Saul Alinsky and the Catholic Church in America – Part I
For the last 20 + months I have been spending many hours researching a topic I wish didn’t exist.
Saul Alinsky, self-promoting Marxist “community organizer” and his influence on the Catholic Church in America is the reality I have been living for almost two years.
I know, I know, sounds like another nut off on a conspiracy theory. Yes, I also know there have been articles on the topic in the last six months. So you ask, what do you Always Catholic have that’s new?
The handful of articles that have been written have brushed lightly across the topic using only the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) which IS part of the US Bishop’s Conference in reference to Alinsky.
I have sent some of these organizations my information that I have culled through my research (backed up with hard evidence) to use without credit to myself. What I have seen (with the exception of a few) is a reduced down to nothing essay on the fine thread that connects Alinsky to the Church.
I have lost many of a night’s sleep worrying that what I would write would scandalize the Church. I asked a good and holy priest what I should do. He told me simply, “It is a scandal if I don’t get the truth out to people, so we can defend the Church.”
So started the march towards the founding of this Blog. As I collected more & more damning evidence the Evil One made sure that I couldn’t get it out.
I have a serious heart condition called “Cardiomyopathy” and having a Blog is not on the list of the medicines to keep me alive. I knew that I had to do this, however, because soon I may meet Our Lord for my Particular Judgment. I knew in my gut I couldn’t explain NOT doing anything.
I first had a date for the Blog of the Feast of the Assumption, August 15th, . Weeks of serious heart failure lead up to the blog being pushed back. Pneumonia back to back and flare-ups of the heart failure in between! The one constant to fight the Evil One was the prayer support from priests, family and friends. Twitter has provided me with prayer support like I have never seen. I consider the people I have met on Twitter real friends because they never stopped praying. They have never stopped emailing, tweeting me and for me.
Be gone demon, we are here to defend Holy Mother Church!
All the prayer support has paid off. Our Lord sent me someone to design the Blog & to be there for me everyday as a sister I never had. All my friends prayed for me to be obedient to the Doctor and their prayers were heard. The Blog finally debuted on March 19th, the Feast of Saint Joseph. St. Joseph has come across my path so many times in these last 2 years. Obviously, I needed to acknowledge him as the Patron of our Blog. Who else better than the Patron Saint of the Universal Church. Priceless.
When we do the Will of God, miracles happen. It might not be the big “bells & whistles” miracles that get Saints beatified, but miracles just the same. I’m living proof of it.
Now, you have the back story. Let’s get to the facts.
From an interview in Playboy magazine in 1972 an example of Alinsky’s brashness:
ALINSKY: “Well, the first thing I did, the first thing I always do, is to move into the community as an observer, to talk with people and listen and learn their grievances and their attitudes. Then I look around at what I’ve got to work with, what levers I can use to pry closed doors open, what institutions or organizations already exist that can be useful. In the case of Back of the Yards, the area was 95 percent Roman Catholic, and I recognized that if I could win the support of the Church, we’d be off and running. Conversely, without the Church, or at least some elements of it, it was unlikely that we’d be able to make much of a dent in the community.”
I am starting out on this point to show that in his own words, the die was cast.
Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972), the child of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents Benjamin and Sarah (Tannenbaum) Alinsky. Though many Jews were active in the new socialist movement during his youth, his parents were not. Instead they were strict Orthodox; their whole life revolved around work and synagogue.
In the early 1930s, Alinksy married Helene Simon, with whom he had two children, a son and a daughter. She died in a drowning accident in 1947. He soon after married Ruth Graham; this marriage ended in divorce in 1970.
On June 12, 1972, he died of a heart attack near his home in Carmel, California, leaving his third wife Irene (his second marriage in 1947 to the former Ruth Graham had ended in divorce in 1970).
Alinsky was a leading organizer of neighborhood citizen reform groups in the United States between 1936 and 1972. He also provided philosophical direction for this type of organizing movement.
He was one of the original pioneers of grassroots organizing, and his methods continue to be used long after his death.
Now that we have Alinsky’s personal information we move on to his “resume”.
Saul Alinsky returned from California to study at the University of Chicago from which he earned a doctorate in archeology in 1930. Upon graduation he won a fellowship from the university’s sociology department which enabled him to study criminology. In 1931 he went to work as a sociologist for the Illinois Division of Juvenile Research while also serving at the Institute for Criminal Research and the Illinois Prison Board.
Alinsky went to work for sociologist Clifford Shaw at the Institute for Juvenile Research. He was assigned to research the causes of juvenile delinquency in Chicago’s tough “Back-of-the-Yards” neighborhood. In order to study gang behavior from the inside, Alinsky ingratiated himself with Al Capone’s crowd.
Chicago in the 1930s was still in the grips of the Great Depression. Controlled by the Kelly-Nash political machine and by Frank Nitti (heir to Al Capone’s empire), it was a rough and tumble city. This is the world that shaped Saul Alinsky and his “hard-nosed” politics.
Alinsky pioneered a new face of political activism through his powerful grassroots social movement. The old stockyards neighborhood of Chicago was the birthplace of America’s twentieth century phenomenon known as “Community Organizing.”
In 1936 Alinsky left his positions with the state agencies to cofound the Back-of-the-Yards Neighborhood Council. This was his first effort to build a neighborhood citizen reform group, a form of activity which would earn Alinsky a reputation as a radical reformer.
Back-of-the-Yards was a largely Irish-Catholic community on Chicago’s southwest side near the famous Union Stockyards, which had been deteriorating for many years. Alinsky organized his neighborhood council among local residents willing to unite to protest their community’s decline and to pressure city hall for assistance. The council had great success in stabilizing the Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood and restoring the morale of local residents.
What Alinsky formed with the BYNC set the pattern for what became known as the Alinsky school of organizing. A neighborhood’s existing social groups were utilized—membership in a newly-formed council was based on organizations, rather than individuals. An organizer from outside the community would work with local leaders in setting up a democratic organization. This was a place in which people could freely express themselves, their situations, needs, and fears. The initial efforts of the council centered around basic organization and economic justice. With such goals, the BYNC was successful in uniting the Roman Catholic Church and radical labor unions towards a common goal—the betterment of the community.
[Editor's Note: “goal of the betterment of the community” was the official public relations explanation to explain this joint effort. Next week we go deeper into the BYNC, Alinsky, the Archdiocese of Chicago and Bishop Bernard Shiel as the beginnings of Alinsky's teachings influencing the Catholic Church in America.]
We can see from the sources from the left perspective and from Alinsky’s own words that the association with the Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Chicage was known publicly. The question remains: why wasn’t there any questions from Bishop Sheil’s superior, Cardinal George Mundelein the ordinary of the Chicago Archdiocese? Could it be that Mundelein was also considered a liberal and a friend of FDR?
Sheil was the founder of the widely known Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) that has been accepted at most parishes in the U.S. As a traditional “Catholic” organization for the young. It is true that in most parishes the CYO was an organization where the priests of the parish could hope for vocations and have the kids evangelize the neighborhood “unchurched”. Sheil’s idea for a “Catholic Youth Organization” was very different.
Next week, we ratchet up a few notches when we show take you through Bishop Sheil and the “real” reason for the CYO. We give you the background on Cardinal Mundelein and his successor, Archbishop Samuel Stritch. We show you how FDR wated Sheil to succeed Mundelein and not Stritch.
Another President involved with the Archdiocese of Chicago and Chicago politics? The Archdiocese of Chicago and the Progressives in the U.S. had a common denominator—Saul David Alinsky.
From the 1972 Playboy interview, his own words again, Alinsky states:
My first solo effort was organizing the Back of the Yards area of Chicago, one of the most squalid slums in the country…I always felt that my own role lay outside the labor movement. What I wanted to try to do was apply the organizing techniques I’d mastered with the C.I.O. to the worst slums and ghettos, so that the most oppressed and exploited elements in the country could take control of their own communities and their own destinies. Up till then, specific factories and industries had been organized for social change, but never entire communities. This was the field I wanted to make my own—community organization for community power and for radical goals.
When we finish this series, orthodox Catholics will have the history and the information necessary to stop the Alinsky/Marx influence in their own parish. Time is on our side. Young, intelligent, holy priests are being appointed to our parishes all over the country. These parishes were once held hostage by priests whose theology is at the least suspect and most likely, heretical.
Many of us have heard Glenn Beck’s observations in this last month on “Social Justice” and what it really means. The uproar even among Christians that think Alinsky a Marxist was overwhelmingly negative. After this series, Beck will be seen in a different light. He will be seen as a teacher—one whose style we might not agree with all the time, but in the end we realize the teacher was correct.
Glenn’s problem was rushing to get the information out. If Beck had consulted orthodox priests about “Social Justice” teaching in the Catholic Church, he would have found out that the true teachings of the Church deal solely with Justice. Justice with Christ, His Gospel and His Church as the arbiter—not Marxists, not Alinsky and certainly not Obama. Those that donot teach the Church’s true teachings on Justice are NOT CATHOLIC, EVEN IF THEY HAVE A COLLAR.
Part II : Alinsky as the Common Thread tying up the Church the Progressive way.
God Love You!
Writer and Editor
Saul Alinsky and the Catholic Church in America
Playboy Magazine, Issue Date: March, 1972 ; Vol. 19, No. 3.
Quotes from Alinsky and research information in italics. Emphasis added as needed and indicated by the Editor.