By Diane Lily
“The....tendency in modern charity, if we are correctly observing contemporary movement, is towards greater organization, even to the extent of making it one of the big business concerns of the country. The bread-basket stage, the penny-in-a-tin-cup stage, the hand-out stage, have given way to the bureau and the scientific giving stage. Statistics are replacing sympathy, and social workers are replacing emotions.”
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Old Errors and New Labels, 1950.
Who needs the fictional DaVinci Code thriller when we have the real thing in our midst?
The DaVinci Code author declares that his story line is factual. The book’s protagonist tells a story about a religious world full of intrigue. He depicts perfectly normal groups who are in fact engaged in solid Catholic action as sinister “change agents” within the church.
All the while this real life entity, Catholic Charities, has been worming its way into the hearts, minds and checkbooks of the faithful while absolutely working as “change agents” before the United Nations and the federal and state governments to install what would amount to a secular humanist welfare state system of governance. And, all of it is based on a twisted interpretation of the Good Samaritan as the first community-minded social activist.
Catholic Charities, having the support and confidence of the Church higher authorities, has an ability to reach the faithful in the pews that is not granted to secular or government entities.
In tandem with other quasi faith-based groups, they are infiltrating the churches, training our youth to be community activists, especially using the newly-arrived Latino community to advocate before local and state governments for more and expanded tax funded programs. Catholic Charities has changed the meaning of Mark 12:13-17, regarding rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s. God is being replaced by the State Department of Social Services.
It’s not necessary to delve into musty old records to discover the inner workings of Catholic Charities. They are readily available to the online researcher. The one problem, though, is that the agenda they espouse is, as in the Dan Brown story, in code. To understand the code it is not only necessary to read what they say, but observe what they do and with whom they do it to get a true picture of the mission and goals of Catholic Charities USA.
I recently came across a City Journal article by Brian C. Anderson entitled How Catholic Charities Lost It’s Soul.”1 The premise of this six-page article is that we all understand that “religious values can uplift the poor. Too bad Catholic Charities USA has lost confidence in the power of these values and has embraced the welfare-state faith.” Reading this article may help you begin to translate Catholic Charities code.
To understand the mission and positioning of Catholic Charities today, it is necessary to examine its forerunner, Caritas Internationalis, and its mission statement.
Catholic Charities began in 1910 in New York as the USA branch of Caritas Internationalis. Caritas was formed in 1897, originally as a loose association of priests and social activists in Freiburg, Germany, performing local works of charity for the community and the faithful. They branched out to Switzerland in 1901.
According to the Caritas web site, beginning in 1948, under the support and guidance of Msgr. Montini, who became Pope Paul VI, the Vatican assigned Caritas Internationalis as its official representative to the United Nations. At the same time, Catholic Charities moved into every diocese across the United States to eventually become the diocesan public policy advocacy arm of the church before government bodies. While Catholic Charities may take its orders from its Alexandria, Virginia headquarters, it closely adheres to the mission and goals as set down by its original founder - Caritas. Caritas Internationalis is headquartered in Palazzo San Calisto, Vatican City.
Here is a quote from Caritas own web site:
Global Advocate in the New Century: A turning point in Caritas's history came in the early 1960s, with the release in 1965 of Vatican II. In addition to sweeping reforms within the Catholic Church itself, Vatican II also called for Catholic aid efforts—led by Caritas Internationalis—to adopt a new and broader global focus. As a result, Caritas's relief operations no longer targeted especially the world's Catholic and Christian populations, but instead sought to extend its efforts toward the world's poor and needy, regardless of religion or other affiliation.2
Though Archbishop Sheen didn’t name names, he was acting as a prophet when he made the observation he did in 1950. He was, apparently, trying to warn the faithful that charitable works of mercy had joined with big politics and big business. Today. Catholic Charities has taken a lead position in forming partnerships or joining in coalitions with other non-profit activist and advocacy groups, many of whose philosophies and missions were and still are totally opposed to religious values.
The one uniting factor among all these groups is the goal of expanding their own organizational agendas, assuming major oversight of individual personal lives, and merging the church’s mission of charity with government regulation.
During those formative years from 1910 and up until about 1960, according to the Anderson article, when the philosophy of Catholic Charities began to change, it sought to “change bad habits and dysfunctional values remaking those habits and values through religious faith and moral instruction.” Here we have shades of the Bowery Boys movies: “He ain't’ heavy, Father, he’s my brother.”
However, the Anderson report continues, in the tumultuous years of the 1960s, “Catholic Charities rejected its long-standing emphasis on personal responsibility and self-reliance and began to blame capitalist society rather than individual behavior for poverty and crime. It now looked to the welfare state to solve all social problems.” This is basically the theme of Liberation Theology.
I am reminded of the Epistle reading for Pentecost Sunday, Genesis 11:7, about the Tower of Babel. In that story God, was so disappointed about the way people were living and thinking that after seeing the city and tower that the men had built he declared: “Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says.”
Today, however, it is not God who is confusing the language. It is the human wordsmiths, the public relations experts, the legislators, and the bureaucrats - both religious and secular – who are causing the confusion. One must read between the lines to understand and translate the code.
The Mission Statement of Catholic Charities USA is a good example of the code:
Our Mission: Mission is the purpose for which an organization exists; it is the reason why and how services are given. The origin of mission for Catholic Charities agencies is found in the Judeo-Christian tradition of Sacred Scripture, Catholic social teaching, and the tradition of the Catholic Church itself.
To participate in the mission of a Catholic Charities agency is to act with compassionate love and engage in the ongoing work of bringing to completion the kingdom of God in our midst.
The mission of Catholic Charities is to provide services to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.
It flows nicely, but does it tell you anything? No and it’s not meant to. Words upon which to focus are: “origin of mission.” Why not current mission? Or, how about “Catholic Social Teaching?” That teaching has changed dramatically over the last several decades, as I have just described. Does it mean the encyclicals as originally written or as some progressive social activists’ have interpreted them?
Does advocating for social justice mean urging the faithful to lobby for the largest expansion of the welfare state in 65 years by extending medical and social services to illegal aliens, as reported in Human Events for June 5, 2006? Take a look at your own diocese’s Social Justice Commission as I have of mine, and see the legislation they are supporting for government services for illegal aliens.3 Then think back on their mission statement. There is no mention of spiritual salvation in that mission statement, only material salvation by the government.
In my diocese, Catholic Charities of the East Bay (CCEB), which covers Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, has signed on to a government grant program that they have titled the Care Collaborative (meaning they work with other agencies). It assists youth in foster care to maintain their state paid MediCal past the age of 18. The local Contra Costa county Grand Jury has just completed an investigation of the foster care situation and found it appalling. Those foster children who reach age 18 and must leave foster care often end up homeless. Their schooling has been interrupted so often that they have few worthwhile job skills, but they do have the protection of MediCal (California’s version of MediCaid) up to age 21 and they do have the services of a county provided Independent Living Skills program to train them for entry into the adult world. This is an inch-long Band-Aid on a foot-long wound.
What is Catholic Charities actually doing? It is coating its “mission” with a faint veneer of Catholicism while joining forces with faith based, nationwide organizations such as the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing (PICO). PICO was started by a Jesuit who was trained by the socialist-leaning Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), under the direction of Saul Alinsky. The IAF got its start organizing the workers in the Chicago Stockyards of the 1930s. The main effort of the IAF has been to turn churchgoers and citizens into advocates for government delivered “social justice,” which means tax-funded government assistance that creates a continual dependency upon welfare and community service organizations. For a complete understanding of PICO and it’s parent organization the IAF, please read “Building Democracy: faith-based community organizing today,” by Mark R. Warren.4
Why, one should ask, does a religious body need a public policy arm? What is the advantage to one’s eternal salvation for the church to have formed a liaison with the government? Or, is it a mutually advantageous union? Catholic Charities gets more funding and expanded list of clients as it takes over delivery of government services. In exchange, the government gets more people into their programs from areas that have heretofore been inaccessible. The faithful get to continue thinking that they are supporting Catholic works of mercy.
To further one’s understanding of diocesan social concerns, one should next visit the Oakland Diocese Social Justice Committee web site.5 There one will find the usual array of liberal-left, tax-and-spend state and federal programs such as universal healthcare coverage, including coverage for illegal immigrants (exposing them to government provided family planning and abortion services as required by MediCaid and Title X), affordable housing (tax funded housing for government-approved people, supported by higher housing costs for everyone else), minimum wage laws (the cornerstone of progressive unions, especially the Service Employees International that loves to picket Catholic hospitals), and a whole host of legislative proposals dear to the hearts of the progressive (liberal) Democrat Party agenda. This supports the Catholic Charities Mission Statement that talks about providing services with “compassionate love,” which they have confused with government giveaway programs. This works right in with Caritas’ efforts, as stated in their Mission and Principles statements, to “break down” the barriers to access to public services. What it meant by “barriers” is moral resistance to bringing more of the faithful into the hands of big daddy government. In this strategy, they are similar to Planned Parenthood (with whom California Catholic Charities has often joined in supporting family planning legislation). When Planned Parenthood insertsi the phrase “breaking down barriers” in legislation it supports, it usually means blocking parents from protesting another usurpation of parental rights.
We now return to Caritas and its Mission Statement. It is divided into two segments. The first are its Guiding Values, which stress the dignity of the human person and in which they say that they are agents for change. There one learns that an “option for the poor,” or promoting the “rights” of the poor means more government assistance. One also learns that there is to be a “universal destination of earth’s goods,” meaning a redistribution of the earth’s goods from those who have to those who supposedly have not. Barriers to such redistribution are considered “sinful.” “Solidarity” is defined as associating with other non-governmental organizations, unlike traditional Catholic understanding of being in union with God for the sake of one’s salvation. The last Guiding Value of Caritas is “stewardship,” defined here as being in union with the whole of creation, which one can take to mean anything at all.
These “values” are all expressed in such a way as to be “barrier breakers.” The tactic here is to present any opposition as sinful, selfish, and greedy, humiliating an oppositional person into compliance – or at least into ineffective marginalization.
The second segment of their Mission Statement lists 10 Principles, all of which are worth reading, (one of which I just mentioned in a preceding paragraph). I will focus on two that I believe are core code words: “subsidiarity” and “partnership.”
Here is Caritas’ definition of subsidiarity: “The principle of subsidiarity is one of the foundations of the Caritas Confederation. We will respect the principle of local autonomy for all activities at the local level while, at the same time, helping the whole Confederation to work together effectively and harmoniously in the pursuit of our common mission.”
And, their definition of partnership: “Caritas seeks to work on the basis of partnership, which should underline all relations between member organizations. Partnership implies a long-term commitment to agreed objectives, based on shared values, strategies and information.”
Since the Church is a non-profit, 501(C)3 (IRS definition) organization it can educate the faithful regarding the tenets of the church on issues affecting the people, but it is legally limited in the use of its authority of advocating or campaigning for governmental public policies or politicians. [It’s prohibited from using more than 5-20% (depending on how you define terms) of its resources for political campaigning. It can advocate and influence public policy all it wants] If it is going to take a leading role in becoming a change agent, as I am suggesting that they are, it needs secondary organizations to carry on the majority of that work. In other words, it needs the right hand to claim ignorance of what the left hand is doing. The church has to rely on advocacy organizations such as Catholic Charities. And, Catholic Charities, to be effective, assumes that it must merge its voice with secular groups working to bring about a new world order. It works to bring about that new order by training naive individuals within the church to which they have been given access, to act as their lobbyists and activists before state and federal governments. In other words, they are upset that God isn’t bringing us heaven on earth – so the government can and should do that.
I have mentioned PICO. There is also La Unida de la Raza (the One Race). La Raza was created within the boundary of the Oakland Diocese also during the 1960s era with the blessings of Catholic Charities Board members, to be the outreach to the Latino community to provide government funded health care, social counseling, community training and advocacy.
Catholic Charities, La Raza and PICO receive funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. They all also receive millions of tax dollars for their “service” programs. LaRaza has just received a $750,000 grant from the California Health Facilities Financing Agency - CHFFA. PICO has been featured in several of the last editions of the Oakland Diocean newspaper, The Catholic Voice, for its services to the community in turning our youth into community activists. Several of these groups and several members of parishes up and down the state have been bussed to Sacramento to lobby for immigration, health care, and affordable housing.
La Raza, which operates community health clinic services and takes MediCal patients, lists family planning as one of its main services. Their website states that they follow the Liberation Theology philosophy of Paulo Freire, “echoing the humanist Marx.”
I conclude with one more quote from the Brian Anderson article, How Catholic Charities Lost Its Soul:
As both leading presidential candidates, Vice President Gore and Governor Bush, seek to extend “Charitable Choice,” the provision of the 1996 federal welfare-reform law that allows faith-based institutions to receive government funding to serve the needy without veiling their religious character, some conservative critics worry that government funds might make other faith-based institutions more like Catholic Charities—more secular and less concerned with saving souls. But this argument assumes that it was government funding that corrupted Catholic Charities. In fact, Catholic Charities officials already sincerely believed that government entitlements are the best way to help the needy when they began accepting government funding. There's no reason to think that effective faith-based institutions, once receiving government money under charitable choice, would lose their way. As Richard John Neuhaus has argued, it’s up to those who run faith-based programs to ensure that they preserve their religious integrity under charitable choice. “There are millions of people, especially the poor,” Neuhaus says, “who would greatly benefit by programs aimed not simply at ‘delivering services’ but at transforming lives.”
“Marxism held that ‘religion is the opium of the people.’ Today, this may mean politics is the heroin of religion.”6
HYPERLINK "http://www.city-journal.org/html/10_1_how_catholic_charities.html" * www.city-journal.org/html/10_1_how_catholic_charities.html
Catholic Charities of the East Bay: HYPERLINK "http://www.cceb.org/public_policy.php" * www.cceb.org/public_policy.php
HYPERLINK "http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/115/Warren.html" * www.nhi.org/online/issues/115/Warren.html
HYPERLINK "http://www.oakdiocese.org/pastoral/SocialJustice" * www.oakdiocese.org/pastoral/SocialJustice
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Those Mysterious Priests, 1974.