For several years now, the friars around here have become involved in activist community organizing. They've done some great work toward achieving better health care for poor and elderly folks, and are also working on the awful question of youth violence.
I've never been into it, and my conscience has bothered me about it. Why not? Shouldn't I care about the rights of the poor? Trying to figure myself out on this point uncovered some previously unarticulated assumptions.
I think because my conversion was heavily influenced by punk rock (especially the anarcho-syndicalist sub-humans of the UK) and also by some catholics with anarchist tendencies (e.g. Simone Weil and Peter Maurin), my imagination about the transformation of the secular world tends more toward the "dual power" model of creating new structures "within the shell of the old" rather than trying to bend the capitalist system to some sense of gospel justice.
I think this is at least part of what caught me heart in St. Francis: he left the world where identity was based on prestige and money and security, went to the lepers, and allowed an alternative society to form around him, based on "downward mobility," the community of "lesser brothers," or friars minor.
I'm not saying I'm right, but that my imagination about re-forming the world seems to come from a different place. But is this out of date? Am I wrong? I'm honestly not sure about this.