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Why the ‘JustFaith’ social justice program is problematical February 16, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, sickness.
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Or, really, heterodox and difficult if not impossible to reconcile with Catholic social doctrine.  I will remind readers that last June, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Plano, named after a true adherent to Catholic social doctrine, hosted a “social justice” conference which was organized and led by an organization called JustFaith, which is tightly bound up with CCHD, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and various liberation theology sects in protestantism.  I stated at the time that “JustFaith, along with Call to Action and Pax Christi, draws strongly from marxist liberation theology which was condemned by Pope John Paul II.”  Now, the excellent blog Unam Sanctam has a post that reviews JustFaith materials in depth.   Suffice it to say, the JustFaith materials, including four books those entering JustFaith are asked/required to read, are heterdox, reject Church moral and social doctrine, and are steeped in Marxist liberation theology:

“I had already heard a little about the JustFaith program and some concerns regarding it just prior to the time that two members of our parish came to me to share their concerns. One of them had enrolled in the course and brought to me the full set of materials she purchased for the course requesting that I review it [The JustFaith program is VERY expensive and requires a form of "immersion" in their doctrine which is highly scripted and organized over a period of a 7 months.  Such indoctrination is required to shuck off the thinking of the oppressive capitalist overlords and their running dog lackeys and join the vanguard of the Marxist-Leninist revolution! - ED]. I submit herein the results of my review in a spirit of fraternal correction and concern and to assist pastors and lay persons who lack time to read all the materials; a close examination of the program by the competent ecclesiastical authority is warranted to determine the advisability of its continued use.
 
The very opening sessions of the JustFaith program are problematic. For example, in week 2, the opening prayer invokes 21 “witnesses of hope,” including Mohandes Gandhi–“great soul of peace,” Flannery O’Connor (note: from my acquaintance with the life and writings of this great American writer, I submit that she would strenuously object to JustFaith and being prayed to for she was a devout Catholic), Thomas Merton (much of his later work was heterodox), Martin Luther King, Jr., Joseph Bernardin, Albert Schweitzer, concluding with, “All you holy men and women, salt and light for our world, Pray for us.”Attachment B of the same week lists discussion and dialogue goals, including the search for the best “view,” incorporate varied perspectives, etc. There is no reference to seeking, teaching, or understanding the truth as taught by the Church. As Pope Benedict has reiterated, “real education is not possible without the light of truth.”
 
There are 4 books in the program: Cloud of Witnesses by [well known leftist Jim] Wallis and Hollyday, Compassion by Nouwen, et al, The Challenge and Spirituality of Catholic Teaching, by Mich, and Amazing Grace by Kozol. None of them has a Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur despite the pretensions of this course to present the “rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.” An examination of the content of the texts reveals significant reasons there is not and should not be an official stamp of the Church’s stamp of approval on any of these books or the program. [The books also  make scant reference to encyclicals, Papal statements, etc., on Catholic social teaching, because those documents woudl not support the agenda of JustFaith - ED]
 
The Cloud of Witnesses book is most revealing of the agenda of this program and of content contrary to the authentic social teaching of the Catholic Church. It is clearly stated that, “The articles and interviews in this book have been adapted from material originally published in Sojourners magazine.” The author, Jim Wallis, was founder and executive director of Sojourners. He has written in favor of gay “marriage.” The author, Joyce Hollyday, is a minister in the United Church of Christ. Sojourners is described as non-denominational according to its website, but includes left wing Catholic peace activists and dissenters, a Masonic veterans group, favors gay/lesbian partnerships, has a policy statement in favor of recognition and legal protection for the same, including gay “marriage,” and favors ordination of women, claiming five female ordinations and female bishops. [!! Isn't that grounds for discipline/exclusion right off the top?!?  This is why I cannot support Catholic Charities or CRS at ALL anymore! - ED]  This background should constitute sufficient cause to question inclusion of the book as a source of authentic Catholic Social teaching.
In addition, out of 35 articles, only 11 appear to be about known Catholics. I say “known” because the faith of some was not identifiable. For certain, most were not Catholic at all and included a Living Waters pastor, Georgia minister, Episcopal minister, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, a Presbyterian pastor, a Quaker, three Baptists, one now non-denominational former Methodist then Presbyterian, a Dutch Reformed preacher and a number of others not Catholic but whose denomination was not mentioned. Among the persons featured were a draft-dodger, proponent of the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church, one pastor and his wife imprisoned for non-payment of taxes, one whose “consciousness” came from liberation theology and another who said the truth was not the captive of any enterprise or religion.
Among the Catholics featured in the book were many known dissenters such as Father Daniel Berrigan, Sr. Joan Chittister, Father Pedro Arrupe and others who criticize the Church rather than advance her authentic teachings. Some examples will suffice:
  • Joan Chitttister’s unabashed advancement of the ordination of women is championed. She said, “There’s either something wrong with the present theology of ministry, or there is something wrong with the present theology of all the sacraments. If women qualify for baptism, confirmation, salvation, and redemption, how can they be denied the sacrament of ministry?” [In short, God is wrong] Her arguments that women are ignored in church language and for the feminization of God are given ample play in the text.
  • Jesuit superior general Pedro Arrupe openly rejected Humanae Vitae and his “restructuring” of the Jesuits did much harm to the Order; the circumstances of his removal are unclear to me, but Pope John Paul II passed over Arrupe’s designated successor for another. [I don't think I need to comment too much on the present state of the Jesuits]
  • Father Miguel D’Escoto is not permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in public or private.
  • Father Elias Chacour, a Catholic priest and pacifist in Israel, attacked the wealth of the Church and described his despair of the institutional Church and its hierarchy.
  • Archbishop Dom Camara, who certainly sacrificed for the poor of his native Brazil, was a devotee of Gandhi and criticized the Church for its programs and priorities; at the closing session of Vatican II, he proposed that all the bishops surrender their crosses of precious metals for meltdown and distribution of the proceeds to the poor.
  • Father George Zabelka is an extreme pacifist who accuses Christianity of seventeen hundred years of terror and slaughter. [whereas Islam is the religion of peace]
  • Journalist Penny Lernoux had distanced herself from the Church but returned in the “awakening” of Vatican II, which she described as “set to turn the Church on its head,” while she was herself under the inspiration of liberation theology.
The magisterial authority of the Church was not recognized in this book. There was a nice article on St. Francis of Assisi, who was called the “greatest saint.” This book would be perfectly suited to a study of liberation theology, which, of course, has been soundly refuted by the Church beginning with Divini Redemptoris. Pope Pius XI stated that the Church could not cooperate with Marxists. Liberation theology would divert the Church from her mission of salvation to one of social welfare agency. [I've noted this about socialist catholics before - their goal is the Church as social welfare agency and vehicle of the revolution]
One of the authors of Compassion was Henri Nouwen, who was described in Cloud of Witnesses as a Dutch priest and contributing editor to Sojourners. His funeral Mass was described in the book as a “carnival atmosphere” where actors and actresses “breathed life into the gospel reading.” In the Preface, the tone of the book is set with a quote from theologian, Gail O’Day, “Just as it is false to the richness of the Christian tradition to use father language as generic language for God, it ….” This book does more to diminish than to advance the true faith, for example:
  • The authors assert that the Gospels support reference to the “womb” of God (pp. 14-16).
  • They say we should see compassion not in moralistic terms (emphasis added; the implication is that we should disregard sin, p. 28).
  • They wrote that choosing to suffer as “an obedient response to our loving God” is, for Christians, a “false belief that in so doing they were following the way of Jesus Christ.” [I guess we can throw out the Carmelites, the Carthusians, and all that "take up your cross and follow Me jazz.....]
  • The section on the breaking of bread omits all reference to sacrifice and the Holy Eucharist as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, the real presence; the sole emphasis is on community and eating bread and drinking wine as a memorial, where we become intimately connected “to the compassionate life of Christ.” (p. 111).  [Of course, because JustFaith is run by leftist "protestants"]
  • Our “bread connections” are a “call to action.” He writes that when people eat bread and drink wine in his (Christ’s) memory, “smiles appear on strained faces” (p. 132).
The Mich book has some good quotes, including some references to encyclicals and Saints, but they are interlaced with error. For example, St. Boniface’s challenge to the god Thor inspired conversions but led to the unintended consequence of “diminished awe for the sacredness of nature.” (p. 34). We are instructed that every creature, animate and inanimate, can be a “sacrament.” Life issues are discussed with no reference to the evil of contraception.
We are told that there was an early Catholic attitude, still present, that saw humans as the apex of creation and this too often led to exploitation of nature (p. 41). Quoting Sister Elizabeth Johnson, the author explains that “previous theologies would have human beings with their rational souls as superior to the natural world.” Such a ranking, he writes, easily “gives rise to arrogance, one root of the present ecological crisis.” We are told that we need ‘species humility’ (p. 43). I read this and wondered whatever happened to Genesis: man is made in the image and likeness of God and has dominion?
On pages 43-44, we read that we must “reimagine our place in creation” with these questions, each of which is directly or by implication in conflict with the truth:
  • How to preach salvation as healing and rescue for the whole world rather than as solely an individual relationship with God?
  • How to let go of contempt for matter, contempt for the body and sexuality, and how to revalue them as good and blessed?
  • How to interpret human beings as primarily “earthlings” rather than as pilgrims or tourists whose real home is elsewhere?
  • How to recognize the sacraments as symbols of divine graciousness in a universe that is itself a sacrament? [Gaia worship!]
  • What kinds of new spiritualities will emerge as we become creation-centered?
The author references Familiaris Consortio, then trashes it and exposes his real agenda:
“Today, Catholic theology and spirituality does not view the love of another human being as distracting from our love of God. In fact, love of a spouse and child is viewed as participation in divine love. Sexuality is viewed in more positive terms as a gift of God to be enjoyed and celebrated within committed love and not only tolerated for the sake of procreation. These positive themes provide the starting points for a reinterpretation of marriage and family within the Catholic tradition. This revisioning is only in beginning stages. Catholicism and other Christian denominations are still working on understanding the role of women in the church and society and the meaning of committed homosexual relationships.” (p. 81, emphasis added)
I think this establishes that the JustFaith materials and the program put in place at Seton are highly problematic.  I’m sure the best of intentions abounded when seeking to expand Seton’s social justice ministry, but unfortunately far too many Catholic organizations in this country are sorely infected with socialist/communist thought and reject much of the Doctrine of the Faith.  One must be extremely selective in preparing any social justice organization.  I add that Seton has long ties to other problematic organizations, such as Dallas and Collin County Area Interfaith.  JustFaith simply has no place in a Catholic Church.
I think at this time, it is advisable to provide some contact information at Seton and the Diocese.  If you feel this JustFaith program is unacceptable, please be charitable in saying so!  Don’t cuss, and don’t call the pastor satan!  That doesn’t help!  Simply state that these programs are incompatible with the Faith, that you are sure the best of intentions drove the use of these materials, but ask for a prayerful reconsideration based on the evidence available that JustFaith is incompatible with an authentic Catholic faith.  I have never found a direct contact for Bishop Farrell.  Anyone who has one, please share!

Monsignor Henry Petter – hpetter@eseton.org   Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton  By far the best person to contact.

Vicar General/Moderator of the Curia: Auxiliary Bishop Douglas J. Deshotel; Vicar General: Auxiliary Bishop Mark J. Seitz, 214-528-2240, Fax: 214-528-0287

Chancellor: Mary Edlund, J.C.L., 214-528-2240, Fax: 214-523-2436
  chancellor@cathdal.org

Vicar for Clergy: Rev. Gregory Kelly. Phone: 214-379-2826, Fax: 214-521-0258, e-mail: gkelly@cathdal.org.

Be polite!

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Comments

1. dallas - February 16, 2011

… and pray especially for the list of newly ordained priests who have been assigned to this parish …

tantamergo - February 16, 2011

Yes, I am well aware of how the diocese seeks to “train” the young priests by constantly assigning them to certain pastors – pastors with a decided outlook on the Church and the world.


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