Archives for the month of: November, 2011

Mary Ann McGivern at NCR:

the Occupation is not sinners feasting. It is a cry for justice. It expresses the pent-up frustration of people who are suffering. Veterans for Peace was there. A laid-off carpenter who spoke at the rally is losing his house. A teacher talked about her family’s financial struggles. Everybody carried handmade signs about job loss, medical expense and the costs of war.

Some of the troubles occupiers have faced, especially in Oakland, Calif., have been because the Occupation has drawn the homeless mentally ill. That’s a group that has suffered grievously at the hands of capitalism, a group these young occupiers have not rejected.

The first name of my religious community, Loretto, was Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross. Where else should we be standing but with suffering people?

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Jeff Ward at Western Springs Patch:

My first thought was to call on Catholics everywhere to follow my lead and leave a church that so dismally falls short of the expectations they place upon their own flock. But considering all the good the Catholic Church does, I believe that would be the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And then I remembered the fine example being set by the “Occupy” protestors. In spite of this country’s many faults, they’re not abandoning it, they’re reminding our leaders what made it so great in the first place.

So, I’ve decided to issue this challenge instead. Catholics! Take back your church.

At Bilgrimage:

Building on the excerpt I posted yesterday from Jamie Manson’s recentkeynote address at the Call to Action gathering, I want to point to two valuable summaries of what’s happening right now in the Austrian Catholic church.  At Open Tabernacle, Terry Weldon compares the We Are Church movement in Austria, which has the strong support of a sizable proportion of Austria’s Catholic priests, to the Occupy movement.
Terry notes that one of the steps being proposed now by the Occupy movement in Austrian Catholicism is that lay people will begin celebrating the Eucharist in priestess parishes.  This represents a rejection of the “magical” theology about which Jamie Manson speaks in the excerpt to which I pointed yesterday, which assumes that only priests have the power to celebrate the sacraments, and the laity must depend utterly on clerical mediation for those celebrations.  And so the movement on which Terry is reporting asserts, in the face of that magical thinking promoted by the Catholic hierarchy, the right of the people of God to own the sacraments and to invoke the power of the Spirit dwelling within them in sacramental celebrations, as more and more parishes go without clergy (and without the Eucharist), while Rome chooses to hinge the future of Catholicism on the continuation of an historically determined system that will ordain only (ostensibly) celibate men.

At #OccupyChurch DC:

It is difficult for individualist-minded Christians to join a populist movement. This is because we want to intellectually assent, as we would to articles of faith, to the intellectual propositions of Occupy Wall Street. But popular movements are living, breathing entities.When we join a political movement, like when we join the church, we gain brothers and sisters we are sometimes ashamed of. There are missionaries who we dislike, dogmas and creeds that we disagree with. But we are still part of the church, following Christ, for better of for worse.

The role of the church in this crisis is that of the tireless advocate for those who are marginalized by these political processes. It is in that role that we are most faithfully following Christ in the world, among his favorites, the oppressed.

Popular movements say to us, as Jesus does, “Come, follow me.” When we do this with a movement by the poor, for the poor, we become part of Christ’s own body.

Occupy Wall Street is a populist movement started by those who are marginalized by the system, the unemployed, and it is our job to follow their lead. Through participation, we will shape its direction.

From The Open Tabernacle:

Two recent reports from Austria show clearly that the Catholic rebellion is gathering strength: survey research shows that two thirds of the country’s priests support calls for urgent reform, and that lay Catholics have announced plans to ignore Church rules that restrict the celebration of Mass to ordained priests. Instead, they will conduct worship and communion themselves where priests are not available. Meanwhile, in Australia, a separate story from Melbourne illustrates how on a much smaller scale, Catholics elsewhere are also willing to defy episcopal control.

It’s worth recalling, here, just how far-reaching the proposals are.  They want to see women admitted to the priesthood, an end to compulsory celibacy for priests, and for priests to distribute communion to people who have been divorced and remarried. In themselves, these calls are not too extraordinary: many progressive Catholics around the world would agree with the aims. This initiative though, goes well beyond simply pleading for a change in the rules. It is explicitly framed as a “call to disobedience”, and instead urges that where there is a shortage of priests resulting from the continued refusal to ordain women and married men, priests should in effect embark on a work to rule, leaving lay people to fill the gap if necessary, by saying Mass for themselves. They also urge that in the absence of a change in the rules on communion, priests should simply disregard them.

At CatholicVote.org, commenting on events at Occupy Vancouver:

Paradoxically, lefty Catholics tell us that the Catholic Church has more in common with the OWS movement, even though the OWS movement is more cozy with anti-religious sentiment than with the Catholic Church. What does it say about liberal Catholics that they find their strongest supporters and activists not in Church pews, but in the encampments of Occupy Wall Street and Vancouver?

Here’s the false premise that lefty Catholics use to claim affinity between OWS and Catholic Teaching: “Because the Church and the OWS agree that society, politics and the economy are broken and imperfect, they must also agree about how to solve these serious problems.”

Of course Catholic teaching and the OWS demands (whatever they are) do not agree. For one, the Catholic Church defends her right to speak out for truth in the public square, and believes in her own institutional freedom and autonomy. The Catholic Church strongly proclaims the dignity and right to life of the unborn (and all people) as the foundation for a free and just society. The Church continually upholds the dignity of marriage as the fundamental building block of a healthy society. Most individuals in the OWS movementstrongly deny all of these principles.

In The Guardian:

People power is all around: think the Arab spring, the protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral, the national outpouring of outrage over phone hacking and, before that, MPs’ expenses. This week, popular democracy came crashing in on yet another institution in desperate need of reform – the Catholic church, which has been a bastion of power for one of the most tightly-knit, elderly male oligarchies of all time.

What has happened over the past few days might not have looked particularly dramatic, but it has shaken the powers that be in the Catholic church in this country to their core. And although ordinary people didn’t seem to be in the vanguard in the same way they were in the Arab spring, they have played a key role.

Passed by the NYC General Assembly, November 1, 2011 (emphasis ours):

Statement of Autonomy

Occupy Wall Street is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand.  It is not for sale.

We welcome all, who, in good faith, petition for a redress of grievances through non-violence.  We provide a forum for peaceful assembly of individuals to engage in participatory as opposed to partisan debate and democracy.  We welcome dissent.

Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at www.nycga.net should be considered independent of Occupy Wall Street.

We wish to clarify that Occupy Wall Street is not and never has been affiliated with any established political party, candidate or organization.  Our only affiliation is with the people.

The people who are working together to create this movement are its sole and mutual caretakers.  If you have chosen to devote resources to building this movement, especially your time and labor, then it is yours.

Any organization is welcome to support us with the knowledge that doing so will mean questioning your own institutional frameworks of work and hierarchy and integrating our principles into your modes of action.

SPEAK WITH US, NOT FOR US.

Occupy Wall Street values collective resources, dignity, integrity and autonomy above money.  We have not made endorsements.  All donations are accepted anonymously and are transparently allocated via consensus by the General Assembly or the Operational Spokes Council.

We acknowledge the existence of professional activists who work to make our world a better place.  If you are representing, or being compensated by an independent source while participating in our process, please disclose your affiliation at the outset.  Those seeking to capitalize on this movement or undermine it by appropriating its message or symbols are not a part of Occupy Wall Street.

We stand in solidarity.  We are Occupy Wall Street.

MT Dávila at Theology Salon:

The Occupy Movement has been labeled as having no clear goals or set of demands, or no reasonable platform. And yet, theirs is the clamor of those who find life under threat on many fronts. Many of the statements from the general assemblies highlight how the current economic system in which we participate promote unjust financial relationships that are harmful to the environment, encourage a culture of violence to promote our interests, place the majority (99%) in fragile economic positions, threaten our jobs, lift protections from our homes and other sources of generational wealth, and make it almost impossible to be economically responsible for ourselves and those we love and the generations to come. Deeper still, many have reached the realization that these are not simply economic concerns but questions about the core of our human experience and dignity, about who we are as persons and as a society, and whether we value the common good and promote conditions that respect the dignity and integrity of every member of our society and the human family globally. In short, I find that the Occupy movement is promoting a moral re-development program, an awakening to the ways in which the economic practices of the past century violate our ability to relate to ourselves, to others, to our communities, and our world in ways that promote human dignity.

I find the synergy between the Occupy movement and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching promising for promoting the conscientization of Christians in the U.S. into a new social and economic reality that holds human dignity, being and not having (as John Paul II and now Benedict XVI promote in their discussions on capitalism) at the center of all we do. I encourage you to take the reflections that follow in this series as study guides, conversation starters, resources for preaching, or personal meditation to examine the interplay between our nation’s conscience, the Occupy Movement, and the life of Christian discipleship.

Theologian Tom Beaudoin at his blog, Rock and Theology:

In the last several weeks, Occupy Wall Street has begun to settle in for the winter. What was once an open-air festival atmosphere has become a tent camp, with walkways snaking through that allow protesters to set up tables for their causes. New people show up daily to hold signs on the west side of Zuccotti Park, the food station, press area, and library remain constant hubs of activity, but the feeling I have is that we are in a pivotal period in which an inspiring number of hundreds of people are showing that they are willing to brave the increasing cold, with the daily support of thousands who descend on the Park, in fidelity to a movement whose only demand is the nonviolent embodiment of “No” — a no to the market as God — and the nonviolent embodiment of “Yes” — a yes to a new instantiation, in the political process, of the ways our flourishing, as citizens of the world, is essentially bound up with recognizing each other as equals across all differences.

CALL FOR RELIGIOUS ASSISTANCE:  I hope all religious institutions and organizations will consider their relationship to the Occupy movement, and take this occasion of a global social movement to ask themselves how their traditions of spirituality relate to their actions for justice and their works of mercy. If your religious/spiritual/ethical community discerns that the economy is meant for human flourishing — instead of humans being subordinated to economic systems and fantasies — then I hope you will ask how you can concretely help this movement here and now.

CALL TO CATHOLICS: More specifically, I ask Catholics and Catholic institutions to consider how the witness to a different economic order in the Occupy movement is congruent with Catholic commitments to love God in public, or in other words, to live justly with an untiring, and even today still radical, commitment not to individual good or the good of special interests alone, but to the common good. Catholic organizations: you have resources that the Occupy movement in your area might need. Will you prayerfully consider that?

CALL TO CATHOLICS IN THE NYC AREA: Even more specifically, I have it from a representative from OccupyFaithNYC that there are some urgent needs. If you are a Catholic organization in or near lower Manhattan that can contribute resources, please consider getting in touch now. There are specific needs: Kitchen Space, Meeting Hall, Beds, Showers, Parking. Please write to me at tbeaudoin@fordham.edu and I will put you in touch with the right people from OccupyFaith.