The Audacity of Reform


It takes courage to be a church reformer

It takes Know-How as well!

Shortly before his death in 1972, the highly effective community organizer, SAUL  ALINSKY, published his Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.

In the first chapter’s opening paragraph, he wrote:

“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

Outlining his strategy for organizing, Alinsky continued:

“There’s another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future.”

Roman Catholics TODAY need to examine their consciences.

ARE WE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE PAST SO WE CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE?

ARE WE WILLING TO FACE THE CHALLEGES OF REFORM FROM WITHIN?

ARE WE WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT POPE BENEDICT’S REFORM OF THE REFORM IS NOTHING MORE THAN PIOUS  DOUBLE-TALK?

ARE WE WILLING TO BE CRITICAL THINKERS WHO CHALLENGE FALSEHOOD PRESENTED AS TRUTH  —- WHO REPUDIATE REVISIONIST HISTORY AS A WAY TO JUSTIFY CONTEMPORARY ABBERATIONS?

For Saul Alinsky, organizing was the process of highlighting whatever he believed to be wrong and convincing people they can actually do, something about it. The two are linked. If people feel they don’t have the power to change a situation, they stop thinking about it. And this is exactly where many Catholics are today.

According to Alinsky, the organizer — the reformer — must:

(1)    First overcome suspicion and establish credibility.

(2)   Next begin the task of agitating to get people to participate.

(3)   Reformers have to attack apathy and patterns of complacency.

(4)   By combining hope with a clear and practical strategy for reform, the reformer gathers individuals and groups into a body of reformers.

It does work. And Catholic history — and American history — proves it!

 

Concluding reflections:

It takes courage to be a reformer.

Reformers cannot do it alone.

Reformers are “dissidents” in some people’s eyes. In fact, reformers are authentically loyal to the best of our tradition.

Some of our greatest Catholics were reform organizers: Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Sienna. And let us not forget Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and his “common ground” project. Joseph Bernardin was correct but he had to face being denounced by his brothers: Cardinals Bernard Law, James Hickey, Anthony Bevilaqua and Adam Maida! History will smile on Joseph and shrug its shoulders at the others as simply old  names on library cards…..

Put your arm around one friend today and start your local reform.

Reform can be contageous……

One thought on “The Audacity of Reform

  1. am going to share this article with a couple priest friends of mine, who are open-minded thinkers.
    hope to see you in detroit!

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