Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

The Underground Call to Action

by Stephanie Block


Stephanie Block describes the subversive activities of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and explains how they are connected to Call to Action initiatives.

Larger Work

Forum Focus


7 -16

Publisher & Date

Wanderer Forum Foundation, Inc., Winter 1999

If internal heresy were likened to a disease, how might one imagine its progressive assault against the Body of Christ? The errors embed themselves within the members of diocesan staff and in parish leadership, from that point they spread through polluted catechesis, workshops, and homilies. The inevitable lysis of the Holy Spirit seeks out error and removes it. Therefore, like potent bacteria that breed and mutate and move through the system in innumerable camouflages, internal heresy operates shrewdly, with stealth to avoid detection and eradication.

The Call to Action (CTA) movement is just such a syndrome of internal heresies. To make matters worse, around the CTA movement have grown up a legion of supportive organizations, each with inter-related ambitions. This creates tremendous confusion and generally protects the parent movement against serious crackdown, particularly as there are bishops prepared to speak both for and against it.

In the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, for instance, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz warned Catholics that membership in the organization Call to Action would result in excommunication.1 "All Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln, are forbidden to be members of the organizations and groups listed below," Bruskewitz wrote in a mandate published on March 22, 1996.

"Membership in these organizations is always perilous to the Catholic Faith and most often is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith: Planned Parenthood, Society of St. Pius X, Hemlock Society, Call to Action, Call to Action Nebraska, St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, Freemasons, Job's Daughters, DeMolay, Eastern Star, Rainbow Girls, and Catholics for a Free Choice. Any Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln who attain or retain membership in any of the above listed organizations . . . are by that very fact . . . under interdict and absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion."

On the other side of the spectrum, seven months after the excommunication of Nebraska Call to Action participants, Bishops Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Raymond Lucker of New Ulm, Minnesota were speakers at the National Call to Action Conference.2 The person who observes these antithetical positions must wonder where the other bishops stand in these matters. Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe provides a fairly typical example.

Archbishop Sheehan has been openly critical of Call to Action. He writes: "There is another group called We Are the Church [Call to Action]. This group is composed of people who reject the teaching authority of the Pope and want to force the Holy Father to change the moral teaching of the Church in sexuality (e.g. approval of homosexual acts), and to have ordination of women and married men, among other things. . . . What is to be done in viewing the dissenting movements?. . . We know we are on solid ground when we follow the guidance of the successor of Peter and the Bishops appointed by him."3

However, despite the Archbishop's firm articulation, the Call to Action hub of New Mexico continues to operate unhampered on Archdiocesan property, doing exactly what the Archbishop has decried: it and its associated parish openly promote approval of homosexual acts. A Call to Action "Church Renewal Organization," the Center for Action and Contemplation,4 is situated on the grounds of Holy Family Parish. Speakers at the Center have not only taught that Scripture carries no condemnation of sodomy, but that on the contrary, Jesus has blessed and approved the sexually-engaged homosexual relationship.5 This teaching may have been publicly chastized by the Archbishop of Santa Fe, but it flourishes on his turf. New Mexican Call to Action supporters continue to do as they please.6

Call to Action flourishes in New Mexico in other ways, as well. Erroneous teachings about homosexuality are only one area that Call to Action beliefs filter into the archdiocese through the Center for Action and Contemplation. For example, the Center is a founding member of Albuquerque Interfaith, a local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).7 Albuquerque Interfaith, in association with the IAF, is part of a national network of ecumenical, neighborhood-action groups using diocesan resources. Given the Center for Action and Contemplation's Call to Action philosophy, it is hardly surprising to find that it would support an IAF local, because the IAF is also strongly sympathetic with Call to Action, as demonstrated in a recent Commentary by the Wanderer Forum Foundation.8


The Wanderer Forum Foundation Commentary outlines the history of Industrial Areas Foundation's relationship to Call to Action. That relationship predates October 1976, when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsored a three-day Call to Action Conference in Detroit. This Conference brought together delegates from across the United States to ratify eight position papers, prepared in advance of the Conference.9

Several of these papers had the clear imprint of the Industrial Areas Foundation on them. For example, the working paper on Neighborhood recommended (and it was approved by the Call to Action delegates) that every parish support a "competent," ecumenical neighborhood action group, with diocesan resources used to train organizational "leaders" for their use.10 The IAF had also been involved the year before in a pre-Detroit "hearing" on the topic of Nationhood. The Nationhood working papers subsequently proposed that the Church establish priorities for public policy, define major election issues, educate the laity on the moral dimensions of public issues, and implement these goals ecumenically — in conjunction with other churches and civic groups."11 Msgr. Jack Egan of Chicago, "a longtime Alinsky supporter, IAF board member, and activist on Chicago urban issues,"12 served as co-chair of the 1976 Call to Action plenary sessions.13 The Call to Action "working papers" prepared for the 1976 Detroit Conference contained specific challenges to the discipline and doctrine of the Church.

". . . [M]ore than 2,400 delegates at the conference — people deeply involved in the life of the institutional Church and appointed by their bishops — approve such progressive resolutions, ones calling for, among other things, the ordination of women and married men, female altar servers, and the right and responsibility of married couples to form their own consciences on the issue of artificial birth control."14

However, if the Church is to operate like a political body, as Call to Action has and continues to desire, these changes cannot occur without an organized revolution for change.

Therefore, it has been the effort of Call to Action-related organizations, including the IAF, each within its own sphere of influence, to bring about this work for change. The twenty years after the 1976 inaugural Call to Action Conference have seen implementation of a number of its recommendations by means of church-supported IAF local affiliates. It may not yet be that every United States Catholic parish supports a "competent" ecumenical neighborhood-action group, with diocesan and parish resources used to train organizational "leaders," but there are over 50 local IAF affiliates in various cities around the United States, most of which have the membership of several Catholic parishes. These IAF locals receive Catholic money through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and through the dues of their member parishes. Add to that dozens of additional IAF-style organizations that are also receiving CCHD funds and local Catholic parish membership dues, and one can see that the Call to Action dream of organizing the parishes of the United States is not far off.15


The IAF, besides its historical connections to the first Call to Action, is still associated to it. For one, Msgr. Jack Egan, long-time IAF organizer and promoter, has maintained close and supportive ties to Call to Action. "Long before Call to Action became an organization some bishops banned, it was actually an event organized by the bishops. . . . Locally [in the Chicago area] that discernment led to the formation of a national church reform movement with the same name [Call to Action]. . . . Now, as the 20th anniversary of that historic [Call to Action] meeting approaches, nearly 100 Catholics gathered on Sept. 15th at Rosary College in River Forest to hear the recollections of two of Chicago's most prominent Catholics who attended the Detroit meeting, Msgr. John Egan and Patty Crowley."16 Msgr. Egan was quoted as reminiscing:

"But why did more than 2,400 delegates at the [1976 Call to Action]conference — people deeply involved with the life of the institutional Church and appointed by their bishops — approve such progressive resolutions, ones calling for, among other things, the ordination of women and married men, female altar servers, and the right and responsibility of married couples to form their own consciences on the issue of artificial birth control?. . . . [Because] they had a chance to talk about that issue in terms of personal experience, and they found that people listened, were touched and in many cases changed their minds."17

Msgr. Egan has also been credited for providing the motivating force behind the organization of Chicago's IAF local. United Power for Action and Justice.

". . . Jack Egan initiated this organizing process with religious and union leaders under the name Chicago Metropolitan Sponsors [the name was changed to UPAJ at the 10/19/97 inaugural assembly]. Key support came from Bishop Brazier and Cardinal Bernardin."18

Another significant tie between the Call to Action agenda and the Industrial Areas Foundation is demonstrated in the fact that a number of IAF member institutions are also Call to Action members:

  • Our Lady Queen of Angels Communities, a member of the Texas IAF Valley Interfaith, is listed as a Call to Action participating community.19 The listing includes a description of Our Lady Queen of Angels communities: "We . . . are actively involved in working to change our social reality through Valley Interfaith of the Industrial Areas Foundation."20
  • The Southwest Austin Christian Community of St. lgnatius Martyr Church is listed as a Call to Action participating community.21 The Southwest Austin Christian Community, through St. Ignatius Martyr Church, is a member of Austin Interfaith.22
  • As already mentioned, the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico is listed as a Call to Action participating community. It is a member of the IAF local, Albuquerque Interfaith.23
  • St. Odilia Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona is an institutional member of IAF local affiliate, Pima County Interfaith Council. In March 1998, St. Odilia hosted a Future of Priestly Ministry Dialogue, a joint project of Call to Action and Future Church.24
  • Holy Family in Inverness, Illinois is a member of the IAF local affiliate. United Power for Action and Justice. The pastor of Holy Family, Fr. Patrick Brennan, is a popular Call to Action speaker.25

Yet still another significant link between the Call to Action agenda and the Industrial Areas Foundation can be demonstrated in the speakers at Call to Action activities. The 1996 Call to Action calendar, for example, indicated that Ernesto Cortes, Southwest Regional Director of the IAF, was a guest speaker for a Wisconsin Call to Action workshop.26 The Fall 1998-Spring 1999 Call to Action Calendar of Events shows Sr. Pearl Caesar, an IAF organizer in San Antonio, speaking with John Carr, secretary for the United States Catholic Conference's Department for Social Development and World Peace in Upstate New York. Their Call to Action-promoted talk was hosted by the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities (NAFSCC) and was entitled "The Parish and Small Christian Communities: Organizing for Social Change."27


One's eyes begin glaze at the number and pomposity of names and titles. However, the relationship between diocesan employees and Call to Action work is extremely interesting. The telephone number for the 1998 Call to Action-promoted talk, at which IAF organizer Sr. Pearl Caesar and the United States Catholic Conference's John Carr were speakers, is for the offices of the Archdiocese of Louisville. Someone working for the Archdiocese of Louisville was coordinating a Call to Action talk scheduled in upstate New York.

The archdiocesan number provided by the Call to Action calendar serves many offices, including the office of Ms. Joan Cunningham, who wears several hats. She serves as the Coordinator of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Louisville.28 She is also the "Membership Coordinator" of the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities (NAFSCC — an association for Diocesan Personnel). Therefore, Ms. Cunningham, as a coordinator for the NAFSCC, has been fielding inquiries at her archdiocesan office about a Call to Action/ NAFSCC weekend in upstate New York.29 Without a good deal of information about these various organizations and their relationship to one another, it is unlikely that Ms. Cunningham would be called on supporting a Call to Action activity.

However, the relationships are there. NAFSCC connections to Call to Action are several-fold. In addition to hosting a Call to Action-promoted event, one past chair of the NAFSCC, Rosemary Bleuher, who is currently the RENEW 2000 director for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, has been a speaker at the National Call to Action Conference.30 She has also, incidentally, served on the Advisory Board of the Campaign for Human Development.31

NAFSCC held a joint board meeting in July 1998 with Buena Vista, an organization whose founding affiliate group is a Call to Action Church Renewal Organization, and with the National Alliance of Parishes Restructuring into Communities (NAPRC), an organization headed by the popular Call to Action speaker, Rev. Arthur Baranowski.32." Together, the three organizations have issued a common mission statement, plan to establish a common website, a common brochure, a joint conference for 2002, and hold an agreement about "the priority of church, Small Church Communities and the work that will be accomplished by mutual respect and promotion of the three diverse ways of transforming the Church."33 (The "three diverse ways of transforming the Church" are through the work of these three organizations.)

The NAFSCC is "committed to the vision of Small Christian Community (SCC) as a style of parish life"34 To that end, the NAFSCC has joined "informally" not only with representatives of the above groups, but with several others around the country as well, to gather information about the connection between Small Christian Communities and the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). In addition to Buena Vista, NAFSCC, and the NAPRC, this "informal" group includes:

1. the NCCB Committee on Evangelization;

2. the National Pastoral Life Center 35; and

3. RENEW International.

The operative words in all this plethora of activism, acronyms, and networking are "Small Christian Communities." The effort of these coordinated bodies is to encourage small, more personal "faith-based" groupings within the parish structure. Some of these small groups take beneficial and unobjectionable forms, such as orthodox prayer groups and Bible studies. Other forms of the "Small Christian Community," however, are autonomous from the Church, and evangelize fellow Catholics with a heterodox theology, political conscientization, or both. The October 1998 Call to Action weekend in Canandaigua, NY, hosted by the NAFSCC, given by an IAF organizer and a USCC official was, recall, "The Parish and Small Christian Communities: Organizing for Social Change."

Just as NAFSCC and Call to Action are promoting the "Small Christian Communities," so too RENEW literature says that its program aims to establish SCCs within each parish.36 The North American Forum for Small Christian Communities began, as a matter of fact, in response to the RENEW program: "In 1984, people completing RENEW began talking about how to continue to come together for support."37

Whether fostered by RENEW International, by the Church-based community organizing of the IAF and similar groups, by the NAFSCC, by the NAPRC, or by Call to Action, the "Small Christian Communities" have similar roots. "RENEW" was developed by Call to Action's Archbishop Peter Gerety38 and has a strong, "social justice" component.39 That component, if removed from the moral framework of the Church, lends itself very nicely to politically left-wing, Alinsky-style community organization. Call to Action, in turn, organized, in part, by Alinsky supporter, Msgr. Jack Egan, has used many of the organizational and confrontational tactics he had learned in the IAF.40 Therefore, it comes as little surprise to learn that the IAF also has created small faith communities in the member churches of its local affiliations. What, then, is the "social change" being promoted by Call to Action Small Christian Communities and by IAF small faith communities? Is it the social change that occurs when men are converted to Christ or is it a materialistic counterfeit?


Harold McDougall, writing prior to 1993, traces the influence that the North American version of liberation theology, such as that espoused by black historian, writer, and Democratic Socialist, Dr. Cornel West, has had on the Baltimore IAF whose participating pastors have networked together to develop a "consistent" theology."41 He particularly describes the intimate fellowships which the local, BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development), encourages. Integral to these small communities is Bible study and prayer, the "text" of Scripture always being related to — or filtered through — the "context" of community.

The "religious" elements of these groups under IAF influence are clearly subordinate to the IAF's organizational perspective. The organization makes use of religious symbols and sentiment to further its own intentions.

"An identity needs symbols and rituals to sustain it. Prayers are an important part of religious practice for all Christians. IAF organizations start all meetings with a prayer. . . . Prayer serves to tap the religious sentiment that motivated many leaders to get involved with the IAF. Moreover, they act as symbols to remind participants of their religious commonality. Since these prayers are to serve a unifying function, they typically draw from Scriptures that stress the importance of Community. Prayers that emphasize affirmation of faith, or that are associated too strongly with particular denominations, are avoided. Instead, ministers (and leaders) say prayers that call people to social action, or that refer to the rebuilding of community. For example, before the start of COPS' [San Antonio local, Communities Organized for Public Service] 20th anniversary convention, Fr. Al Jost told the story of Ezekiel's prophecy for the rebuilding of Jerusalem; he did not say the 'Hail Mary'."42

Along the same lines, Ernesto Cortes is quoted as having said that "all of the sponsoring churches [in the IAF] believe in making a preferential option for the poor, the people who in a biblical sense have not yet come to the table. Christ said, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' He was the Good Shepherd who brings his flock into the life of the community."43 Cortes constructs a confused image. Christ's kingdom, which is not of this world, and the eternal Eucharistic table, are jammed together with the IAF's community organizing and political activism. The biblical sense of "poor," as in "poor of spirit," is one concept. "Preferential option," that is, the provision of material advantages for the physically poor is another concept. Cortes, to his own advantage, blurs the two concepts, as if there were no distinction.

This is similar to the abuse of Scripture in Latin America in which the Bible is "re-read" to provide a support of ideological aims. The similarity between the IAF and liberationist distortions of Scripture doesn't lie with a shared or common "outcome," for unlike Marxist Christians in Latin America, the IAF is not fomenting violent revolution, but it lies in the retelling of Scripture for materialistic purposes. God's intervention on behalf of the Israelites to protect Jerusalem in the book of Nehemiah is given a "spin" by the IAF to provide providential support for their Nehemiah housing projects in New York, California, and Tennessee.

The base communities formed at the instigation of the IAF, or at the instigation of proponents of liberation theology, and other such groups with a "guided" materialistic content, are different from spiritually motivated small faith-fellowships and Bible study groups. The common denominator of IAF to liberation theology's base communities can been appreciated in the comments of Latin American liberation theologian Carlos Mesters:

"When the [base] community takes shape on the basis of the real-life problems of the people, then the discovery of the Bible is an enormous reinforcement. When the community takes shape only around the reading of the Bible, then it faces a crisis as soon as it must move on to social and political issues... "44

The real significance of the base community to the IAF organizer is in the "joint interpretation and celebration of the hopeful messages of the Bible that empowered these people, giving them a sense of direction and purpose as well as a sense of self-worth."45 It is in the base community that the IAF believes the deeper, stronger "relationships" of a community can be forged, where people share not merely a common political ambition, but their intimate and personal concerns. Such close-knit fellowships then "feed" into the political goals of the larger group, for "people identify with, and follow, their leaders" who are well-known and trusted.46

The base communities of the IAF do not discuss Marxist praxis but the "participatory democracy" of the democratic socialists. "The IAF shapes the use of this religious culture by its consensual political strategy. It frames its issues within a broader context of religious and family values. Meanwhile, it taps religious symbols and practices, like prayers, for political purposes."47

Along the Mexican-Texan border in the Diocese of Brownsville, not far from Sr. Pearl Caesar's San Antonio, there are 500 small communities which have been networked together since the late 1980s, "working to change our social reality through Valley Interfaith of the Industrial Areas Foundation."48

The IAF has not hesitated to use its small faith communities to involve itself in the internal life of the Church: Peter Skerry reports that the IAF was involved in the election of a Texas bishop: "Fundamental to the success of COPS [San Antonio IAF local] has been the support of Archbishop Flores, himself the beneficiary of a COPS letter writing campaign when the hierarchy was considering his appointment."49

The "social change" sought by the IAF is a Marxist reorganization of the government, the economy, and a church that can and will support such changes.


Which brings us full circle, back to New Mexico, where the IAF local has become involved in the Archdiocesan RENEW program. Organizer Tim McCluskey of Albuquerque Interfaith held a Leadership Development Workshop at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on June 15, 1996. There he was recorded, saying: ". . . [I]f you give me 50 names of other people in this congregation who you think I should talk to... I'll go talk to them in that period of time, and see what kind of story we're getting: how do we feed that into the RENEW."50 It has also been reported that Albuquerque Interfaith organizers have offered to train the pastoral council members of other Albuquerque parishes, as well. In this way, the internal life of the parish becomes scrambled with the community organizers' methodologies, ideologies, and secular agenda.

One begins to see how a bishop might denounce the dissenting opinions of an organization like Call to Action while yet, wittingly or unwittingly, support an entire host of insidious programs and organizations that are at work to make the agenda of dissent an increasing social and theological reality. All he has to do is leave those organizations in place and see to it that they receive plenty of Catholic support.

Call to Action is not a marginalized group of aging activists meeting once a year to spur one another on to stranger and stranger spiritual oddities. It is a highly organized, well-entrenched network of sympathetic bishops, religious, and highly placed diocesan lay employees who seek to radically alter essential Church teachings on matters of morals and faith. It includes people who are also working for radical societal changes, which they believe can be shaped and implemented through church-based organizing. Nevertheless, they must remain "underground." The reason they must, for the present, remain underground is that Call to Action receives scant support among the Catholic faithful.51 Therefore, Call to Action-related organizations and individuals must mask their agendas and deny their inter-connectedness.


1. The Extra Synodal Legislation mandated by Bishop Bruskewitz that excommunicated all Call to Action members within his diocese went into effect as of Apr. 15, 1996.

2. On Friday, Nov. 15, 1996, Bishop Ray Lucker spoke on "Small Faith Communities and My Journey in Faith." On Saturday, Nov. 16, 1996, auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton spoke on "Call to Action: Past, Present, Future." The 1996 Call to Action National Conference was held in Detroit, Michigan and bore the theme of "We Are Church." Gumbleton was a speaker at the 1995 Call to Action Conference, had been scheduled to speak at the 1994 Call to Action Conference (but had to cancel), and was a speaker and Mass celebrant at the 1993 Call to Action Conference.

3. Archbishop Michael Sheehan, "Dissenting Movements," People of God, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, May 1998.

4. The Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) is listed in the 1998 Edition of the Call to Action Renewal Directory. The Center promoted the Call to Action "We Are Church" Coalition in its December 1996-January 1997 issue of Radical Grace (a publication of CAC).

5. June 27-29, 1997 retreat, "Coming Out, Coming Home: A Place in the Church for Lesbians and Gays" held at the Center for Action and Contemplation. Fr. Jack Robinson, OFM, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Albuquerque, and one of two speakers at the retreat, taught that Jesus' healing of the Centurion's servant [Matt. 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10] was a blessing of an openly homosexual relationship: ". . . what we have here is probably a direct encounter of what we would call today 'gay.' Christ's reaction is acceptance of the person and even eagerness to restore health of the pais and by implication, to restore the relationship of the two, making possible the renewal of any sexual activity which they would have enjoyed together prior to the illness"

6. A) Holy Family hosted a speaker from PFLAG at its Oct. 12, 1998 Sunday Masses. B) Dignity, a Call to Action "Church Renewal Organization," meets at Holy Family. According to the Dignity/New Mexico calendar, Dignity members regularly attend the 5:30 p.m. Mass at Holy Family each Saturday except the first weekend of the month, when they gather at the University of New Mexico Aquinas Newman Center. (The Aquinas Newman Center has also hosted We Are Church [Call to Action] activities.) Dignity and PFLAG both challenge Church teaching that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that homosexual acts are objectively immoral. NB: These activities occurred after the May, 1998 letter of Archbishop Sheehan in the People of God.

7. As proclaimed in a 1994 flyer concerning up-coming programs, produced by the Center for Action and Contemplation. As recently as at an October 29, 1998 Interfaith gathering at the Ernie Pyle School in Albuquerque, CAC was still identified as an Interfaith member. The Archbishop has given his public support of Albuquerque Interfaith in several ways, most notably a letter sent to all Archdiocesan pastors, dated Apr. 18, 1994. The letter opens: "I write you today to encourage your parish to become involved in a very special organization, Albuquerque Interfaith."

8. A Commentary on the Industrial Areas Foundation, Wanderer Forum Foundation, December 1998.

9. The position papers were on the topics of 1) Nationhood, 2) Neighborhood, 3) Family, 4) Humankind, 5) Personhood, 6) Ethnicity, 7) Church, and 8) Work. They are described in a number of places, one being the Call to Action "Working Papers: Introduction," NCCB, undated (circa 1976).

10. 1976 Call to Action working paper on "Neighborhood," pg. 12, lines 10-17.

II. 1976 Call to Action working paper on "Nationhood" p. 12, lines 13-17.

12. The Neighborhood Works, op. cit.

13. Heidi Schiumpf, "Remembering the First Call to Action Conference," The New World News, Sept. 20, 1996.

14. The New World News, op. cit.

15. Other IAF-style organizations that have American Catholic parishes as members or that are funded by Catholic Campaign for Human Development money are PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organization with about 25 local affiliations in cities around the United States), ACORN (Association of Communities organized for Reform Now, with dozens of local affiliates. acorn's platform is openly socialist), DART (Direct Action and Research Training Center, with about a dozen affiliates in different cities), and the Gamaliel Foundation (with about 45 local affiliates in various cities).

16. Heidi Schiumpf, "Remembering the First Call to Action Conference," The New World News, Sept. 20, 1996, column 1.

17. Ibid.

18. "United Power for Action and Justice Meeting Series at St. Michael's, May, 1998," Notes from Meeting I, May 7, 1998, indirectly quoting Cheri Andes, IAF organizer who was conducting the meeting.

19. Call to Action Renewal Directory, 1998 Internet Edition, Texas listings.

20. Call to Action Renewal Directory, 1996 Internet Edition, Texas listings.

21. Call to Action Renewal Directory, 1998 Internet Edition, Texas listings.

22. Buena Vista News, 1998, p. 5. Also: listing of member congregations in Austin Interfaith

23. Call to Action Renewal Directory, 1998 Internet Edition, New Mexico listings, including the Center for Action and Contemplation. Also: Albuquerque Interfaith information for the year 1994 — List of dues-paying members.

24. 1995 Listing of Pima County Interfaith Council member organizations. Http:// members.html. Also: "Call to Action Newsbriefs," Church-watch, May 1998. Http://

25. Holy Family Parish Bulletin, October 5, 1997, letter from the pastor, Pat Brennan; 1996 Call to Action Conference listing of focus sessions, including "Traditions and Mc-Church" by Patrick Brennan; announcement of August 1997 West Coast Call to Action Conference, listing Patrick Brennan as a speaker.

26. Call to Action Calendar, October 17-19, 1996, "Build the City of God: 6th Annual Urban Ministry Conference," Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

27. Call to Action Calendar of Events, obtained at The event was held on October 15-18 in Canandaigua, NY.

28. NCCB/USCC listing of diocesan evangelization contacts:

29. Http://

30. 1998 Call to Action National Conference mailer lists Bleuher as a speaker on "Imagining Future Church: Small Christian Communities."

31. Short bio of Rosemary Bleuher — a

32. The Arvada, Colorado Buena Vista is listed in the 1998 Edition of the Call to Action Renewal Directory; Bob Keeker, "Prayer Amid Life," News Day, Aug. 3, 1996 identifies Rev. Arthur Baranowski as the president of the National Alliance for Parishes Restructuring into Communities stationed in Maryville, MI. Baranowski, according to various Call to Action literature, has spoken at the National Call to Action Conference in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

33. Buena Vista News, accessed at The material is undated, but would have to have been prepared between August (the joint board meeting was held on July 28-29, 1998) and November 1998; An undated NAFSCC flyer states that Buena Vista, NAFSCC, and NAPRC have created a Joint Task Force.

34. Undated NAFSCC flyer.

35. The telephone number for the National Pastoral Life Center is the same as the telephone number for the USCC's Roundtable: National Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Directors; Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP of the National Pastoral Life Center sits on the 1999 NAFSCC Board and serves as Board Secretary; The National Pastoral Life Center is run by Msgr. Philip Murnion, who serves as staff director of the Call to Action-supported Common Ground Project, decried by Cardinals Law, Bevilacqua, and Hickey.

36. According to RENEW International literature, small faith sharing groups are one of the four ways a parish can join in the RENEW "conversion process."

37. Undated NAFSCC flyer.

38. Brian Clowes, Call to Action or Call to Apostasy? Human Life International, 1997. "Dissenting priest Fr. Bill Callahan [in a Feb/Mar 1995 article in Call to Action publication, Churchwatch] revealed that the SFC's [Small Faith Communities] will be used as an agent of change in the Church, and that dissenters will then attempt to inject these changes back into the Church: 'It is important for these communities to move forward with married priests, with women priests'." ". . . SFCs are a refinement of the 'small faith-sharing groups' envisioned in the RENEW Program, which itself was developed by Archbishop Peter Gerety, an organizer of the original 1976 Call to Action Convention in Detroit." "It is obvious that CTA-style small faith communities are antithetical to the apostolic mission of the Roman Catholic Church because they cause people to turn in towards themselves instead of directing their energies towards evangelizing the world. Every dissenting SFC will be as unique as the beliefs of its members, and in no case will these beliefs reflect those of the One True Faith or further the cause of evangelization of the world"

39. A "sample bulletin insert" prepared by the RENEW 2000 office of the Diocese of Joliet (presumably under the direction of Rosemary Bleuher, past Chair of NAFSCC) says: "If you ever wanted to do volunteer work or felt you were being called to some kind of service but didn't know where to go or what to do, consider joining a Small Christian Community (SCC) group in the Fall. One of the elements of SCC is service."

40. See Fr. Vincent Miceli's eyewitness account of the 1976 Detroit Call to Action, "Detroit: A Call to Revolution in the Church," Homiletic and Pastoral Review, March 1977.

41. Harold McDougall, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community, 1993.

42. Mark R. Warren, Creating a Multi-Racial Democratic Community: A Case Study of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1995.

43. Kaye Northcott, "To Agitate the Dispossessed . . . On the Road with Ernie Cortes," Southern Exposure, July/August 1985.

44. Harold M. McDougall, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community, 1993, quoting Carlos Mesters, "The Use of the Bible in Christian Communities of the Common People."

45. Harold M. McDougall, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community, 1993.

46. Ibid. The "Small Christian Communities," called "Base Communities (Comunidades de Base)" in Latin America, were a critical component to Marxist organizing in there, among churches swallowed up by the liberation theology movement. The concern is that these "Small Christian Communities" might be used in a similar way to the Marxist "Base Communities" by severing the faithful from their connection to the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church) and replacing that connection with parochial loyalties, political prejudices, and idiosyncratic spirituality.

47. Mark R. Warren, Creating a Multi-Racial Democratic Community: A Case Study of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard, 1995.

48. "Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Communities," taken from the "Renewing our Church Directory" published by Call to Action.

49. Peter Skerry, "Neighborhood COPS," New Republic, Feb. 6,1984.

50. Taped recording of IAF organizer Tim McCluskey, Albuquerque Interfaith Leadership Development Workshop, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Albuquerque, NM, June 15, 1996.

51. The Call to Action "We Are Church Referendum," a petition distributed among United States Catholics in 1996, boasted that it would receive over a million signatures in support of Church reorganization, birth control, women and married priests, etc. It attained barely 1/3 of its goal.


What is the Industrial Areas Foundation?

Ethics from Hell

The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) was begun by Saul Alinsky, who wrote:

"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical; from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer." — Saul Alinsky, dedication. Rules for Radicals

Alinsky meant what he said. The "ethics" he proposed to his community organizers was straight from hell:

"The third rule of the ethics of means and ends is that . . . the end justifies almost any means." — Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (chapter "Of Means and Ends")

Little has changed in the IAF's arsenal of "ethics."

"All participants in the Industrial Areas Foundation national training programs are given a reprint of a 1933 article by John H. Randall Jr., titled 'The Importance of Being Unprincipled' . . . The thesis is that because politics is nothing but the 'practical method of compromise,' only two kinds of people can afford the luxury of acting on principle . . . everyone else who wants to be effective in politics has to learn to be 'unprincipled' enough to compromise in order to see their principles succeed." — Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger (p. 210, footnotes for chapter 16, #4)

Reaping As You Sow

What is IAF doing today to use these "ethical" principles? For one thing, it attempts to give the appearance of public support for educational reform that:

  • Produces inferior academic achievement. [See federally funded research sited at documents/seven-reasons .htm]
  • Destroys traditional parental rights and responsibilities. The parent is only one of many "stakeholders" in his child.
  • Creates government control over all facets of a citizen's life by "organizing communities around schools." Schools that are struggling simply to teach academic skills are now asked to regulate job placement, establish a student's "career track," oversee mental and physical health care, dental care, and welfare.
  • Pushes its educational reform despite lack of parental involvement or support of this reform. While claiming to represent thousands, each IAF local has only a few, hand-picked supporters from each congregation to back its educational "reform" movement. These individuals say that they speak for the entire faith-based community, but how many of their fellow congregants would agree?

Why is the IAF organizing in your church?

". . . one of the largest reservoirs of untapped power is the institution of the parish and congregation. Religious institutions form the center of the organization. They have the people, the values, and the money." — Organizing for Family and Church (pg. 18), IAF Publication

"Today, when many countries have seen the fall of ideologies which bound politics to a totalitarian conception of the world — Marxism being the foremost of these — there is no less grave a danger that the fundamental rights of a human being will be absorbed once again into politics." — John Paul II, Centesimus Annus



The Social Changes Proposed by Call to Action

Here is a partial listing of the Call to Action Catholic Organizations for Renewal. The social changes promoted by these groups are self-explanatory:

  • Catholics for a Free Choice (pro-abortion)
  • Conference for Catholic Lesbians (homosexual advocacy)
  • Friends of Creation Spirituality (Matthew Fox's neopagans)
  • Core of Retired Priests United for Service (married priesthood advocacy)
  • Dignity (homosexual advocacy)
  • FutureChurch (promotes feminist theology, including destruction of a patriarchal hierarchy)
  • New Ways Ministry (homosexual advocacy)
  • Pax Christi (women priesthood advocacy, among other things)
  • Woman's Ordination Conference (women priesthood advocacy)
  • Association of Rights of Catholics in the Church (advocates elected priests and bishops, contraception, self-determined divorce and remarriage, and homosexual relationships)


Is the Call to Action organization of 1999 related to the Detroit Call to Action Conference of 1976?

Today's Call to Action organization sees itself as directly descended from the 1976 Detroit Call to Action Conference. In the organization's own words:

"[Responding to Pope Paul VI's 1971 "Call To Action" to create a more just world] the U.S. Bishops on their return home from the Synod launched a creative consultation process. Over 800,000 Catholics testified during two years of hearings, which culminated in the U.S. Bishops' Call To Action Conference in Detroit in 1976, held in conjunction with the American Bicentennial. More than 100 Bishops were among the 1,340 voting delegates and the 1,500 observers. At the end of three momentous days of discussion and debate, the assembly declared the Church must stand up to the chronic racism, sexism, militarism and poverty in modern society. And to do so in a credible way the Church must reevaluate its positions on issues like celibacy for priests, the male-only clergy, homosexuality, birth control, and the involvement of every level of the Church in important decisions. The Detroit conference recommended that each diocese take the recommendations home and act upon them.

CTA Chicago Born

"Subsequent to the 1976 Conference the leadership of the U.S. Bishops Conference gradually distanced themselves from the event because of some of the Church-justice issues raised. In Chicago, however, where Cardinal John Cody's autocratic style had created a high level of tension, several organizations of nuns, priests. Catholic school teachers and concerned laity urged an on-going follow-up to the Detroit initiative. A conference of over 400 people was held in October 1978, and Chicago Call To Action was launched as a local organization."

—A Brief History of Call To Action [taken from the Call to Action website]


STEPHANIE BLOCK is the Director of Special Research Projects for the Wanderer Forum Foundation. Her research for the Foundation has included studies about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Industrial Areas Foundation. Mrs. Block has contributed articles to The Wanderer newspaper. The Pillar, and has written Change Agent: The Industrial Areas Foundation in the Catholic Church. She has made presentations at Regional Wanderer Forums in Albany, NY, and Chicago, IL, and at the 30th Annual International Wanderer Forum in 1997. Mrs. Block is the home-schooling mother of seven children.

© Wanderer Forum Foundation, P.O. Box 542, Hudson, WI 54016-0542

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