How To Shoot Yourself

Stephanie Block

How to Shoot Yourself

One of the Most Potent Weapons Serving the Culture of Death Lies in the Pockets of Good Catholics.

The Catholic Church is one institution in contemporary society, perhaps the only one,
that has consistently decried the evil of abortion at all stages and by all methods. Yet in the United States, it promotes a charity that puts large sums of money into the hands of those who serve the culture of death. It takes a certain degree of sophistication to follow this donated money along its various circuitous routes, but failure to do so is deadly.  The Catholic Campaign for Human Development ((C)CHD)

– aided and abetted by glitzy ad campaigns and appealing slogans – spends
million of dollars annually on organizations that have death at the end of the trail.


In 2002, about 30 employees from four Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Brownsville
signed union contracts with their pastors. The union is the (C)CHD-supported United Farm Workers.

The situation is intriguing from a number of viewpoints. First is the consideration of the paid church employee. Hasn’t he the same needs as any other worker? Is it just that he may find himself terminated without unemployment compensation?

The bishop has another perspective. Lay personnel in chancery and parish offices are a fairly new phenomena in the history of the Church. The religious who formerly held such positions worked for the love of God and had the safety network of their communities. While the lay employee may be every bit as idealistic and committed as the religious of the past, the social structures that protected religious employee from personality conflicts and economic vicissitudes simply don’t exist for the laity. From where should the safety net come?

Unionization, the solution under consideration, puts parish employees, their pastors, and bishops, into complex relationships. Priests coming into a new parish are bound by the negotiations of the predecessors, for example. Personnel changes become increasingly cumbersome, bureaucratic and external to parish life. These are not attractive developments.

Just how unattractive was seen one year after the ink on the union contracts had dried. Rev. Jerry Frank was moved from the unionized Holy Spirit in McAllen, June 2003 and the newly appointed Rev. Ruben Delgado promptly dismissed four of his parish workers. Parishioners from the four unionized parishes protested.

The fur flew. According to Fr. Frank, the firings were arranged by the bishop to break
the union. According to the bishop, the protests were orchestrated events, not spontaneous expressions of public displeasure.

The bishop ought to know. The four unionized churches have more in common than the United Farm Workers union. For one thing, they areall members of the (C)CHD-supported Valley Interfaith.

Fr. Frank and Rev. Bart Flaat, then pastor of St.Joseph the Worker of McAllen, have both been particularly active as Valley Interfaith leaders.

In addition, although not too surprising if one knows the longstanding connections, Fr.
Frank’s parish is the seat of dissident Call to Action activity in the diocese.

Immediately after the firings, the local Call to Action chapter had 300 people meeting at a local community center, and calling for the bishop’s resignation.

The situation has compelled national Call to Action attention. A national spokesman for Call to Action was interviewed in the McAllen paper.

Over a dozen articles about the four firings are carried on the Call to Action web

The bishop, sounding defensive, is quoted as saying: “I have always been an advocate

for social justice in Texas. I have supported labor’s right to collective bargaining, and I support it now. Cesar Chavez [founder of the UFW] was my friend, and as a young priest I supported his organizing efforts.”

He’s speaking the truth. Bishop Raymundo Peña has been a strong supporter of
Alinskyan organizing as far back as 1982, when he was bishop of El Paso. In addition to his friendship with the United Farm Workers, Bishop Peña helped found the El Paso
Interfaith Sponsoring Committee (known as EPISO), a local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). The IAF is a network of organizations which includes Valley Interfaith and which receives, through its affiliates, between 15% -16% of (C)CHD funding annually.

But Alinskyan organizations teach that there are no permanent enemies or allies. Bishop Peña enjoyed Valley Interfaith, and its attendant Call to Action, support only so long as he followed their agenda. Once he crossed them, they bit back hard.

There’s another issue in this (C)CHD story in all this, buried beneath the layers of

betrayal, honest struggle, and raw manipulation. A press release celebrating the 5th anniversary “miracle” of El Milagro Clinic is on the St. Joseph the Worker parish of

McAllen website. It says that El Milagro was opened thanks to “three years of hard work by leaders of Valley Interfaith,” which has received well over half a million dollars of (C)CHD grants in the past ten years. What doesn’t appear on the St. Joseph the Worker press release is that El Milagro clinic is one facet of the Integrated Health Outreach System Project (IHOS).

IHOS is a “community health development approach” that partners various health
care workers, educators, and human services. It sounds innocuous until one examines
the project’s partners, including Planned Parenthood, which is working weekly in the
colonias, doing patient screenings.


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