IRONDALE, Alabama, October 7, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A new documentary spells out 20th century Marxist radical Saul Alinsky’s influence on the U.S. Catholic Church and society, offering a sobering look at the motivation and ripple effect of the father of community organizing.
Alinsky’s Marxist methods and radical philosophy have had a decidedly marked impact on American society, churches, marriage and family life. More than 800 Alinsky-inspired organizations swath the U.S. today, according to “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” a project of EWTN, Arcadia Films, and City of Light Studios.
“Alinsky’s own interest in the Catholic Church centered largely on its politics, both internal and in relation to other institutions and forces in American society,” the film quotes from Alinsky biographer Sanford Horwitt.
A dark story effectively told
The filmmaking in “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is well done and thought-provoking, persuasively taking viewers through Alinsky’s early days and rise to power, telling his dark tale with powerful music and visuals, reenactments, interviews, video, and audio clips.
The godless nature of Marxism, its dark grip on Alinsky, and his disturbing legacy are firmly established. The evil of this and its far-reaching tentacles are identified, yet we’re not given closure.
Satan’s names, recognized by his tactics — liar, deceiver, divider, accuser, adversary, lawless one, destroyer — are listed in a chilling parallel to Alinsky’s agitation methods, augmented by Alinsky followers after his death and continued today.
“Don’t hate Saul Alinsky,” the filmmakers then appeal to viewers, however, before also imploring prayer for him. An explanation follows that while his passion to help the poor reclaim their dignity was a good intention, his tragedy, inherited by us today, is the evil means he and his follower use to achieve this.
The disposition of Alinsky’s soul notwithstanding, the call to prayer must include petitioning God for deliverance from all he has wrought and for conversion of his remaining followers. And, unfortunately, the bid to establish Alinsky’s good intent pales after the successful conveying of the sinister nature of his Marxism and the damage in his wake.
The documentary delves into numerous specific cases of Alinsky leveraging Church influence at all levels for his benefit, including creation of a controversial national multimillion-dollar anti-poverty program via his collaborators within the Church. Yet it does not address the resulting ramifications of this or the issue of accountability, and leaves the viewer to deduce the Alisky remnants remaining inside the Church.
Major effect today in U.S. politics
The timing of the release of “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is telling, six or so weeks from the U.S. presidential election that will see the end of Alinsky-inspired community organizer Barack Obama’s administration, and the election’s Democratic contender Hillary Clinton having written her senior thesis on Alinsky, though viewers must make that connection themselves.
The film’s tone does an about-face toward the end, turning decidedly upbeat, as if to try to say everything’s OK, despite unresolved issues and Alinsky’s harmful legacy being alive and well today in the Church and society.
This is represented by two wolf tales employed as bookends in the film. The opener has the wolf in sheep’s clothing meeting its end by being hung from a tree for all to see. The closing tale is the happily-ever-after Wolf Of Gubbio story, where the wolf that had terrorized the village was tamed by St. Francis of Assisi, by negotiating an exchange of the wolf ceasing its terrorism for its needs being met.
It’s also underscored through the film’s assertion that Our Lady of Fatima’s request for Russia’s Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has taken place, something that remains in dispute.
Giving voice to the Church
“A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” gives many strong insights into the incompatibility of both Marxism and Gnosticism with Catholicism, as well as the assault of Communism on the Catholic Church.
These are presented in appearance by such figures as Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Leo XII, St. Hildegard of Bingen, Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the Blessed Mother, and the perspective of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Bella Dodd, Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand, and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal co-founders Fathers Andrew Apostoli and Glenn Sudano.
Alinsky himself, along with his gloomy ideology, is disconcertingly brought to life in the many reenactments.
Various predatory European Marxist movements targeting America and persisting today were influences for Alinsky, the film explains, achieving their goals via such societal attacks as political correctness, sexual revolution, anti-Christian and humanist mindsets, and degradation of morals.
“All effective actions require the passport of morality, you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments,” Alinsky states in the documentary. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Make the enemy live up to its own rules, moral rationalization is indispensable at times of action.”
Throughout Alinsky’s life and career, he would remain focused on this ideology operating through rejection of the human individual and the supernatural, telling William F. Buckley Jr. in a 1967 television interview, “My problem and the problem of any organizer of a free society, an open society, is he doesn’t have a prime truth. Truth is relative and changing.”
Alinsky claimed to have grown up poor, but this was untrue, as his father was a successful upper middle class tailor. Born to Jewish Orthodox parents who raised him Jewish, Alinsky became an agnostic who said he was uninterested in his father but was conversely emotionally attached to his overpowering mother.
Where it started
Alinsky studied sociology at the prestigious and progressivist University of Chicago, where he received his early exposure to theories of Marxist social engineering.
After graduation, he obtained a graduate fellowship in criminology, pursuing field work in organized gangs and crime, focusing on Chicago mob boss Al Capone, and being taken under the wing of Capone successor Frank Nitti.
“I called him the professor,” Alinsky says, “and I became his student.”
Alinsky met underworld criminals and got their life stories. His biographer wrote that he knew them or at least knew how to reach them.
He worked with Communists but never joined the party. He also married three times and was the adoptive father to two children with his first wife.
Alinsky’s first literary work, Reveille for Radicals, was originally published in 1946, offering, in addition to “conflict tactics,” his definition of a radical. It said in part, “The American dream was wrought in the fire of the passionate hearts and minds of America’s radicals. It could never have been conceived in the cold, clammy tomb of conservativism.”
Also taken from Alinsky’s definition of a radical is his stated advice in dealing with opponents. “He hates these individuals not as persons but as symbols representing ideas or interests which he believes to be inimical to the welfare of the people.”
This is contrasted in “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” with Pope St. John Paul II's Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern), where the Holy Father states, “The exercise of solidarity within each society is valid when its members recognize one another as persons.”
Dedicated to the Father of Lies
Alinsky’s best-known book, published just before his 1971 death, was Rules for Radicals, which offers social agitation tactics on capturing power.
He dedicated this book to Satan, writing, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history … 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.”
In the book, Alinsky includes a list that qualifies his tactics, called “Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical,” with one that effectively illustrates moral criticism of his philosophy, stating, “In war, the end justifies almost any means.”
Early in the film, EWTN television host Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa gives one example of the concern over Alinsky and Marxism’s ultimate denial of human dignity by citing philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. “If you have as your intention an abstract goodness, then you will have an abstraction of the object of your attention. You’ll treat them as abstractions, because you’re seeking abstract goals.”
Blessed Popieluszko, the Polish solidarity movement’s chaplain martyred in 1984, is quoted to illustrate Marxism’s secular rejection of God and the danger it poses.
“The culture of a nation is also its morality. A Christian nation must be guided by our centuries-old and proven Christian morality,” he states. “A Christian nation has no need of so-called secular morality, which, in the words of the late Cardinal Wyszyński, has no face and offers no hope. It creates a permanent threat to all the spiritual values of a nation and weakens the forces binding it together.”
Alinsky author Stephanie Block is interviewed in the documentary and assists the reader in seeing through the Alinsky façade of helping the poor.
“Alinsky in organizing talked the language of light, they talked the language of peace, they talked the language of helping the poor,” she states. “I mean it all sounds very nice. But what they’re putting into place is something very dangerous, and very different from what it sounds like.”
Block describes one way that Alinsky’s tactics work.
“So I could see that as kind of a gray evil coming in, kind of a fog coming down on a city,” she continues. “You don’t see anything very distinctly, you can see the outlines, you can kind of move through the streets. But your visibility is very limited.”
Real human casualties
Father Pacwa was assigned as a Spanish-speaking Jesuit novice in 1969 to Holy Family Parish in Chicago, the area serving a large population of African Americans in the projects, as well as Hispanics and Italians.
This assignment brought him up close to the reality of Alinsky’s community organizing.
Father Pacwa recalls in the film how he served happily alongside the two other Jesuits at the parish at first, Father Jerry Helfrich and Father John Baumann. The latter was the founder of the leftist Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO), a George Soros-funded community organizing group.
The priests, trained in Alinsky-style organizing, along with Alinsky protégé Tom Gaudette, a Catholic, had asked Father Pacwa to work with them.
“They gave a vision of wanting to help poor people gain some kind of ownership of their own fate in a situation that was way beyond their ability to control,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was doing by any means. But I wanted to learn from them.”
Father Pacwa related his own personal experience of getting pulled into the reality of the Alinsky method of creating an enemy to achieve a particular end.
In this case, the enemy was the neighborhood’s Italians. Two of the young Hispanic men Father Pacwa was working with in ministry were murdered as a result of this climate. Father Pacwa himself was beaten and had to leave town.
“As I look back at that,” Father Pacwa recalls, “where we had set up this situation of enemies, and stirred up other enmities in the community, and that made me pull back and rethink — What are we doing here, with power politics, with the issue of trying to help people? That was clear, there was no doubt of that.”
Separate from morality
“But this was something that became, I think, a core problem,” he continues. “The more I saw it I also I began to realize, one of the problems with Alinsky’s method, is it divorced itself from standard morality.”
“It put a lot of moral issues in another compartment — the irrelevant compartment,” Father Pacwa tells the film’s viewers. “The relevant compartment was, 'Help these poor people, whatever it takes.'”
The results of Alinsky’s maneuvering with the Church was first seen in 1930’s Chicago with an anti-delinquency youth project, and “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” gives ample further detail of his machinations at all levels, exhibited in one example by the 1970 dissenting Call to Action Conference.
Alinsky associates within the Church developed the Campaign for Human Development for the U.S. Bishops’ Conference as the Conference’s anti-poverty program.
The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then USCCB General Secretary, told the Bishops’ Conference that Alinsky’s organizing was “the best process and rationale for organizing people.”
The bishops approved the plan in 1970 and the first national collection was taken in November of that year, netting $8.5 million, the largest in Church history at the time.
The program continues today, now known as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which in part funded Barack Obama’s training in community organizing in the 1980s through the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation.
The Marxist effort to reconstruct society is illustrated with an excerpt of Romanian Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea’s address to the bishops at the Vatican’s 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family, where she clearly identifies this for the Synod fathers and Pope Francis.
“The attack against the family and human life is part of a wider revolutionary attempt to redesign human society and human nature,” Cernea says. “Its motivation is spiritual. It is a form of revolt against God, against His moral law and the order of His creation.”
“There is nothing new or progressive about it,” she continues. “It is the old gnostic error in a contemporary form. Gnosticism has been known in the Church since the first Christian centuries. The basic idea is the same as the serpent’s proposal to Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, to ignore God’s commandment. The serpent was saying the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”
Boldly telling what must be told
“A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is a powerful and brave attempt to sound the alarm for those not yet fully aware of Saul Alinksy and the threat he still poses to the U.S. and the Catholic Church.
It calls for a return to the Church’s social principles rooted in the supernatural life — the sacred dignity of human life, solidarity of God’s children and concern for the human family and the principle of subsidiarity, the primacy of grassroots decision-making — for the sake of saving society from continued destruction of the culture of death brought about by Marxism.
Alinsky’s final interview just before his 1972 death, also quoted in the film, illustrates the need for this.
“If there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell,” he tells Playboy magazine.
“Hell would be heaven for me,” he explains. “All my life I've been with the have-nots. Over here, if you're a have-not, you're short of dough. If you're a have-not in hell, you're short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I'll start organizing the have-nots over there.”
Asked why, Alinsky states, “They're my kind of people.”