JustFaith Is a Big Part of the Problem
The education component of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development - including Jack Jezreel's JustFaith - is all about progressive politics.
By Stephanie BlockMichael J. Sheehan, Ordinary for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, devoted his column in the archdiocese’s April 2010 issue of its monthly newspaper, People of God, to a spirited defense of the justifiably beleaguered Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).
The article, “The Catholic Campaign for Human Development: A Commitment to Life and Dignity of the Human Person,” proudly points to CCHD’s educational efforts as part of that defense. Archbishop Sheehan writes: “CCHD also provides educational opportunities for Catholics to learn about poverty, to interact and build solidarity with those affected by it, and reflect on a faith response to poverty.”
Of all the unhappy points to make, CCHD’s history of un-Catholic “educational materials” is one of the most wretched aspects about the program…and not well known. A short discussion about this history can be found at Spero News [“Mopping Up CCHD,” www.speroforum.com/site/print.asp?idarticle=30866]; a more extensive presentation is available at the Catholic Media Coalition website [www.catholicmediacoalition.org/USCCB.htm], included in an extensive dossier on liberationist materials.
One educational program not mentioned in either of these two critiques is Jack Jezreel’s JustFaith, a 30-week “intensive opportunity to explore the Biblical tradition, the historic witness of the Church, Catholic social teaching, and the relationship between spirituality and justice.” (Press Release, usccb.org/cchd/JFPartnershipPR.htm)
In 2005, CCHD, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services announced “a new partnership” with the JustFaith program to expand “parish and church commitment to social ministry and the role that formation in the justice tradition plays.”
It would be more accurate to say that JustFaith is expanding commitment within parishes to progressive social solutions and political networking. Jezreel is a popular speaker in progressive venues, such as the dissident-Catholic organization, Call to Action (CTA) and one of its affiliate members, Pax Christi.
Lest anyone imagine his appearance with these organizations were ignorant, one-time only appearances, it must be pointed out that there are several instances of Jezreel speaking before these groups over a number of years. He has spoken at the:
That’s a problem, because Call to Action disseminates a liberationist – not a Catholic – perspective about social justice. For CTA to invite Jezreel to speak the first time could have been a mistake (“Golly, we thought the man had these cool, progressive political ideas but he’s just another orthodox toady, after all. Our bad.”), but to invite him back to speak requires some significant appreciation for what the man had to say. That doesn’t speak well of Jezreel, any more than collaboration with a fellow who has been the keynote speaker for the Ku Klux Klan would speak well of someone appointed to a Commission on Racial Reconcilliation.
And Jezreel’s JustFaith program lives up to expectation. Its reading list, filled with dissenting writers, its distortions of Scripture and Catholic teaching to “reveal” class antagonisms and a “need” to restructure society along Marxist lines, are simply inappropriate “educational materials” for training Catholics. [See “JustFaith vs the Catholic Faith,” www.catholicmediacoalition.org/just_faith.htm]
The bottom line, however, is how hapless Catholics, exposed to JustFaith materials, understand what they have experienced. In one Catholic Forum discussion, a participant writes:
Rich Leonardi, who writes the Cincinnati-based blog, “Ten Reasons,” also had an insightful post:
Additional concerns raised by blogger Leonardi’s friend were that the workshop described:
Leonardi concludes: My friend’s bottom-line assessment: “Based upon my experience, I couldn’t recommend it as a intro to Catholic Social Teaching or any other aspect of lay formation. I was disappointed because I keep hoping to find something I can recommend.” [Rich Lombardi, “Couldn’t recommend it,” Ten Reasons Blog, May 06, 2007]
As an example of CCHD’s miserable “educational opportunity,” JustFaith makes the point about CCHD’s deeply flawed nature even better than its critics’ reports.
Reform CCHD Now!
This article was taken from Spero News, April 16, 2010.