“Assent to counter dissent” – These are the words I have chosen to remind myself to avoid harsh criticism and accusation when speaking of our new Pastor. As I have said, “He is a fine man.” I know well that he is very conscious of the injustice in our society and he has worked hard to bring justice to those in need. As Jacqueline L. Salmon highlighted his vision in the Washington Post on October 4, 2008″:
“‘As long as we’re isolated — congregation or church or faith community — we face our own issues without realizing that they’re much more universal,” said the Rev. Horace ‘Tuck’ Grinnell, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Falls Church and one of the founding clergy members [of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE)].”
My difficulty, however, is reconciling the purpose of the good works with the means and associations that were employed to bring about those good works. As the Washington Post reported noted in the very next paragraph:
“VOICE received advice and initial funding from the Industrial Areas Foundation [IAF], a Chicago organization that builds activist coalitions from voluntary organizations such as religious congregations, labor unions and immigrant groups. IAF helped found the Washington Interfaith Network and Action in Montgomery.”
In my last post, I noted that it is worthwhile to understand the relationship of VOICE to the IAF. A Website dedicated to community organizing and community building activities, The Citizen’s Handbook, has an interesting document that provides a clear and concise summary of the IAF. Of special note is a section that speaks of the organization’s technique of tapping Christian churches “particularly the Catholic church” to support IAF goals and even to contribute money to IAF coffers:
“The IAF organizes through church networks. Much of IAF organizing occurs through Christian churches particularly the Catholic church. Because of this, it is often called faith-based organizing. The IAF taps existing parish networks to find the people it needs to achieve its goals. (This approach resembles the way successful social movements co-opt existing communications networks; see Social Movements: A Summary of What Works.) In Texas, the IAF obtained the support of the bishop, who then encouraged parishes to join the IAF. The congregations of these parishes contribute dues to the IAF and volunteer for IAF campaigns.”
The IAF is not Catholic. VOICE is not Catholic. The causes, no matter how noble, promoted by IAF and VOICE are not Catholic or at least not directly so. None of them seek to save souls.
Prior to coming here, our new Pastor has traveled a decidedly different path than many of the Sheep of Kephas at St. Peter’s. Whether he is here voluntarily or not, he now has the opportunity to move away from his former exaggerated emphasis on social justice and his expenditure of time on that which is not Catholic. He can now move his efforts towards emphasis on spiritual justice. He can seek out the lost sheep here in Rappahannock County, he can preach the Gospel to those who have lost there way and the unchurched. In short, he can feed the sheep as St. Peter was asked to do.
Rather than being a voice in dissent against a dissenter, I would rather be speaking in assent about a shepherd who has returned to what Pope Francis would call his “first duty” that is “to nourish the flock.”