Rey Flores’ story is remarkable. In November 2009, at the height of the CCHD funding scandal, Mr. Flores, as the incoming Program Director of Chicago’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development, joined in signing an open letter taking issue with those who had challenged CCHD’s funding practices. The letter contained some forceful passages:
"Recently, CCHD has come under attack from certain groups whose motivations and objectives are rooted in partisan politics, rather than faithfulness to Catholic teaching and concern for the poor. These groups have gone so far as to call for the elimination of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, making erroneous and inflammatory statements about the program, its supporters, and the projects it funds. Despite efforts on the part of the CCHD staff to reach out to these critics and respond to their concerns, anti-CCHD rhetoric has only become more fervent and hateful, and the time has come to rally in defense of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”
The letter also referred to “the deceitful cries of these detractors, whose partisan agendas supersede their faith.” The intensity of the letter makes Mr. Flores subsequent actions all the more striking. Unfortunately for the uncritical supporters of the CCHD, but fortunately for the Church, Mr. Flores proved to be a man of good faith and a responsible director. He actually took the documentation provided by groups such as Reform CCHD Now and the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (not to mention CCHD’s own guidelines) seriously, and discovered that they were not “allegations” at all but provable statements of fact. Flores went further. According to LifeSiteNews, he personally investigated a group called the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). SWOP received CCHD grants in 2008 and 2009. Among other things, the SWOP was implementing a school program called Elev8 at Marquette Elementary School. The Elev8 clinic provides sex education, distributes condoms and oral contraceptives, and refers for abortion. Access Community Health, which provides contraceptives to children without parental guidance, was chosen by SWOP to operate the clinic.
Flores acted. On November 12, 2010, LifeSiteNews reported: “When vetting SWOP, Flores called the health clinic at Marquette, posing as the father of a grade 7 student who might be pregnant. The nurse told him ‘in no uncertain terms’ that if his ‘daughter’ was pregnant, they could refer her to the nearest abortion provider. ..Otherwise they could get her ‘the pill’ if he wanted.” Armed with this information, Flores strongly opposed the continuation of any CCHD grants to SWOP. One would have thought that his diligence and proactive approach would have been applauded, but that turned out not to be the case. Over his objections, the group received a $45,000 CCHD grant for 2010. LifeSiteNews quoted Flores: “Despite strong recommendations against this funding and clear requests from the Chicago CCHD office that the national CCHD further investigate SWOP and its Elev8 activities, the national CCHD saw it fit to award the grant anyway.”
Mr. Flores is now the former director of the Chicago CCHD. Details of his firing or resignation have not been made public, but his position as director ended sometime in October. Despite this, he continues to believe in the work of the CCHD, but has also noted that "the lack of respect for the sanctity of life and the destruction of the necessary societal institutions of traditional marriage and family are the major reason for the moral, physical and spiritual poverty we suffer in the western world.”
Mr. Flores is an “on-the-ground” Catholic social activist, and he is not alone. On January 19, 2010 California Catholic Daily released a portion of an email from a former employee of the Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC). The MHNC was the recipient of funding awarded at the behest of the San Francisco Organizing Project, a group that has received funding from the San Francisco CCHD, and is in partnership with the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The email said in part: “As a former employee of this agency I can affirm that they are doing referrals to Planned Parenthood. I could no longer tolerate these practices and I had to part ways with them…. What is sad is that the majority of Hispanic underserved and homeless patients are Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations opposed to abortion ….”
The author shared Flores’ moral clarity “There is absolutely no ‘good work’ which outweighs the sanctity of life. It is the holy intent of God the Father, creator and source of all life that his children with all their potential to cure the ills of this world be sent here to do his will.”
Both of these admirable and experienced men believe in the CCHD, but they also realized that there were groups funded by the CCHD whose activities were simply incompatible with the Catholic Church. When men such as these have to leave their jobs at the CCHD or at CCHD funded organizations, it's hard for me to believe that the CCHD is the best place for my donations.
Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney