORN involvement in alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship. As a result of the cut-off earlier this year, no CCHD funds were involved in any of these activities. However, the allegations intensified our questions and problems around ACORN’s organizational integrity, competence and non-partisanship. Therefore, we extended the cut off of CCHD funding of any ACORN organizations.

The Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee met November 8-9 and reviewed this matter at length and discussed it in depth. The Bishop members of the Subcommittee voted unanimously to reaffirm, extend and formalize the decision to end CCHD funding of ACORN organizations because of serious concerns about financial accountability, organizational performance and political partisanship. While not all the specifics can be known, we simply had too many continuing questions and concerns about these serious matters to permit CCHD funding of ACORN groups. This cut off means that no CCHD grants were given to ACORN groups this year (using funds from the 2007 CCHD collection) and no funds from the coming collection (to be taken up in on November 23-24 in many dioceses) will go to ACORN in any place or at any level.

Political partisanship? The bishops do not really have room to talk on that front seeing that over 80 bishops either directly or indirectly urged Catholics not to vote for the pro-choice candidate (i.e. Barack Obama).

So, we are left to wonder whether the bishops really do have a sincere concern for the ethics of ACORN or whether they are really just working to support the Republican cause to defame ACORN and President-elect Obama by extension.

kchildsgraham@gmail.com'

Kate Childs Graham writes for the National Catholic Reporter and YoungAdultCatholics-Blog. She also serves on the Women?s Ordination Conference board of directors and the Call to Action Next Generation Leadership Team.