Archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic Chicago Blog

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chicago’s CCHD Collection redefines poverty from a Catholic perspective

By Rey Flores

Material Poverty + Spiritual Poverty = The Problem of Poverty

This weekend, the Church’s domestic anti-poverty initiative, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, will have its annual second-collection throughout the entire Archdiocese of Chicago. As Thanksgiving approaches, this is a great opportunity to reflect on all of the blessings we have, and to remember -and help- those who are less fortunate.  But does it end there?

Today, people aren’t just suffering from an earthly economic poverty; we are all hungry and thirsty for God’s love and truth in our lives. Pope Benedict XVI says it best in his new encyclical Caritas in Veritate – Charity in Truth: Development must include not just material growth, since the human person is a “unity of body and soul” born of God’s creative love and destined for eternal life.

In an increasingly secularist society where Christian morality and spirituality are disregarded and attacked, we are called to address poverty in all of its forms. If any of the Catholic institutions of human dignity, respect for life, and the family unit are lost, the problem of poverty will grow.

The root causes of poverty from a secularist point of view will differ from how Catholics see it. This isn’t about liberalism or conservatism; it’s about what Cardinal George calls in his new book, The Difference God Makes, “simply Catholicism”.

Chicago’s CCHD is rooted in the ideals of Catholic Social Teaching and aims to deconstruct systems of oppression which entrench people in poverty.  This approach goes beyond charity, giving people the opportunity to help themselves by fighting systemic injustices that keep them poor. This is the difference between a “hand out” and a “hand up”; between dependency on the government and subsidiarity.

Our goal is certainly to help the poor, but in the process, we must guarantee that Catholic morals are maintained. Organizations funded by the CCHD, through the generous contributions of Catholics, will be thoroughly evaluated and consistently monitored, ensuring that they uphold every facet of Catholic Moral and Social Teaching.  No organizations that directly promote laws or behavior contrary to Catholic Teaching will be funded.

Our task at the Chicago CCHD is three-fold; to assist communities in breaking the cycle of poverty, to promote Catholic Social Teaching, and to advocate for human dignity. We need to make sure our faith shapes our political action, not the other way around. We cannot forget that our first and foremost goal as Catholics is not some earthly vision, ideological cause, or political party, but the greater glory of the kingdom of God.

Stay updated with the Chicago CCHD this coming year with a new website, year-round online donations and other educational workshops and fundraising activities. Contact Rey Flores at 312-534-3690 or email me at

Thank you in advance for your generous contributions this year, and may God bless you.