Skip to comments.The Influence Of Saul Alinsky On The Campaign For Human Development
Posted on 02/18/2011 11:21:43 PM PST by verdugo
A broader concept and theology of ministry was emerging from Vatican II, one which gave new status and recognition to lay Catholics. The role of the clergy within this emerging theology was less than clear and a massive exodus from the priesthood began. In the U.S. an estimated 3,413 priests resigned from diocesan and religious priesthood between 1966 and 1993.(29) The departure of large numbers of men and women religious paralleled the departure from the priesthood.(30) Thus the acculturation of U.S. Catholics occurred amid a time of profound uncertainty, crisis, and change.
The Impact of Vatican II
For U.S. Catholics, it was not only their identity and location within public life that were in transition but their identity and location within the Church universal as well. The end of the immigrant Church in America coincided with the convening of Vatican II. Pope John XXIII's goal for the council was aggiornamento and renewal. Lasting four years and producing sixteen major documents, the council's reforms touched virtually every dimension of Catholic life. The impact of this reform on U.S. Catholics was overwhelming. They were expected to be open to ecumenical dialogue with partners traditionally viewed as enemies, to use an English-language liturgy, to promote a Church that supported lay initiative and leadership within a democratic ethos, a Church that identified with the "joy and hope, grief and anguish ... of those who are poor and afflicted in any way."(31) The council challenged them to move beyond acculturation within America to a broader acculturation within the modern world.
The council marked a shift in the Church's self-understanding. Implicit in Pope John's aggiornamento was a constructive encounter with modernity. Under Pius IX and Leo XIII the Church had taken a defensive position against post-Enlightenment thought. The dominant grounding for that position was a neo-Scholastic synthesis between faith and reason, a synthesis that provided a unified Catholic worldview that collapsed at Vatican II.(32) While there is some consensus about a postconciliar shift away from the primacy of natural law in theology to a more inductive, biblically based, interdisciplinary, democratic, and empirical theological methodology,(33) there has been substantial debate whether this shift has had a positive or negative impact and whether natural law itself remains a viable approach.(34) Still, as Langdon Gilkey recognized, "Catholicism ... has really for the first time tried to absorb the effects of this whole vast modern development from the enlightenment to the present in ... one frantic decade."(35)
At the end of this decade, the CHD was launched in November 1969. The moment called forth a new acculturated identity, as both U.S. and Catholic, and a new way of doing theology. It was either a time, as Gleason argued, of "identity crisis,"(36) that contained fundamental contradictions and problems or, as Dolan viewed it, a time that offered an opportunity for a "new Catholicism" in America.(37)
THE CAMPAIGN AND SAUL ALINSKY
On the occasion of the 25th-anniversary celebration of the CHD on August 25, 1995, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin delivered a keynote address in Chicago entitled "The Story of the Campaign for Human Development: Theological and Historical Roots."(38) He noted that, "as General Secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at the time, [he] was directly involved in this exciting endeavor."(39) As general secretary, his direct involvement consisted in the executive oversight of the design, development, and establishment of the CHD. Bernardin had been brought to the NCCB in 1968 by Archbishop John Dearden of Detroit, the conference president at the time, with a mandate to restructure the NCCB according to Vatican II theology.......
Bernardin's reference to Chicago as the place where the great "work of community-organizing began" was a direct reference to the Back of the Yards Council, the first organization built by Alinsky in the late 1930s.(46) His reference to the "many important networks and training centers" also highlights Alinsky since all of these centers have direct roots within his approach and methodology. As Heather Booth of Chicago's Midwest Academy stated, "Alinsky is to community-organizing as Freud is to psychoanalysis."(47) At the time of the founding of the CHD in 1969, there was only one training center in Chicago, Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Finally, Bernardin's fifth and last point directs our attention to years of collecting and distributing its funds in Chicago, years in which hundreds of thousands of CHD dollars had gone to support Alinsky-style organizations.(48) As Cardinal Bernardin's remarks highlighted, Alinsky had an impact upon the founding of the CHD. I will now illustrate the nature and scope of Alinsky's influence.
The Influence of Alinsky
Cardinal Bernardin did not address an earlier and pivotal role that the Archdiocese of Chicago had played at the outset of modern community-organizing. Alinsky's Back of the Yards Council in 1939 was a new type of organizing, an enterprise focused on institutional power, in which the capacity of the poor to act was built through their leadership in neighborhood institutions. When these institutions were organized as a single vehicle, the poor had the power to effect social change. Catholic parishes were crucial neighborhood institutions. In 1941 Alinsky wrote that "two basic social forces ... serve as the cornerstone ... to effect constructive changes in the life of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. These two elemental social institutions are, first, the Catholic church and, second, organized labor."(49) The Back of the Yards neighborhood was 90% Catholic, an immigrant neighborhood organized into national parishes. Each parish had its own national identity: Irish, Lithuanian, Slovak, German, and Mexican.(50) Alinsky observed that "the Catholic religion [was] the common spiritual denominator for the people of the community" and that Catholic parishes were organized "through the medium of the Back of the Yards Council ... as a solid bloc."(51)
...Catholic involvement was led by Bernard J. Sheil, auxiliary bishop of Chicago and honorary chairman of the Back of the Yards Council. Sanford Horwitt states that "Sheil's imprimatur gave Alinsky and Meegan's campaign added visibility and luster."(52) John L. Lewis also gave his imprimatur to the campaign. Lewis's Congress of Industrial Organizations was in the midst of a bitter organizational drive in Chicago's stockyards, and Lewis was scheduled to speak to the packing house workers to announce a national strike against the Big Four packers: Armour, Swift, Cudahy, and Wilson.(53) By engineering the public appearance of Sheil with Lewis and the founding convention of the Back of the Yards Council within three days of each other in May of 1939, Alinsky crafted a public linkage of organized labor and the Catholic Church, the two cornerstones of Chicago's Back of the Yards. Time reported that Sheil's involvement and his application of a papal encyclical (Rerum novarum) to Lewis's organizing drive "was making not only Chicago, but U.S. history."(54) Hours after the Lewis and Sheil appearance and immediately before the deadline of the strike threat, the meat industry capitulated.(55) The surrender of the meat-industry Goliath meant that Alinsky's David-like slum-neighborhood organization was publicly recognized as a power broker, an influential community organization. This was exactly the image and perception Alinsky wished. During these July days in 1939, as Bernardin remarked, "the great work of community-organizing began in Chicago."(56)
On the eve before the Back of the Yards Council's founding convention, the Chicago Daily News announced that "something new in community organization is about to happen in the Back of the Yards.... [T]he council is the conception and individual project of Saul D. Alinsky sky.... The residents of the district ... are almost completely stockyard workers and Catholics, and on this basis the sociologist [Alinsky] has enlisted churchmen and the CIO leaders to form the main pillars of the neighborhood council."(57) At the CHD's 25th anniversary, Bernardin would have been more historically precise if he had stated that the great work of modern community-organizing in America began in Chicago with the Catholic Church and organized labor.
Alinsky's success with the Council propelled him into national recognition as the organizer of what Agnes E. Meyer of the Washington Post called the "orderly revolution."(58) Alinsky's fame was bolstered by publication of his book Reveille for Radicals,(59) which became a national bestseller.(60) Jacques Maritain called it "epoch making."(61) Alinsky was a featured speaker at national Catholic convenings from this time through the 1960s.(62) Invitations to organize came from cities throughout the nation, and within every campaign Catholics played a prominent role.(63) Through these activities Alinsky developed hundreds of relationships with Catholic leaders. Alinsky's friendship with Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain is perhaps the most fascinating Catholic connection. As Bernard Doering has shown, Maritain and Alinsky were close friends and influenced one another's work. Doering's articles "Jacques Maritain and America-Friendships" and "Jacques Maritain and His Authentic Revolutionaries" raise fascinating questions and issues within and about this friendship, questions still to be answered.(64) Maritain was so enthralled with Alinsky's writing and organizing that in 1958 he personally urged Archbishop Montini of Milan, the future Pope Paul VI, to meet with Alinsky.(65) The Archbishop met with Alinsky in 1965 to explore whether community-organizing could work in Italy.(66)
Toward the end of his life Alinsky reminisced that "the biggest change I saw in the first twenty years or so that I was involved in social action is in the role of the churches.... In the 1960s they really moved into the social arena, the political arena. They took over the position organized labor had a generation ago."(67) That remark, coming from one who had written a biography of John L. Lewis, who had been involved in the coal battle between Lewis and Roosevelt, and who had organized in cities nationwide,(68) underscored the profound cultural upheavals of the 1960s.
As the churches took over the position of organized labor in the political arena, a new type of church minister appeared to succeed "labor priests" such as Fathers Owen Rice and George Higgins. The growth of community organizations in the 1960s was accompanied by "community organization priests" trained as leaders in organizing political and economic power. At the head of the movement of the U.S. Catholic Church into community-organizing was Alinsky's friend and priest protege, Monsignor Jack Egan of Chicago.(69)
Above are excerpts (from only page 1 to 5) of a 23 page article starting page 1 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6404/is_4_59/ai_n28718506/?tag=content;col1
The article is very thought provoking, though I have not yet read past page 5.
Alinsky's success with the Council propelled him into national recognition as the organizer"
So, Alinski's label of the "the great community organizer" is a lot of hot air. He just road on the backs of the Chicago Catholic churches work.
The US Catholic church's dealings with Alinski, reminds me of what my spiritual director always said:
"You can't lie, even to save the world"
In this case, you can't "play with" thugs, liars, and thieves (bad companions)in your internal affairs, even to save the world.
pinging for tomorrow
The council marked a shift in the Church's self-understanding. Implicit in Pope John's aggiornamento was a constructive encounter with modernity. Under Pius IX and Leo XIII the Church had taken a defensive position against post-Enlightenment thought. The dominant grounding for that position was a neo-Scholastic synthesis between faith and reason, a synthesis that provided a unified Catholic worldview that collapsed at Vatican II.(32) While there is some consensus about a postconciliar shift away from the primacy of natural law in theology to a more inductive, biblically based, interdisciplinary, democratic, and empirical theological methodology,(33) there has been substantial debate whether this shift has had a positive or negative impact and whether natural law itself remains a viable approach"
....The role of the clergy within this emerging theology was less than clear and a massive exodus from the priesthood began. In the U.S. an estimated 3,413 priests resigned from diocesan and religious priesthood between 1966 and 1993..
This is not accurate where it says "The Archbishop met with Alinsky in 1965", it should read "Pope Paul VI met with Alinsky in 1965". since Montini was the pope from 1963 to 1978."Moreover, Additionally I doubt that by then, 1965, the pope would limit the meeting to "exploring whether community-organizing could work", to just Italy.
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”
Thanks for pointing this out and posting it.
Here's the link to the PDF: http://www.ts.mu.edu/content/59/59.4/59.4.3.pdf
Strange way of putting it. The popes mounted a counter-attack against a Liberalism that aimed to absorb the Church by depriving it of social relevance. The legitimacy of liberalism was undermined by the events of 1914-1919 along with the older feudal order that had prevailed in Austria. Modernism within the Church. however, continued to assert itself and it became a strong force in the laicism of the post-Vatican council. Neo-scholasticism, however, was simply a reaction to the subjectivism that has had such a fascinating attraction for the Western mind since it turned on Christianity in the 18th Century. It cannot accept that God became incarnate in the world, and the rejection of Christ has also led to its rejection of the Jews. It seems blind, however, to the claims of the Muslims, who reject reason but retain the same will to power that made them such a force in the world until the 18th Century.
I think it's still very much an immigrant church.
Not strange for a liberal. A traditional Catholic today would say:
"Under Pius IX and Leo XIII the Church had taken a defensive position against post-French revolution secular humanist "enlightenment" thought..
Today, since by far, most of the immigrants coming into the country are Mexicans, there are going to be many immigrants, however, in 1930's, it was totally an immigrant church, and in more than the sense that you are thinking.
The Catholic Church was always a church of pilgrims, people not of this world, hence always immigrants. After, Vatican II, they were pulled down to become of the World. There are hardly any Catholics left today that LIVE the faith, they are all of the World, no different in the way they live than anyone else.
If you want an example, just look around you and see if you can find somewhere a married for life couple with a large family. Families of 10 children were common among Catholics, however, today you are lucky if they are married in the Church, or even have children. In Austria, a Catholic country, less than 5 % of Catholics go to mass.
P.S.- among the USA traditionalist Catholics who attend the Latin Mass, and specially among the SSPX people, you do find those large families, even among the young, 30 and under parents. although I'm told that is not the case in Europe. Someone from there can comment on that.
Yes, I know what you mean.
Unfortunately, Catholic immigrants, whether old-time or contemporary, belong body and soul to the Democrat party (and these days that means supporting abortion and "gay marriage"). Why people who are traditional in their own countries morph into radicals in the United States I don't know, though I suppose it's similar to the reason that most American conservatives want moslems to move radically to the (modernist) left in their theology.
re:Why people who are traditional in their own countries morph into radicals in the United States I don’t know
They were not real Catholics in their countries either. Their “Catholicism” was just part of the culture.
This is like a knife in the gut to anyone who believes in the Church.
I also note in passing that somehow the most liberal Cardinals (Bernardin, Law, Mahoney) always have the worst sex-abuse problems in their archdioceses.
Well, they don’t like secular humanist, but a harsher and I think more accurate term would be “anti-religious.” And their attitudes are an ideological creation created during the clash between Enlightenment radicals who posited science as the only path to knowledge, without, IMHO, knowing correctly how the scientific method had developed.
I don’t know that Law is a “liberal.”but he certainly seems to be a careerist.
The French Revolutionaries took over possesion of most Church holdings in France and at first tried to make the clergy into civil servants. At first this was part of the effort to pay for the huge national debt. Then they turned nasty when most of the clergy refused to go along, and after war came. as as opinion abroad turned against the Revolution, they began to use force against both the Church and the nobility. Then came the real Terror. with the war in the Vendee, which exceeded the worst excesses of the 16th Century Wars of Religion.
It was at the time that the Revolution became Anti-Christ. After the invasion of Italy, two popes were kidnaped and held hostage. It was assume that the papacy would go the way of the Holy Roman Empire. That it didn’t was paradoxically the victory of anti-Catholic Britain.
Not really, it's happened many times before (the Arian heresy, the clergy in England under Henry VIII, Luther). The clergy (including the pope) are not infallible in their decisions of this nature (using Alinski's sinful methods). Martin Luther was a Catholic priest, the only difference between Luther and these hirelings and wolves in sheep's clothing like Bernardine, is that Luther had to separate himself, Bernardine didn't have to:
ST. VINCENT OF LERINS (400-450 AD) CONFESSOR OF THE CHURCH
"What then should a Catholic do if some part of the Church were to separate itself from communion with the universal Faith? What other choice can he make but to prefer to the gangrenous and corrupted member the whole of the body that is sound. And if some new contagion were to try to poison no longer a small part of the Church, but all of the Church at the same time, then he will take the greatest care to attach himself to antiquity which, obviously, can no longer be seduced by any lying novelty." (Commonitorium) from: http://www.traditio.com/tradlib/popelim.txt