Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT), as explained in the article “The Politics of 'Christian Churches Together'”, is a multi-denominational “fellowship” with the socialist ambition of “overcoming poverty” – and “evangelizing” to transform congregations and denominations to support this work.
[Aside 1: The article only mentioned CCT’s interest in transforming congregations but CCT’s executive administrator, Richard Hamm, is a “ministry colleague” with The Columbia Partnership, a “process-based Christian ministry” that is assisting CCT in its “strategic journey.” Transforming denominations is part of that strategic journey.]
Among other programs and processes towards its goals, CCT supports the work of community organizing which, given the denominations involved, means Alinskyian faith-based community organizing, particularly those in the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), PICO, Gamaliel, and DART networks.
In order to better understand what is afoot, it’s useful to examine how the work of CCT is being processed through one of its participating bodies, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Representing the USCCB is Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta and a former USCCB president (2001-2004). Archbishop Gregory serves as the president of CCT’s “Catholic family,” which is to say, he’s the primary liaison between the USCCB and CCT.
[Aside 2: Archbishop Gregory comes from Chicago, the birthplace of Alinskyian organizing and, not by coincidence, the birthplace of the dissenting-Catholic movement, Call to Action.]
Okay, now consider for a moment the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), a beleaguered annual “anti-poverty” collection that was formed in 1970 to fund Alinskyian organizing. In 2008, it was rocked by revelations that a longtime Alinskyian organizing grantee, ACORN, was guilty of a major embezzlement cover-up and blatant, partisan political activity – some of it illegal. Two years later, the premier pro-life organizations in the US exposed the troubling fact that dozens of CCHD grantees were aggressively engaged in pro-death activities and alliances.
To make matters worse, they discovered that John Carr, head of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (under which CCHD falls) held leadership positions with the CCHD-funded progressive, pro-abortion political group, the Center for Community Change. In addition, all those Alinskyian community organizations around the country, funded by CCHD grants and operating in Catholic parishes, pushed progressive political positions that just happened to place them in the same camp as the pro-aborts. Info: http://www.eisenhowerfoundation.org/docs/carr.pdf
Several bishops pulled out of the Campaign and others attempted to quietly redirect the funds into healthier directions.
This prompted some hasty – and highly public – soul searching on CCHD’s part, resulting in the 2010 document “Review and Renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development as Accepted and Affirmed by the USCCB Administrative Committee.” The Review assured all readers – presumably most of them being Catholic bishops – that everything was under control, guidelines for grants would be tightened, and future disbursements would be very, very carefully vetted.
A close reading of the Review, however, demonstrated that nothing of substance about the CCHD was changed. Oh, its media outreach would be improved and there’d be a few more folks involved in oversight, but CCHD’s essential mission of funding Alinskyian community organizing – and therefore its basic progressive attachments – remained undisturbed. [See Spero “USCCB ‘Review and Renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’ betrays utter lack of reform” See: http://www.speroforum.com/site/print.asp?idarticle=42657]
Nevertheless, this isn’t the climate to put all one’s eggs in a single basket. A memo from Carr to his social ministry colleagues titled “Where Are We Now? ‘Not Dead Yet!’” explained how USCCB re-organization would “not mean retreat.” CCHD’s mission would remain central to his work. “While CCHD will no longer have some of its old structures, it will be at the heart of this new structure—carrying forward its mission through support for grass-roots community organizing built on the participation and decision-making of low-income people themselves. CCHD’s defining and original mission to educate on poverty, its causes and remedies will continue in broader and stronger educational capacity and commitment within the new structures.”
CCHD, however, is longer working alone. The issue of poverty is one around which there can be a “priority for convergence and common action” with other groups. “Christian Churches Together, a major new ecumenical initiative, has chosen U.S. poverty as their first major priority for common action,” Carr writes.
[Aside 3: If it becomes too hot to bring progressive “anti-poverty” programming in through the front door of the USCCB, here’s the side entrance of “ecumenism” to ensure an entrance.]
Stephanie Block is the editor of the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper and a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition.
Here follows John Carr's curriculum vitae as noted at the USCCB website:
John Carr serves as Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference. In this role, he assists the U.S. bishops in sharing Catholic social teaching, advocating on major issues of justice and peace and building the Catholic community’s capacity to act on its social mission. The Department he leads includes the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is the Bishops’ anti-poverty program, and is guided by two Bishops’ Committees: Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace
John leads Catholic Bishops’ policy development and advocacy efforts on a wide range of national and global issues. He has assisted the U.S. Bishops in developing a number of major statements, including: Communities of Salt and Light, Sharing Catholic Teaching, Everyday Christianity and Faithful Citizenship. He has represented the U.S. Bishops’ Conference at the Vatican and in the Middle East, Central America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Russia.
For three decades, John has been a leader in Catholic social ministry, serving at the Bishops’ Conference and as Cardinal Hickey’s Secretary of Social Concerns in Washington, DC; as Education Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and as Legislative Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
Outside the Church, John served as Executive Director of the White House Conference on Families and as Director of the National Committee for Full Employment. He currently serves on the board of Bread for the World, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, the Catholic Health Association and the Law School of the University of St. Thomas.
John is a graduate of St. John Vianney Seminary and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. John received the "Vision Award" from Catholic Charities USA and the Msgr. John Egan Award by the National Pastoral Life Center and was named a "Hunger Hero" by Bread for the World.
John and his wife, Linda, have four children.