Skip to comments.March participants say Occupy movementís concerns aligned with Catholic social teaching
Posted on 12/14/2011 7:42:33 AM PST by Alex Murphy
Wearing the garments of their respective faiths, a rabbi, two Protestant ministers and a Franciscan friar set aside theological differences on a December afternoon to lead a march sponsored by a broad coalition of community and labor groups down Market Street in San Francisco to the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza.
They were united in support of the Occupy Wall Street movements main rallying cry against inequality, recession, high unemployment and unaffordable health care.
These conditions and the economic system behind them, they say, are in opposition to the Gospel and Catholic social teaching.
If you look at the life and teachings of Jesus and how the early Christian community was laid out, said Franciscan Father Louis Vitale, you see that they lived so that nobody was in need and nobody had an abundance. It was all done in community.
Joined by Rabbi Jane Litman, Rev. Carol Been and Rev. Israel Alvaran, Father Vitale marched along Market Street holding a banner that read, People of faith for a moral economy. They followed four marchers bearing a litter carrying the statue of a golden calf. A sign attached to the litter read, Stop worshipping money.
When Moses went up to the mountain, said Rabbi Litman, the people were building a golden calf. God told Moses to hurry down and stop them from worshipping gold. Thats what were doing here.
Father Vitale has been studying and participating in social movements since the 60s. Like the civil rights and antiwar movements of that era, he said, the Occupy movement is rooted in the principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, a preferential option for the poor, global solidarity, stewardship of Gods creation and economic justice.
All those resonate clearly with the Occupy movement, said James Salt, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Catholics United.
Pope Leo XIII is credited with beginning the modern era of Catholic social teaching with his 1891 encyclical criticizing a savage capitalism that exploited workers. When the trickle-down economic theory was in vogue during the Reagan presidency, Pope John Paul II warned of an idolatry of the market. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, saw a scandal of glaring inequalities in the U.S. economy.
In October, the Vaticans Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in the document Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, proposed the idea of independent oversight of the world banking system. Setting up such a body would be a complex and delicate process and would require realistic goals and gradual change, the council said.
Those at the rally marched to protest these inequities and praised the Occupy movement for bringing them to light.
I think Occupy is laying bare the basic problems and injustices in our society, said Rev. Glenda Hope. Its prophetic witness.
As the founder of Safe Haven, a sanctuary in San Francisco for women seeking to leave prostitution, the 75-year-old Presbyterian minister said the signs of a disintegrating economy are everywhere.
I see more women in the streets than I ever have before, she said. Our nation is losing its soul we cant just sit by.
There is a broad coalition of folks here who are concerned about the morality of our budget, and what were doing with our money, said Rev. Been, an organizer with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. And I dont think people are happy with either the Democrats or the Republicans as having a handle on what needs to be done.
Clergy at the rally said they were encouraged by all the young people across the nation who have taken part in a movement calling for social change.
Theyre leading the way, said Rev. Hope.
For some, the message of the Occupy movement has been difficult to discern and obscured by media images of scruffy, arrogant youths thumbing their noses at authority by camping illegally in public places.
I think for a lot of people the true message of the Occupy movement has been influenced by the camping and the behavior of some of them, said Karl Robillard, senior manager of communications and outreach at the St. Anthony Foundation. Unfortunately, for Occupy, their message is being lost.
George Wesolek, director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns at the Archdiocese of San Francisco, agreed.
I have had difficulty understanding what the focus of their agenda is, he said. It seems ambiguous. What I do relate to is how bad things are right now the huge disparity between the rich and the poor.
That disparity is growing. A recent study revealed that the 400 Americans at the top of the income scale possessed more wealth than the 150 million at the bottom.
Barry Stenger, director of development and communications the St. Anthony Foundation, said those in the Occupy movement are asking for a realignment so that our economic and political systems are put at the service of the people. Thats fundamental to Catholic social justice teaching.
Unfortunately, said Stenger, many Catholics are not familiar with those teachings. Its always been called the best-kept secret in our church. And I think thats true.
The average Catholic, said Jeff Bialik, executive director of Catholic Charities CYO in the archdiocese, is generous when it comes to putting money in the collection plate.
But I think were not always cognizant that we are challenged to be a moral voice in the community, that we need to advocate about injustice in society, said Bialik. Thats an area in which we sometimes have trouble connecting the dots.
Were not saying you have to be socialist, he said, just that you have to look out for your neighbor. We are, in fact, our brothers keeper. I think we know that. We just need to be reminded of that.
Lorraine Moriarty, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County, hopes that the Occupy movement may turn out to be the leaven in the dough that motivates more people to work toward the creation of a better world.
A great deal of the “Social Justice” teachings that have become so prevalent in “churches” in this country originated in the Catholic church.
And nothing that has come out of Rome in the last decades has done anything to ease my mind that the Catholic Church will be the primary part of the “one world religion” that is depicted in prophecy. In fact, the ecumenical movement is probably the clearest sign yet of that fulfillment coming.
He also told Moses to tell them to not steal or covet. Did you forget that, Rabbi? The instructions to feed the hungry and clothe the poor are to individuals, free to choose to obey or not. When one has government take from the rich and distribute to the poor, not only do you take the free will from that person, you also take the blessings that the person would have received from their freely giving. You also instill a sense of entitlement to the person receiving the largesse because it comes from government or society instead of an individual or group of volunteers. Taking care of our neighbors is a good thing and something we are instructed to do, but not by force. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. He does not kick it down with a SWAT team, shoot your dog and steal your soul.
....Until there is a new revolution or civil war.
So when I grew up going to Catholic school and we prayed every day on our knees for the conversion of Communist Russia,that really didn’t mean anything.
When we learned about the horrors of Communism and Nazism...
Why is it different now? Huh?
Biggirl — when one trolls the internet looking for anything that says “Catholic bad”, the articles can be utterly false and hilarious... Mostly we just ignore the fool who wrote the article