Catholic Church collects $1.6 billion in U.S. contracts, grants since 2012

Catholic Charities says they can't fulfill their mission without financial assistance from the government
Amid Pope Francis' first-ever visit to the U.S. this week, some analysts are digging into the books to note the amount of money the American government doles out to Catholic charities every year. (Photo by David Goldman/Associated Press)

Amid Pope Francis’ first-ever visit to the U.S. this week, some analysts are digging into the books to note the amount of money the American government doles out to Catholic charities every year. (Photo by David Goldman/Associated Press)

The following comes from a September 24 Washington Times article by Kelly Riddell:


Not to be lost in the pomp and circumstance of Pope Francis’ first visit to Washington is the reality that the Catholic Church he oversees has become one of the largest recipients of federal largesse in America.

The Church and related Catholic charities and schools have collected more than $1.6 billion since 2012 in U.S. contracts and grants in a far-reaching relationship that spans from school lunches for grammar school students to contracts across the globe to care for the poor and needy at the expense of Uncle Sam, a Washington Times review of federal spending records shows.

Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York once famously noted in 1980 that the government funded 50 percent of Catholic Charities’ budget, commenting “private institutions really aren’t private anymore.” Today, those estimates remain about the same, according to Leslie Lenkowsky, who served as the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service under George W. Bush.

Catholic Charities USA, the largest charitable organization run by the church, receives about 65 percent of its annual budget from state and federal governments, making it an arm of the federal welfare state, said Brian Anderson, a researcher with the Manhattan Institute.

However, Mr. Anderson argues, because the Catholic Church and its charities are so ingrained in the U.S. government’s welfare system, it’s hard to reform and better it. For example, in 1996 Catholic Charities lobbied heavily against welfare-reform law and met with then-President Clinton to help derail it. At the time, a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Fred Kammer, who is now the director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University, said the welfare-reform law would be “a national social catastrophe. No one will be spared the consequences.”

There’s also friction between state and church, with Catholic charities taking on such a prominent role in the government’s welfare system.

“If a religious institution is required to do something that is in conflict of its religious views, it may opt out from receiving federal funding or make the pragmatic decision to stay in to get the funding,” said Mr. Lenkowsky.

For example, most of the Catholic charities in Illinois have decided to close down their adoption programs rather than comply with a state requirement that says they can no longer receive state funding if they turn away same-sex couples for adoptive services or foster care.

“On one hand the government can’t make any laws infringing on someone’s civil liberties, but it also has to protect free expression of religion, and those are in tension in the age of the welfare state, where you are contracting with a religious organization to deliver secular social services,” Mr. Lenkowsky said. In many of these cases, it will be up to the courts to decide, he added.

Georgetown University, the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit University, broke with church doctrine in order to accommodate for civil rights.

When faced with the decision to officially recognize a student homosexual group on its campus, it decided to formally recognize it for fear it would be in violation of Washington, D.C.’s civil rights law and anti-discrimination protections. The school wanted to build a new dormitory at the time and needed municipal bonds to secure it.

For Catholic Charities USA, the priority of helping those in need trumps all, and they can’t fulfill that mission without financial assistance from the government.

“While Catholic Charities agencies, and many other faith-based non-profits, will continue to work with families and individuals on the brink, we know that in order for our nation to truly make a significant change in the numbers of those in poverty, we need support and commitment from the for-profit sector and from government. We cannot do this alone,” the group said in a statement to The Times.


  1. No it is not a recipient of federal largess.
    The US government has these grants that Catholic agencies apply for.
    Someone is going to get the money to do the work.
    Catholic agencies do a very good job of handling the monies responsibly and achieving the purposes that the government desires to be accomplished.

  2. BIG BUSINESS. FOLLOW the MONEY. – $ 1.6 BILLION in FEDERAL Grants since 2012. “ON the SERVICE of CHARITY” went into effect Dec 2012. CCHD, Catholic Charities, and CRS are in violation.
    “Article 10 § 3. In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.”

  3. “ON the SERVICE of CHARITY” – ” The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance.”
    “Art 9 § 3. It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.”

  4. This is why so many BISHOPS support “ILLEGAL” Immigration.
    Money in their coffers.

    • Maryanne Leonard says:

      Ted B., yours is a post unworthy of the time it takes to read it. Our Catholic clergy, as a rule, are motivated by an excess of compassion and concern for Catholics, and a lack of understanding that no nation can accept millions of people invading its borders without serious effects. Supporting lawbreakers is their error, not a passion for collecting more money from the government. We Catholics spend more money on charity, largely provided by the laity, than any other entity on earth, including all governments combined. The money the U.S. government gives Catholic institutions is but a drop in the bucket. For the good Catholics do for others, the pittance is financially and morally supportable.

      • Maryanne, there is no compassion for others when they support ILLEGAL immigration and Open Borders. And politic for the same.
        ILLEGAL immigration fosters sex trafficking, drug trafficking, splitting up of families, murder, Latino gang membership growth, etc.
        This is not compassion.
        Follow the Money !

  5. Money has become an IDOL for many Bishops and their Staff in the USA.
    All they care about is growing the USCCB’s – CRS, Catholic Charities, and
    CCHD at the expense of US taxpayers.

    Let the Federal Government do its own job.
    Let the Catholic Church concentrate on Saving Souls.

  6. It’s all about money. The USCCB support for ILLEGAL immigration,
    and some Bishops who support evil politicians who promote INTRINSCALLY evil agendas.

    It is all related, and we Catholics have to wake up.
    Stop donating to USCCB charities, so that US Bishops will fully concentrate on Saving Souls instead of worshipping the god of money.

  7. Looks like hush money to me. The Church bishops keep their moral mouths shut or pocketed while they take the big money and keep making excuses for the Left and Obama. it is a major scandal. Planned Parenthood does the same thing as a “charity.” they take $500 million per year and then launder it for use in campaigns to elect DEM pro-aborts.

  8. John Patrick says:

    By accepting money from the government, rather than from donors who voluntarily wish to help the poor, the Catholic Charities has become an arm of pagan government and are unable to control their own organization. Salvation Army doesn’t get government money and are able to run their wonderful charitable organization, while actually helping the poor and families, providing job training. I have no hesitation in donating to the Salvation Army.

    • From what I have read in the past, the Salvation Army is not pro life on the abortion issue, so I would be careful what I give to them. You had better make sure the money goes directly for food, clothing or shelter.

  9. Back in the days of the Nat’l Catholic Welfare Conference, Msgr John Ryan sold out CAtholic “welfare” to the God of Mammon by agreeing to take gvt funds, distribute them through incipent Church agencies. And so it has gone since.
    The problem is that that God of Mammon has always devoured her offspeing which explains that obvious problems now: accept our premises or be cut off.
    The question: which way will the Church go? And we all know the answer. Catholc Charities in choosing to close rather than allow children for adoption by persons practicing homosexual behavior was a rare acception. t

  10. Michael McDermott says:

    When you take Caesar’s Coin – beware Caesar’s Tribute, it may demand more than just money.

  11. Our government is out of hand. Where is this in the US Constitution?

  12. Sorry folks, but too many comments on this thread are inaccurate. The government does not give the “church” free money to do with as it pleases. Almost all money received by Catholic Charities, for example, is grant money, competitively applied for, to achieve certain goals, like teach English as a second language, provide help to immigrants to get homes and jobs, etc. These are programs that the government wants, and go out to bid to agencies that do that kind of work. Other money is for programs that the agencies want to run for those in their area, and the apply for grants.

    • All of these grants require thorough accounting and reporting on a regular basis. Check the website of your local Catholic Charities and you will see their annual tax return. Check with the charities Navigator rating agency and you will find Catholic Charities to be among the best agencies in the country. Local Priests never get any of this money. If they are living high off the hog, they are getting it from Sunday collections. We could ask Catholic Charities to stop applying for ANY money from the government. Then who would do the work? Catholics are known for not giving anywhere near a tithe on a monthly basis.

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