Tag Archives: JustFaith

Who is teaching ‘social justice’ to Catholics? By Stephanie Block

‘Teachers indoctrinating addled ideas have serious consequences…’

Who is teaching ‘social justice’ to Catholics?

Thursday, March 03, 2011
Stephanie Block
That organization is JustFaith.org In 2005, JustFaith entered into a “partnership” with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services to expand “parish and church commitment to social ministry and the role that formation in the justice tradition plays.” To that end, JustFaith has trained the deacons and seminarians of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and other dioceses across the country.
Is this group, however, qualified to teach Catholic deaconate and seminary training programs or parish communities? Consider Mary and Gary Becker who both serve on the national board of JustFaith Ministries Inc. Gary Becker’s bio states:

Gary Becker is presently serving as a deacon and homilist in the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. Gary was ordained to the permanent diaconate in August 1993, while in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, KY, and he retired from that service in May of 2009. He has been married to Mary for forty-six years. Both Gary and Mary are involved in social justice issues and both serve on the national board of JustFaith Ministries Inc., a justice formation program. They also serve on the board of Fonkoze USA, a micro-credit/literacy program in Haiti. In addition, Gary and Mary are spiritual directors who serve on the board of Stillpoint, a local training program for spiritual directors, and they are members of Spiritual Directors International.

For her part, Mary Becker serves on the Church of the Beatitude’s finance committee.

Now, lest one is deceived into imagining that the “Catholic Church of the Beatitudes” is a Catholic Church, it’s instructive to read the pastor’s biography:

Suzanne Dunn sfcc (Sister for Christian Community), is Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes , was ordained a deacon on April 27, 2008 and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest on September 7, 2008. Suzanne has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and maintains a small private practice. In addition, she is a spiritual director and co-facilitator of the Santa Barbara/Ventura Chapter of the Contemplative Ministry Outreach. She is a trained presenter of the Introductory Workshop in Centering Prayer and conducts Silent Saturdays and three- and five-day retreats in Centering Prayer. Suzanne holds an MA in Religious Studies from Seattle University and has studied with Alexander Shaia, Ph.D. in the Journey of Quadratos: Beyond the Biography of Jesus. Suzanne lives out her religious life with a Sister of Notre Dame in Carpinteria, Ca. She is currently an Assistant Program Coordinator for the Western region of RCWP-USA.

Then, there’s the other reverend serving the “Catholic Church of the Beatitudes:”

Jeannette Love was ordained a deacon on August 28, 2010, and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest on September 12, 2010. Her formation as a religious sister and her graduate study at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington School of Theology in New Jersey, account for many enriching years of theological study. She was previously ordained in the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch (not under Rome) and served the Archbishops and the development of the Church for eleven years. Jeannette attended the University of Creation Spirituality, founded by Matthew Fox in Oakland, CA, through which she received a Masters degree (conferred by Naropa University in Boulder, CO). At present Jeannette works as Conference Coordinator at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center, is a spiritual director, facilitates a Centering Prayer Group weekly, and assists Suzanne in ministry at the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. Jeannette resides in Santa Barbara.

In other words, Deacon Gary Becker is a dissident Catholic. As is Jack Jezreel, the Founder and Executive Director of JustFaith who periodically addresses dissident “Catholic” Call to Action events.

As an interesting aside, the website of the Church of the Beatitudes was scrubbed of Gary Becker’s photo on February 26, 2011, right after an email was sent around Catholic circles, describing the connection between Becker and JustFaith. The site as it appears today: http://beatitudes-sb.org/pastoral-staff/; the site as it appeared before February 26: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:HzDs8LZuItMJ:beatitudes-sb.org/pastoral-staff/+church+of+the+beatitudes+gary+becker&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

Such perspectives on the part of key JustFaith personnel have ramifications for how they understand “social justice.” The distorted and rebellious sensibilities that lead people who were once participates in the Catholic Church to set up alternative “Catholic” churches, created in their own images, carries over into their “social justice” activism. They are not teaching Catholic social justice but a perversion that includes, for example, the “right” to be a priest.

Teachers indoctrinating addled ideas have serious consequences. So, one finds that in 2009, in the Diocese of Orange Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong, at least two other Diocese of Orange priests, and crowd of invited Catholics cheered Loretta Sanchez [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q3i9j0KGWI ], one of the most pro-abortion politicians in Congress, at St. Callistus Catholic Parish. The rally was, by the way, led by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development-funded Alinskyian community organization, OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization, an affiliate of the PICO network).

After years of being re-educated in a secular political ideology, is it any surprise that deacons, priests, and perhaps even some bishops have acquired a deeply distorted – dissident — idea of “social justice?”

Many thanks to a source in the Diocese of Orange for assistance in preparing this article.

Stephanie Block is the publisher of Los Pequenos newspaper of New Mexico and a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition.



JustFaith vs the Catholic Faith

By Stephanie Block

JustFaith claims it will “energiz[e] social ministry.” Along with scores of other dioceses, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has been inviting interested Catholics to participate in this expensive program – the registration fee $250 each year for each participant, who must each buy a set of 11-13 books each year, costing $115-$125. The 30-week program also requires showing 14-16 videos every year at a cost of $300-$350 and recommends additional speakers, who are available, of course, for a stipend… not to mention the costs accrued from mandatory weekend retreats.

Expense isn’t the issue, however – the product is. JustFaith is a liberationist propaganda vehicle, a “conversion-based process”, to train participants to “become advocates for justice.”1

Eddie Roth, an editorial writer for the Post-Dispatch, writes in his blog that the program (which he likes, by the way) draws from Fred Kammer’s Doing FaithJustice. What Roth describes is a classic liberationist (Marxist) perspective in which the religious tradition is distorted to “reveal” class antagonisms and a “need” to restructure society along Marxist lines. Roth writes:

Kammer called the sequence the “cycle of Baal….”

– First comes the “original blessing” – all the things that we need to survive and that make life especially worth living, which are seen as “gifts from God” but carry with them the obligation to protect the poor.

– Things start heading down hill, as people become “owners” – with that people start moving away from the poor as what had been seen as a gift becomes for many, Mine!

– As people move away from the poor, they move away from God.

– In God’s place they create other “gods” – in the form of money, land, prestige, even The Bible itself as an object.

– With the creation of these substitutes comes self-destruction.

– Then come prophets who argue that turning away from the poor is the root of the self-destruction and exile.

– The response to which is to attack and ridicule and destroy the prophets.

– Eventually, there is a “crying out for deliverance” and, ultimately, a “restoration.” 2

JustFaith materials include reading lists of works by other problematic authors, including Cloud of Witness by Jim Wallis, an evangelical minister who edits the magazine Sojourners – originally founded to support the anti-war and sanctuary movements. Currently, Wallis is promoting the New Sanctuary Movement to support illegal immigration in the US and the Faith in Public Life network of “spiritual progressives”, many of whom advocate abortion and homosexual advocacy. JustFaith also recommends Selected Readings in Liberation Theology by Gustavo Gutierrez & others.3 Another recommended book is Doing Justice by Dennis A. Jacobsen, which promotes the organizing principles of Saul Alinsky. These are not Catholic materials.

Nor does Jack Jezreel, the founder and director of JustFaith, intend to support authentic Catholic social justice teaching. Jezreel is longtime speaker for the dissident Catholic organization Call to Action,4 which exists to change church doctrine and structure along liberationist lines. He sees JustFaith has a way to “transform parishes”, as he believes they ought to be “transformed,” with parishes holding all parishioners’ goods in common and having a “shared economics”.5

Since it doesn’t represent a Catholic perspective, JustFaith can be – and is – used ecumenically, as it has been in Louisville, Kentucky where the program originated. Little wonder that his program is flawed and the Catholics passing through it are confused about Church teaching. There are inexpensive, authentically Catholic programs, however, to assist contemporary lay activists in developing strategies of action that foster the Faith rather than erode it.6 They are easily accessible if a diocese seriously wants to train Catholic social justice advocates.

1 [JustFaith General Overview 2003-04, prepared by JustFaith for “leaders planning or considering JustFaith.”]

2 www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-platform/editorial-writers-notebooks/2008/08/justfaith/.

3 [handout from Interparish Social Concerns Committee, Northhampton, 2004]

4 Examples of Jezreel’s talks for Call to Action meetings: 1996 CTA national conference; 1997 CTA national conference: “Spirituality of Commitment Making Promises, Friends and Justice”; The fourth West Coast CTA Conference, August 11-13, 2000 at San Jose State University: “Transformed People, Transformed Parish, Transformed World”; Keynote at CTA-affiliated Pax Christi 2007 National Conference

5 [CTANews, December 1997]; At a 2007 South Carolina JustFaith workshop, The Catholic Miscellany of the Greenville Diocese reported that “Jezreel stressed the message that ‘there are to be no poor among you’.”

6 For example, the St. Antoninus Institute (www.stantoninus.net) has free study guides for parish-based Antoninus Circles, providing training in the Church social teachings and practical guidance in decision-making and behavior. Institute materials utilize the social encyclicals of the Catholic Church and the method of St. Thomas Aquinas and his teachings.