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Two Points about Social Justice and Religious Progressives

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In this post I will go rather far abroad to bring a point back home. It will only be a minor point. Yet, it is a point worthy of at least some consideration. At the same time, I will also make a major point. The two points are related. One will deal with the macro-environment of the Roman Catholic Church. The other will pertain to the micro-environment of St. Peters.

Major Point:  If you have the time, refer to the Brookings Institute publication Faith in Equality – Economic Justice and the Future of Religious Progressives. It will give you a great deal of fodder upon which to ruminate. But be careful, some of the content is fodder which has already been ruminated and has continued on to its ultimate destination.

Wikipedia would call the Brookings Institution “an American Liberal leaning think tank” and the title of the publication signals that you will encounter a progressive view of economic justice. When you get to page 33 you will find the following:

Where is the funding and organizational capacity for advocacy on behalf of poor and disadvantaged people now? Often overlooked is the Catholic Church’s major financial support. Barack Obama was only one of many community organizers whose positions were financed by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). “It’s important to remember that the Catholic Church still is the leading source of resources for grassroots, faith-based work,” Whitman said. “CCHD has been, is now, and perhaps will be the only outfit that pumps millions of dollars a year into faith-based community organizing,” [John] Carr added. In 2013, CCHD gave support to 214 organizations in the U.S. with over $9 million in grants. [John Gehring, “Be Not Afraid? Guilt by Association, Catholic McCarthyism and Growing Threats to the U.S. Bishops’ Anti-Poverty Mission,” Faith in Public Life, June, 2013. (p 2)]

Think about what was just said in that short quote. When you open your “My Offering” box on November 23rd and you pull out the envelope marked “Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development” think about where your money will be going. If, after that moment of consideration you think you need to know more, then go to Reform CCHD Now.

So, that would be the major point – there are unresolved problems with CCHD. Even after being made aware publicly, CCHD has continued to grant money donated by faithful Catholics to causes that are not Catholic, and in some cases diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching.

Minor Point: Now what was the minor point?

Go back to the quote. Who is John Carr?  What has he done and what is he doing? See the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought & Public Life for at least a partial answer to those questions. – – – – Yes, he is the former head of CCHD, who retired in September 2012..

John Carr was in charge of CCHD when several researchers and analysts, including those at Reform CCHD Now, uncovered the flow of Catholic donations to grantees in violation of CCHD guidelines. In any situation like this, it is best to do your own homework and draw your own conclusions. A good reading of some of Carr’s quotes in the Brookings Institution piece should help you understand his views in his own words. For example on page 17:

“The whole country has been consumed by a war on who gets free contraception,” said Carr, referring to the HHS ruling that employer healthcare planscover birth control. “Meanwhile, five million poor people may lose health care because the Supreme Court, in a very modestly commented upon part of the ruling [on the Affordable Care Act], said states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion and you’re on your own. And no one is manning the barricades for that except a few of us.”

We know that there are a broad range of views on Catholic social justice. John Carr is at one end of that spectrum. Statements like the one above convince me that I should not join him there.

After leaving CCHD, he is now the director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to us out here in Rappahannock County – or does it?

When I go to the new St. Peter’s Website, I expect to find links to solid Catholic teaching. And many of the links our new Pastor has posted there concerning Pope Francis do indeed point directly to the Vatican Website. However, the links to the “Francis Factor Videos” go directly to videos by John Carr and others associated with the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought & Public Life.

It’s only a minor point. But, if many faithful Catholics had trouble trusting the CCHD under John Carr, why should we at St. Peter’s be pointed to the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought & Public Life Website, which is headed by John Carr?

Is there something that our new Pastor would like us to learn through this indoctrination?


1 Comment

  1. […] to make sure that my statements are accurate. So, allow me to correct a misstatement in my post Two Points about Social Justice and Religious Progressives. John Carr was not in charge of CCHD. According to a somewhat out-of-date biography on the USCCB […]


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