Saturday, October 8, 2011

CCHD and how the Catholic Church was infiltrated by Alinsky followers

When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
 – John 8:44
This video by Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV titled "The CCHD and Saul Alinsky" explains a lot. It explains how the Church was infiltrated by Alinsky followers. It explains why Chicago is a source of so much heterodoxy. There's even a tie in with Father Frank Pavone's situation. You see Bishop Zurek's mentor, Bishop John McCarthy of Austin, was one of the founders of CCHD. (See the article below that mentions Fr. John McCarthy as an assistant to Msgr. George Higgins -- a rather famous labor activist at the time. Sure, it's OK for Catholic priests to be pro-labor activists, but not pro-Life activists.)

Alinsky's "community organizers" are nothing but a front for his socialist agenda. And CCHD was founded specifically to funnel Catholic Church funds into the network of "community organizations" founded by Alinsky. Note also that the "community organizer" Barack Obama got his start in Chicago working with some of Alinsky's disciples, and reportedly received funds from CCHD.

Please watch the video first and then read the following excerpts from the article below simply titled "Catholic Campaign for Human Development" by William Droel. He is a board member of the National Center for the Laity -- a heterodox Catholic organization from Chicago. I'm not sure when this was written. Please note that this is written from a liberal perspective, but what I am interested in pointing our here is the history of how CCHD was founded and the fact that it still supports the Alinsky community organizing network.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is a Washington, D.C.-based, anti-poverty foundation, founded by the Catholic bishops of the United States in 1969. Replenished annually by a November collection in Catholic parishes, the $15 million foundation gives grants to a wide-range community organizing groups, including those associated with Industrial Areas Foundation, ACORN and other community organizing networks, as well as independent organizing efforts. In addition, CCHD funds worker and community owned development projects.

Generally, these efforts are not affiliated with the Catholic Church. CCHD is one of the largest, if not the single largest, funders of Alinsky-tradition community organizing in the United States. Its origins are in the Catholic Committee for Urban Ministry (CCUM), a 1960s group that brought together clergy, women religious and lay leaders working in our nation's cities for racial and economic justice.


CCHD came under criticism from some organizing groups and "progressives" who cried "foul" because in 1998 CCHD re-emphasized its institutional connection with the Catholic Church and reiterated its policy that funded projects "must conform to the moral teachings of the Catholic church." For example, Francis Calpotura then-director of the Center for Third World Organizing, said CCHD was making "a rightward turn" and driving "a wedge against progressive organizers [who] are pro-choice."


Interestingly, some people from the liberal/left side, like Calpotura, fault CCHD for giving too much money to IAF organizations and to those affiliated with Pacific Institute for Community Organizing, precisely because those two networks are "safe" on the abortion issue; that is, they don't support abortion. The "progressives" are disappointed that, by one estimate, over 40% of CCHD allocations now go to church-based community organizations that use a method similar to that of the IAF's.


It is no coincidence that CCHD has a positive relationship with IAF community organizations and others of a similar ilk. The IAF was founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky with the help of Chicago bishop Bernard Sheil who, with many other Chicago Catholics, joined Alinsky in organizing the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council in the late 1930s. It is even possible that Alinsky took the name of his organization from Pope Pius XI and Catholic philosopher Heinrich Pesch who, in fleshing out the implications of Catholic social thought, were in the 1930s promoting "industrial area councils." Alinsky's diverse IAF board included prominent Catholics, among them George Shuster, former president of Hunter College and former editor of Commonweal magazine, and the late Msgr. John Egan of Chicago. Alinsky, who died in 1972, was an influential advisor to Catholic Charities and, on many matters, to the Archdiocese of Chicago. The IAF staff and its pool of organizers always included several ex-seminarians, notably its longtime director Edward Chambers. Today there are several women religious among the IAF organizers. The IAF has certainly found a permanent ally in the Catholic Church in this country.

In a recent article for Theological Studies, Lawrence Engel details the specific, though indirect, influence Alinsky had on the founding of CCHD. The United States Catholic bishops, Engel writes, had through the 20th century issued periodic statements on race relations, poverty and the urban crisis; notably one in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King. At that time the bishops formed an Urban Task Force to which they appointed priests and lay leaders, most of whom were familiar with one or another Alinsky community organization. The Task Force included Msgr. Egan, Msgr. Gino Baroni of Washington, Fr. John McCarthy of Galveston then an assistant to Msgr. George Higgins at the Catholic Conference, Fr. Patrick Flood of Milwaukee and Fr. P. David Finks, who previously was very involved with Chambers and the IAF's FIGHT organization in Rochester, and who later authored a fine biography of Alinsky. In June 1969 the Task Force proposed that the bishops "establish an annual collection for human development." In language that carried over to the founding resolution of CCHD, the Task Force directed the annual collection to be allocated toward "organizing develop economic and political power in their own communities."

CCHD is an ingenious program. It stands in contrast to the substantial "reparations for injustice" being paid in the late 1960s by some Protestant denominations in response to various "black manifestoes" and assorted demands from charismatic leaders.

These same denominations, it should be added, were often financial supporters of IAF and similar community organizing groups and, particularly important to the development of broadly-based community organizations, were willing to provide seed grants which national CCHD does not do.

CCHD targets emerging groups of "white and minority poor" that have potential to address their own problems and train lay leaders. In the context of the late 1960s, Alinsky's approach was much more in harmony with the Catholic sensibility than other responses, reflects Fr. Finks. "I didn't see anything else on the horizon."

Pray for the Church.

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UPDATE 1 [Oct 8]:

If you would like to read more on this topic, there is a an excellent and very comprehensive article published in 1998 titled "The Influence Of Saul Alinsky On The Campaign For Human Development" by Lawrence J. Engel. It's 17 pages long and I have only read parts of it at this time, but it appears to give a very accurate and detailed history of CCHD up until 1998.

The entire article is available online here: (PDF version)

For the latest on the CCHD controversy, please visit the website of the Reform CCHD Now Coalition:

Reform CCHD Now has released its latest report which is available as a PDF:

Please remember that the CCHD collection is usually taken up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We still have time to make our voices heard before then. In the past few years some bishops have refused to collect money for the CCHD because of their funding of groups that support abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and/or Marxism. Given that 21% of the groups currently funded by CCHD continue to promote such causes, one would expect that some bishops would continue to decline to support CCHD.

I think there is an even more fundamental problem with CCHD which is that it promotes the "community organizing" model that Alinsky developed. This approach has not been shown to have any significant impact on poverty and it is usually tied to political organizing for liberal causes. This tends to provide political support for the Democratic Party and other more left wing groups. So naturally, these groups tend to also support the "culture of death".

The Catholic Church should be funding Catholic groups instead of secular groups who claim to be promoting "social justice". It is only through the changing of souls that true justice can emerge. Material progress which is not accompanied by spiritual progress is empty and can even be harmful to the individual and society.

At this time in history the Church should be focused on creating a culture of Life. I can't imagine that the Holy Spirit could speak to our hearts any more clearly. This does not require one to be a prophet. We only have to listen through our prayers. We only have to open our eyes and see the signs all around us.

This is the new evangelization that Blessed Pope John Paul II called us to and that Pope Benedict XVI has continually asked us to engage in.

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Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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UPDATE 2 [Oct 11]:

Here are a couple of quotes that speak for themselves.
“Well, the first thing I did, the first thing I always do, is to move into the community as an observer, to talk with people and listen and learn their grievances and their attitudes. Then I look around at what I’ve got to work with, what levers I can use to pry closed doors open, what institutions or organizations already exist that can be useful. In the case of Back of the Yards, the area was 95 percent Roman Catholic, and I recognized that if I could win the support of the Church, we’d be off and running. Conversely, without the Church, or at least some elements of it, it was unlikely that we’d be able to make much of a dent in the community.

I got my start as a community organizer working with mostly Catholic parishes on the Southside of Chicago that were struggling because the steel plants had closed. The Campaign for Human Development helped fund the project and so, very early on, my career was intertwined with the belief in social justice that is so strong in the Church.”
Here is some more historical background information.
While organizing in Chicago, Alinsky gained many Catholic allies. He began working in 1938 with local leaders to combat juvenile delinquency. Alinsky teamed up with Catholic activist Joseph Meegan, who ran a local recreation facility, to create the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council.

“Among friends, he could be openly contemptuous about not only Catholic rituals but religious rituals in general,” wrote Alinsky biographer Sanford Horwitt. But despite his atheism, Alinsky found common cause with religious leaders on political matters.

Alinsky concentrated his efforts on unions, while Meegan focused on churches and community groups. Meegan helped Alinsky ingratiate himself with the Chicago Archdiocese. His brother, Monsignor Peter Meegan, served as Bishop Bernard Sheil’s secretary.

Over time Alinsky’s organizing efforts in the Back of the Yards in the Southwest Side of Chicago, gained the support of Sheil, a liberal who founded the national Catholic Youth Organization. Alinsky also worked with Jack Egan, a student at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary, who later became a crusading left-wing priest.

Monsignor Egan became an important Alinsky ally and a member of the board of Alinsky’s IAF. Later he played a significant role in the creation of CCHD and the Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry (CCUM).


  1. UPDATE 1: I added a long update with links to more resource material and my reflections on building a culture of life.

  2. UPDATE 2: I added some additional historical information on the links between Alinsky and CCHD. There is also a quote from Obama giving credit to CCHD for funding his "community organizing" work in Chicago.