Archives for category: Events

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City
June 23, 2013
9:15 – 10:15 a.m.

Answering the U.S. bishops’ call for a second “Fortnight for Freedom” during the two weeks leading up to July 4, Occupy Catholics invites people of conscience to send a message to the world about the freedoms we feel are most under threat. For an hour before the Cardinal’s Mass on Sunday, June 23, between 9:15 and 10:15, we will prayerfully hold signs at the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral naming the freedoms we know to be threatened.

Partipants should bring a sign that says “Freedom to ____” or “Freedom from ____,” with the blank filled out with their conscience, in light of faith.

The bishops’ primary concern with the Fortnight for Freedom campaign has been religious freedom in U.S. society, and it is an important concern indeed. However, during last year’s Fortnight, Occupy Catholics held an open assembly about threats to freedom at the steps of St. Patrick’s. (The cathedral was meanwhile surrounded by barricades and police.) Some participants slept there on the sidewalk that night. A statement was drafted that summarized the discussion of the assembly (, and the primary threats to freedom it identified were:

  • Freedom from discrimination, especially through policing policies such as New York’s “stop and frisk” that target people of color
  • Freedom from complicity in war and the economy of the 1%
  • Freedom to self-govern in our church and our soceity

Other concerns expressed at the assembly included:

Freedom of assembly • freedom of speech • freedom from torture • freedom of thought • freedom not to kill • freedom of belief • freedom to earn • freedom of conscience • freedom from suffering • freedom from manipulation • freedom to love • freedom of movement • freedom from mass consumption • freedom from relativism • freedom from debt • freedom to live in a healthy environment • freedom to serve the church • freedom from predatory corporations • freedom from greed

Occupy Catholics invites allies everywhere to join us in standing for these and other freedoms that God entrusts to us, that we might share them with each other in our church and our society.

RSVP on Facebook:


This is a quick guide to what Occupy Catholics will be up to as we support the Occupy movement’s one-year anniversary in New York City on September 17. We call for the support of all those who can join us and the prayers for all who can’t. The schedule is only approximate, and it is sure to change with conditions on the ground. Follow @OccupyCatholic for updates.

For more information on many more Occupy events over the anniversary weekend, visit

Saturday, September 15 #S15 EDUCATION

12–4 pm Alongside Occupy Faith’s “People’s Investigation” at Washington Square Park, we will be offering biblical foot-washing and clean socks.
4 pm Mass Action Training, Washington Square Park, for those planning to participate in Monday morning actions.

7:30 pm Strike Debt’s Debt Resistors’ Operation Manual Book Launch, Judson Memorial Church (Washington Square Park South). Occupy Catholics will open the event with a special sermon against usury from Pope Benedict XIV.

Sunday, September 16 #S16 CELEBRATION

10 am–12:30 pm At Zuccotti Park, Occupy Faith will hold an interfaith worship service.

1–6 pm Concert at Foley Square featuring at least one Occupy Catholic.

7 pm Procession from Foley Square to Zuccotti Park to the 7:30 Rosh Hashanah service with Occupy Judaism.

Monday, September 17 #S17 LIBERATION

6:45 am Assemble at the Red Cube with Occupy Faith to participate in morning street actions. Some will practice civil disobedience as part of the People’s Wall.

All day Jail support for arrested Occupy Catholics.

10 am People’s Storm for a sustainable future at Bowling Green, followed by ongoing downtown actions and assemblies in the Financial District.

6 pm Popular Assembly at Foley Square.

See you in the streets!

We are the 99%, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice for all.

On Wednesday, September 12, the newly formed National Council of Elders (NCOE) will release the Greensboro Declaration, the first statement of the organization since its founding a month ago.  The NCOE founding conference was held in Greensboro, NC, site of the historic Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, which represented a major advance in the civil rights struggle.

The Declaration will be presented at significant historic sites of struggle and freedom  in Washington, DC, Detroit, MI; and New York. Press conferences will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the areas’ respective time zones. The  NCOE  sees its mission as passing down both its wisdom and missteps to coming  generations , especially to  young people.

Greensboro Declaration Launch Sites

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

11:00 am (local time)

NYC-  Zuccotti Park

Dr. James A. Forbes , Jr., President, Healing the Nations Foundation

Imam Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood

Shirley M. Sherrod, Former Georgia State Director of Rural Development, U.S. DepartmenofAgriculture

Father Daniel Berrigan- Peace Maker

Rev. Donna Schapper, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church

Father Paul Mayer,  Interfaith  Moral Action on  Climate  Change   (IMAC)

( Others  to be announced  )

The Declaration release will be followed by a conversation – dialogue between the Elders  and young people from Occupy Wall St., congregations , schools and other youth groups about  nonviolence .

Washington, DC: ML King, Jr. Memorial Center

Detroit: New Bethel Baptist Church

“This statement represents a new epoch,” said 97-year-old Detroit revolutionary theorist and activist Grace Lee Boggs, author of The Next American Revolution. “It calls on Americans to become engaged in a different kind of citizenship, one that transforms their souls in addition to asking them to go to the polls.”  Dr. Boggs is the eldest member of the NCOE.

Other NCOE members and signers of the Declaration include:

−      Bernice Johnson Reagon, Founder, Sweet Honey in the Rock

−      Harry Belafonte, Activist/Performer

−      Dolores Huerta, Labor Leader / Civil Rights Activist

−      Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Professor  & Freedom Summer Participant

−      Nelson Johnson, Activist/Organizer

−       Arthur Waskow, Author/Activist/Rabbi

−      Danny Glover, Activist/Actor/Producer

−      Mel White, Author and LGBT Activist

Council members decided to release the Declaration after both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, believing that following the presentations by elected officials, it would be important to offer individual citizens and community groups an opportunity to voice their concerns and demands.  The NCOE members will invite community activists to be present at the press conferences to engage in a dialogue on the issues commented upon in the Declaration as well as other concerns that may be raised by those in attendance.

Called into formation by civil rights veterans Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Phil Lawson and Dr. Vincent Harding, members of the NCOE represent years of committed activism in every major human rights movement of the 20th Century.

Recognizing that movement elders were continuing to play critical roles in human rights movements in the U.S., the founders had been considering organizing the Council for some time. Inspired by the determined calls for justice by the emerging Occupy movement, the Lawson brothers and Dr. Harding were moved to bring their vision to fruition.

Members of the NCOE will extend their support to Occupy and other younger generation activists while continuing their own civic engagement in arenas where they have worked for years. They are also committed to the documentation and archiving of their own movement experiences in order to leave a substantial, accessible legacy for the justice workers who will come after them.


Father Paul Mayer

Phone: 973 675-2142    917 892-5635



Arthur Waskow (The Shalom Center, Philadelphia, PA)

Office Phone: 215 844-8494

Email: awaskow@the

Nelson and Joyce Johnson (The Beloved Community Center, Greensboro, NC

Office Phone: 336 230-0001


(Detroit, MI)

Ron Scott, 313 399 7345 


Calling NYC Occupy Catholics! Tomorrow, July 11, at around 3 pm, the Guitarmy’s 99 Mile March ( will be arriving from the Occupy National Gathering in Philly. We want to welcome them. Their feet will probably be tired, so we’re thinking it’d be nice and Christian of us to offer to wash them. Come join us (try to be there a bit early) just outside the Manhattan entrance to the Staten Island Ferry to help. If you can bring new pairs of socks for us to give the valiant walkers if they need any. Bring Occupy Catholics paraphernalia if you got ’em.

Answering the call of the United States Catholic bishops for a Fortnight for Freedom, on the evening of June 21, we Occupy Catholics gathered on the sidewalk at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Though separated from our cathedral by a cage of police barricades and armed guards, we held a General Assembly on Freedoms to discuss what freedom means in our faith. The bishops have identified threats to freedom of their own, but we, as part of Christ’s church, set out to ask ourselves and each other what freedoms are most urgently under threat in our society, as well as what the obedience our faith demands of us. We announced our prayerful intentions to Cardinal Dolan beforehand, but were answered only with the power of the state.

Following the assembly, we remained through the night in vigil, in a NightFort for Freedom, joined by friends—including fellow Occupiers and the homeless—until attending the next morning’s 7 a.m. mass in the cathedral with the Cardinal. We recorded the assembly and the vigil for in our minutes, our streaming video, and our tweets, and our photos. Overnight, in prayer and sleep, we reflected on the freedoms that we’d earlier discussed, which we’d come to by the guidance of the Spirit, as human beings made in God’s image and seeking God’s justice. The threats to freedom that came foremost to our minds and hearts were these:

  • Freedom from discrimination. Policies like the NYPD’s use of “stop and frisk” have the effect of criminalizing whole populations, thereby supporting a prison-industrial complex that profits from the suffering of vulnerable people. Police departments lack sufficient oversight over their increasingly militarized powers to control and subjugate. Meanwhile, women in our church are increasingly being silenced and victimized for speaking out and following their conscience in ministry. We intend to support the struggle to end such policies through our movement and in our parishes, joining with allies of other faiths and backgrounds, knowing that in God’s eyes the dignity of each depends on recognizing the essential equality of all.
  • Freedom from complicity in war and the economy of the 1%. We want to be able to love our country, but our faith does not permit us to tolerate its practice of perpetual war, aggression, and domination around the world. Life everywhere is good and comes from God, and we have no right to destroy it, least of all in wanton pursuit of profits for the wealthiest, who stand to benefit from war while the poorest are the ones who die. We stand with Pope Paul VI, who said before the United Nations, “No more war, never again war!” Our church and the Occupy movement have often been silent on the evil of modern warfare, which takes ever more insidious forms, and we will work within both to be a voice for a future of justice and peace.
  • Freedom to self-govern in our church and society. Electoral politics, and increasingly our own church, are mired in the tyranny of money and greed, which make society a mockery of its true, divine calling to serve the people, and the most vulnerable above all. The direct democracy practiced in the Occupy movement has inspired us to long for a richer, fuller self-government in our society as well as in our church. While respecting the church’s sacramental offices, we reject their monopoly over the leadership and the public voice of the church as a whole. We want to hear from one another, and encourage one another to lead, by the God-given wisdom invested in each member of Christ’s body. We will not tolerate the violence of faithful voices being silenced. Humanity needs the opportunity to grow and to let the Spirit guide us on the road of transformation.

These are not the only freedoms we discussed. There were others as well, including:

Freedom of assembly • freedom of speech • freedom from torture • freedom of thought • freedom not to kill • freedom of belief • freedom to earn • freedom of conscience • freedom from suffering • freedom from manipulation • freedom to love • freedom of movement • freedom from mass consumption • freedom from relativism • freedom from debt • freedom to live in a healthy environment • freedom to serve the church • freedom from predatory corporations • freedom from greed

We call upon Catholics and allies everywhere to join with us in speaking out about, standing for, and finally occupying these and other freedoms that God, through undying and unlimited love, entrusts to us, that we might share them with each other in our church and our movement.


Nathan: Church = ecclesia = assembly. we’re called as Christians/catholics to reconciliation. we want to help this Fortnight for Freedom. help it get going with a more open conversation. listen to one another. more voices. speak out toward a new consensus. let the spirit move us to a new consensus on freedom

Susan: this is about listening as well as speaking. a community of listening that’s prayerful

step up, step back

progressive stack

hand signals

proposed agenda
a speakout on freedoms

some of us are planning to spend the night on the sidewalk here. we have extra bedrolls.

freedom of assembly
freedom of speech
freedom from torture

freedom of intellectual thought

freedom not to kill or contribute to killing

Chris: freedom is a nebulous thing. freedom becomes an excuse for war or pushes an agenda.

freedom to believe or not to believe in God. we cannot make ourselves believe

Russell: the bishops are using “freedom” in a politically charged way. the acknowledgement of that is one way of explaining why we’re here and what we’re doing here.

freedom and human rights

Manny: financial freedom. freedom to make a dollar

freedom from stop and frisk and other racisms

freedom through obedience

freedom of privacy of conscience

freedom from pain and suffering

freedom to disagree

freedom and accountability

freedom from war and freedom from supporting war

freedom from domination

freedom from violence

freedom from hierarchy, verticality, manipulation

freedom to self-govern (religions and political organizations)

freedom to love

freedom of movement

freedom from the idea that freedom is mass consumption

freedom from debt

freedom to healthy environment

predatory corporations function in a world where people are hungry, etc.

women cannot join the hierarchy of the church

freedom not to accept what other people think is good for themselves

freedom from violence

freedom from stop and frisk and similar policies (and other discriminations)

freedom from contributing to the war machine (and global capitalism)

freedom to self-govern (in religion and politics)

Stop and Frisk

stop and frisk is real. it’s going on

chris: it’s constitutional, as per the SC

Russell: stop and frisk (like deportations and immigration law enforcement) is an evidencing of a criminalizing of a whole population. related to the prison industrial complex

Chris: There’s also the militarization of the police (as well as the constitutional aspect)

Loren: we’re called to stand with the oppressed. the NYPD is doing a lot of oppressing in this case. it has no inspector general.

Nathan: a lot of people on the SC are Catholics (7 out of 9)

Patricia: in south America there is a side that is the catholic church that identifies with the suffering. I come from Chile, that’s the case there. some priests aligned with Pinochet and some priests aligned with the suffering people. so, there are 7 catholics in the SC…. what kind of catholics are they?

Nathan (as an action item): Occupy Catholics should continue to have a presence at stop and frisk actions

Chris (as an action item): i think the most effective advocacy is local advocacy (it’s not the UN). parish-based advocacy.

Patricia: you can reach out to the parishes of the least privelged/most persecuted. for instance Guadalupe church at 14th (?)

Steve: i was at Francis Xavier’s peace and justice meeting last week. of the 8 people that were there, only 2 even knew what stop and frisk was.

man with dark beard: the U.S. lay conference and USCCB should raise stop and frisk as a justice issue

Chris: all the good things that USCCB does gets ignored by the media. the bad things they do get in the media

Nathan: we can create a document (out of this meeting) that we try to get in the media that makes public what some catholics are caring about

Steve: petition the bishops to make a formal statement on policy

Reuters person: I’m a reporter from Reuters looking for what normal women Catholics actually think about contraception and where it stands in relation to where the bishops are saying

freedom from contributing to the war machine (and global capitalism)

John: American should be able to feel that they fully love their country but not its war policies. real Americans do not want their country to become an imperialist war machine.

Patricia: I’m opposed to war period. I’m opposed to the killing of people who are from other countries. because you were born here and not there? that doesn’t make sense. you’re not from America and you’re from a country that America has a problem with and you may wake up to a war and may die in it? What?!

Manny: I hate the fact that the 1% is making so much money from these wars, and they’re sticking me with the tab

John: we should be saying prayers at the end of mass to end corporate capitalism, as we did 40-50 years with communism

Russell: war is an example (the best example) of how we—the 99%—don’t have control. our voice is not mattering. this is not an authentic democracy.

Chris: subsidiarity is a principle of catholic social teaching. just because you can vote doesn’t mean you have freedom. That’s part of freedom being nebulous; it’s defined by the West to suit their geopolitics. NATO wars give no consideration to local decisionmaking

Nathan: the decl’n of the occupation of NYC’s 1st draft did not even mention war. Occupy to this point hasn’t really spoken loudly on militarism.

John: Pope Paul VI at the UN said “never again to war.” That’s papal catholic teaching. The present hierarchy ought to be made mindful about that and ought to be embarrassed.

Chris: the 2-party system has permeated activism. and we have to get over that. (as activists)

Russell: Occupy Nukes plug.

Steve: Rick Santorum as Catholic. a perversion of the theology that this church is about.
our church says no to war just the way willie wonka says “oh.. don’t do that.”

John: the Republican catholic and the democratic catholic constituencies are tied up in the American moneyed system and all the U.S. enterprises. Rich catholics fund the churches and fund the war machine. so the church doesn’t take the prophetic stances that it must. If it did, its funds would dry up for alienating the people with the money/power.

woman in pink: book recommendation: justified warfare or the way of nonviolence

freedom to self-govern (in religion and politics) (and freedom from the violence of being silenced)

Nathan: why did I get interested in Occupy Catholics in December? I experienced the power of the occupation, from way back to the planning meetings in August. “we the people have found our voice.” it resonated with me a whole lot. I would take a break from the Occupation to go to mass in Bk where I go and it was SO hard to do so. I had an incredible hunger to hear from the people I went to church with. to hear the gospel reflected in their experience. to play out some of the possibilities of what our Church might look like if we were informed by our own common wisdom and experience and not just the homilies of the priests.

Patricia: humanity needs the opportunity to grow and become greater. repression is the problem here. all the manipulation and violence keeps us from evolving. but repression is a futile attempt. you cannot stop the evolution of humanity. we should let go of what was and face what will be. with trust in the road of transformation.

Russell: we’ve just dabbled in the answers of what do to about what’s big and scary and powerful in the world. the last two lengthier remarks have been so beautiful and I’m so grateful to have heard them.

woman in pink: most of us are nonviolent catholics. “just war” is not our favorite doctrine.

John: just war is past its time. you cannot even meet the criteria for just war anymore.

Susan: what does it mean to engage the transformation in a world when different people are on different places with the transformation?

Nathan: Fortnight for Freedom is defending the Church’s autonomy. The Church is here making remarks about what democracy should look like. what do we think about the Fortnight for Freedom?

Chris: subsidiarity again: local communities know best what works for their development. give local groups control.

the structures of the church don’t allow for that control.

Chris: I’m Eastern Catholic; I’m used to parish councils operating quite democratically and I guess I didn’t know the extent to which Roman Catholic parishes are kept out of deciding their own fates.

Chris: there are 21 Eastern churches in union with Rome. we have our own Patriarchs. we do a lot of chanting.

The fact that there are no strong parish councils in the Roman Church is a way that it is closed to change and democracy.

Nathan: there are ways of preserving offices of the Church while still incorporating a democracy

Nathan: rediscovering our Social Teaching in light of the occupy movement (e.g. distributism)

Patricia (as an action item): a project I started: Occupy Within. parallel to the work that we’re doing socially/politically, I would like to add a dimension to our work that makes it personal and internal. “the world has to change, except me” is to me not very revolutionary. we have to see ourselves as being included in that which will be transformed. in many ways we are what we oppose. and we cannot change that part by a magic trick. it’s something we have to work through.

John (as an action item): to, in conversation, plant the seed that helps us and others think differently. we do this by openly expressing our dissent. that plants a seed. say, “I just disagree. I don’t want to argue. I just want to register that I disagree.”

man in green shirt: if you change yourself, that’s substantive. it changes how you behave and what you bring to the world.

let’s pick this topic up again (that is, the social revolution and/versus the revolution of the heart)

Loren: more partipatory democracy is a good thing. more horizontalism is a good thing. communities ought to be able to decide what priest they have. I’m a Catholic for whom mass is often alienating. one of the most satisfying things to me is House Church at catholic wotker communities. we took turns in leadership of this. conversation and change. not just one priest—the same one every week.

Russell: this is about looking at a way that the Church is trying to be democratic. The Church is trying to participate in this so-called Democracy in a limited way. and it can’t participate in true democracy very much or very long, because it itself is not democratic. it can’t face questions about true democracy. it wouldn’t hold up to them. That’s something to keep in mind and return to.

John: Thinking about democracy, to disagree a little bit, the majority of American Catholics would vote for war. democracy has that side of it that is majority rule, that we wouldn’t want some decisions made by “a majority of Americans.”

Loren: I’m grateful for this discussion. I don’t have these often. I’m also geared toward action. what actions can we take to move forward.

woman in pink: the written word. when we have a discussion, it is really key o make a record of that. this is how we know about franz yeberschtat (?). the record is one small way the church might change.

Maybe we should make a record of this event/conversation in four or so paragraphs and send that out to friends. and say, “this is what we were up to. It’s something you could share in / plug into.”

Nathan: we should do more work to help us all feel more comfortable praying in public (and having our prayerful voices heard). evangelical do that very well and we do that very poorly.

As a closing prayer, “an asking.”

In advance of the June 21 General Assembly on Freedoms, Occupy Catholics sent the following letter to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archdiocese of New York

Your Eminence,

In response to the USCCB’s call for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” some of us involved in a network called Occupy Catholics will host an open discussion about freedoms — we call it a “General Assembly” — on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It will take place on Thursday, June 21, at 6 p.m. Our purpose is to help ensure that ordinary, faithful people of our church can play a participatory role in this important campaign, especially in helping to define which freedoms matter to us most and speak to us as Catholics, Christians, Americans, and human beings — made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice. As you and the bishops have called us to action and anchored it to that day which, in 1776, the Continental Congress issued their Declaration, we feel privileged to exercise our rights of assembly and speech to discuss and debate the breath of our religious freedom.

We write to inform you of our gathering, so you know that we gather as part of one church, in enthusiasm for the call to action that you have promulgated. Especially in light of the repression against the Occupy movement’s freedoms of speech and assembly by the New York Police Department over the past year, we hope that you will help ensure that our event can proceed peacefully and prayerfully.

The following morning, many of us look forward to sharing the Fortnight for Freedom mass with you.

Asking the blessing of Your Eminence, we are Yours respectfully in Christ,

Occupy Catholics

Download a 4-to-a-page .pdf file.

Details and RSVP on Facebook.

Thursday, June 21, 2012
6:00pm until 9:00pm
The steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

The US Catholic bishops have called a “Fortnight for Freedom” for the two weeks between June 21 and July 4. Occupy Catholics NYC has decided to answer that call by hosting an open-air General Assembly on Freedoms, on the steps of our cathedral, with the purpose of fostering an open community dialogue about what freedom means for us and for our faith. We want to focus on God-promised freedoms that so often go overlooked and unprotected in our society, as well as the actions that we can take to protect them:

* Freedom of conscience
* Freedom from greed
* Freedom from sexism
* Freedom from racism
* Freedom from poverty
* Freedom from complicity
* Freedom to serve
* Freedom to reflect
* Freedom to protest
* Freedom to assemble
* Freedom to love

What other freedoms shall we discuss?

Join the conversation online ahead of time:

And come to our open planning meeting a week in advance:

All are welcome. We are the 99%, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice.

Some participants have indicated that they are interested in holding an all-night vigil on the sidewalks outside the church after the assembly. Sleeping bags and mats welcome.