A Catholic approach to community organizing, rather recognizes that authentic structural transformation comes about not through deception and seizing power but through individual conversion and human solidarity. It recognizes also that subsidiarity is a co-principle with solidarity. This means that long term solutions are found in helping those in need to recognize that part of any solution is working for the holiness of both the “powerful” as well as the “powerless.” It realizes that situations and societies are authentically transformed not through conflict but through selfless cooperation.
It recognizes that those being served must be an integral part of any solution meant to serve them, and this includes setting the goals and the strategies for achieving them. It is not that confronting unjust situations might sometimes be necessary but a Catholic approach may not succumb to the ideology that confrontation is a normal, even necessary approach.
Neither can a Catholic approach fall into the adjunct heresy that life is a struggle for power. Authentic power is not the forcing of one person’s or group of people’s will over another’s. Rather, authentic power occurs only when love triumphs. God is love who is the source of all authentic power. When one views the other as an enemy to be defeated, authentic power is suppressed. When one views the other, even an oppressor, as a fellow sinner who Christ died for one will be better prepared to discern the proper approach for a particular situation.
Those who have studied CCHD over the years believe it may not be possible to reform the group because of its marriage to the Alinsky model which is based on moral relativism. Catholicism and moral relativism are fundamentally at odds and, although the old adage says that opposites attract that is not the case with good ends and evil means.
The author comes to a conclusion with which I heartily agree:
Because CCHD was founded upon a counter-Catholic ideology, I would argue that CCHD must be disbanded. The Church must also eliminate its material support of any organization formed around Alinsky’s ideology. It is true that we must support efforts that help others “learn to fish” but the Church cannot support corrupt, ideological movements in order to achieve such noble ends.
It is time to abandon this failed experiment called CCHD and devote the available resources to building a new Catholic apostolate dedicated to promoting authentic human flourishing. This new apostolate should base itself upon the social teachings of the Church, built upon an authentic understanding of the human person and how the truth of man demands a social interaction according to the co-principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. The social encyclicals of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are the most mature articulation of this. Anything short of this will risk contaminating authentic efforts at social justice with tactics arising from a relativist, amoral ideology. If we continue with the status quo, we cannot expect anything but more of the same.
Thanks to James for sending the article and to Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex for posting it.