The Archdiocese of Portland will limit Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants to anti-poverty projects that have a demonstrable link with the Catholic Church.

Funds will go to Catholic organizations or those with strong Catholic connections through local parish or vicariate involvement. Applicants will be asked to submit a letter of support from a Catholic parish or organization.

“Priority will be given to organizations in which Catholic parishes are involved,” said Matt Cato, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace. Cato oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in western Oregon.

“Our intention is to encourage and facilitate the direct involvement of the Catholic community in peace and justice work lifting the poor out of poverty,” Cato said.

The decision from Archbishop Alexander Sample comes to help ensure that funding goes only to organizations whose other endeavors are not at odds with church teaching. In past years, some concerned Catholics have raised questions about certain organizations that have received campaign grants in the Archdiocese of Portland.

Todd Cooper, aide to the archbishop, said one of the organizations had a young staffer who put out comments on social media that raised questions about pro-life values, while another grant winner used hardball tactics that the church could not embrace.

Cooper said the new criteria are needed to help ensure that parishioner donations are associated with activity in accord with the full span of Catholic teaching. As a result of the new criteria, Cooper said, the church may lose some of its relationships with community organizations that are outside the usual orbit of Catholicism.

Those partnerships have been enriching, said Cato. Since it began in 1970, CCHD distributed has more than $6 million in western Oregon to projects seeking to lift people out of poverty. Grants have gone to groups that advocate for immigrants, encourage home ownership, give small business loans, train workers for better jobs and support small scale farming.

The new criteria apply directly to organizations that will be considered for local CCHD grants, usually gifts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The national CCHD office, which is a program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will not change its rules, but the archdiocese is an advocate for western Oregon groups that apply for national funds. With Cato’s help, the region’s organizations have been successful in winning national CCHD grants, which can be as much as $75,000. Cato also sometimes recommends not funding an applicant for a national grant, a decision he has made a half-dozen times.

The loss of relationships with some non-church groups may be only temporary. Cooper says the archdiocese will try to encourage parish involvement in organizations doing good work. If organizations can form a substantial partnership with a parish, they may again become eligible for CCHD money and the archdiocese’s stamp of approval for national grants. The parish connection would add another layer of assurance that the entity operates in accord with church values, Cooper explained.

What constitutes a meaningful relationship between a parish and an agency is still being discussed. But Cooper said an organization with many parishioners involved and that is promoted in the parish may qualify. The pastor’s blessing or the presence of a parish priest on the board of directors would be another positive sign, he said.

Cooper and Cato say the new criteria may be a chance to spread the laudable principles of CCHD. According to longstanding campaign rules, organizations receiving grants must include in their leadership some of the people being helped. And projects that get funds must address root causes of poverty, not simply offer charity.

Cato said organizations that qualify for CCHD grants give people “a hand up, not a handout.”

“There is nothing wrong with handouts and charity. The church is good at that. But we need to move beyond that,” Cooper said. “We need to get involved in addressing the root causes of poverty.”

Cato views the changes as an opportunity to see faith-based community organizing grow in parishes. Faith-based community organizing is prevalent in the Midwest, the East, and California.

The Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good and St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Northeast Portland are the only current local examples of faith-based community organizing, Cato said. He also noted two faith-based social enterprises as models for the future: the Zomi Catholic Community and a Catholic Charities-sponsored restaurant for people with disabilities.