Controversy Continues on USCCB Official’s "Involvement" in Pro-Abortion Group

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 10, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Controversy Continues on USCCB Official’s "Involvement" in Pro-Abortion Group

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 10
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The controversy over allegations by a coalition of pro-life groups that a USCCB official has been involved in an organization (whose primary purpose isn’t promoting abortion but supports abortion anyway) continues. John Carr finds himself still under question though pro-life leaders have come to his defense.

The American Life League and other pro-life groups charge that John Carr, of the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, held leadership roles in the Center for Community Change, which supports abortion.

The controversy also centers on the fact that Carr oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has been found to be financially supporting organizations with pro-abortion views. has repeatedly requested comment from Carr or the USCCB and has not received a response.

Neither has the National Catholic Register, which reported on the matter on Tuesday with the blaring headline, "USCCB Still Refuses to Comment on Carr Allegations."

Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life, came to Carr’s defense in a blog posting that contained comments from Carr.

"My experience with CCC was that it focused on poverty, housing and immigration and had no involvement in issues involving abortion," Carr says according to a quote posted on Pavone’s blog.

"When I served, the board never discussed or acted on any position involving these matters and if they had, I would have vigorously opposed any advocacy for access to abortion," Carr continues.

"I have spent my personal and professional life defending human life and dignity and Catholic teaching, including current efforts to keep abortion funding out of health care reform. I regret that once again the failure to contact me or CCHD has led to unfair allegations in attempts to undermine the essential work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development," Carr said.

Pavone confirms that Carr is pro-life in his own commentary on the subject.

"I have had many opportunities to talk to and listen to John over the years, in public and in private, to read his articles, and to discuss our common goal of seeing social justice and peace applied to our neighbors in the womb. His record is clear, and unlike some others, when he talks about justice and peace and human development, he does not fail to include the unborn," he contends.

Pavone also posts a comment from Richard Doerflinger, the Associate Director of the Secretariat for Pro-life Activities of the US Bishops’ Conference.

Doerflinger says the criticism of Carr is unfair because the Center for Community Change only starting promoting abortion after Carr’s tenure.

"The facts behind the allegations about John Carr are simple enough: He was once on the board of an anti-poverty organization that did good work for providing food and housing and promoting rights for immigrants," the pro-life USCCB official explains.

Then, "long after he left the board, the group got into advocacy for abortion."

"To turn this into a charge against John Carr is ridiculous," Doerflinger says.

But Michael Hichborn, lead researcher for the American Life League, told NCR yesterday that Carr’s pro-life stance is not the issue.

“None of this has been done to question whether the individuals involved are pro-life,” he said. “That’s a distraction, and we’re not questioning that. We only care about what they are doing and the decisions that have been made.”

He told the Catholic newspaper that his group, along with Human Life International and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, are more concerned about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Another ALL official, Katie Walker, told NCR that the real question is why CCHD, under Carr’s leadership, funded pro-abortion groups. She questioned grants from CCHD and 31 organizations that are “partners” with the Center for Community Change that support abortion.

“If Carr didn’t know the direction the CCC was headed while chairing the board of the organization, how will he address, as the head of the CCHD, the ongoing problem of funding for radical pro-abortion, pro-homosexual groups?” Walker said.

Meanwhile, pro-life Catholic writer Deal Hudson of Catholic Advocate, still has questions.

He points out that the USCCB is a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), which lobbies the Congress and White House in favor of abortion.

"In short, the LCCHR lobbies on behalf of abortion rights," he wrote this week. "The question naturally arises: Why did the bishops’ conference join this organization? When LCCHR staff sit in front of a member of Congress, they can legitimately say they are representing the Catholic bishops."

Ultimately, the controversy and the back and forth between pro-life groups and leaders will hopefully serve as a reminder to the pro-life community to engage in due diligence.

Organizations that are set up to ostensibly help the poor, serve as unions for employees, promote teachers and education, or promote cures for diseases frequently engage in pro-abortion or pro-embryonic stem cell research advocacy.

It is incumbent upon the pro-life community to ensure that both involvement in and donations from pro-life individuals or groups do not go to these organizations that eventually either take positions or promote legislation, events or candidates that promote anti-life agendas.

When it comes to the federal and state government, the pro-life community has a long-standing policy, for example, of opposing funding to Planned Parenthood — even for non-abortion activities — because the money to the abortion business is fungible.

The same applies to funding from Catholic or other organizations. With the pro-life movement lacking the same financial resources as the abortion industry, every dollar is important and having money go to groups that oppose the pro-life mission means one more day abortions continue.

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